College Visit

College visits are tricky. Nate loves to tag along – there are new bathrooms to see, new restaurants to visit. How Robbie and now Joey feel about Nate joining us for these important sojourns is complicated. They’re fine with him coming along, but very unsure as to whether he’ll embarrass them. Karen and I try our best to keep Nate busy and appropriate. Here’s an early post from our first trip to SUNY-Oswego (

This week we took Joey to Ithaca College and SUNY-Purchase. Nate was happy to set out on these new adventures. He’s been to Ithaca many times, so he was less interested in the city, but the tour was thorough and he took a lot of bathroom photos. Purchase was something else, a completely new destination.

For Joey, Purchase was the big winner. He was very happy there and that’s most important. For Nate, it was frustrating. Due to the conservatory nature of the school, we didn’t get a chance to go into many of the buildings. It was a big audition day for dancers and musicians. Also, though Nate loves construction, the amount going on at Purchase precluded us from entering even more buildings. But Nate hung in there, getting to visit seven new bathrooms.

And he was somewhat involved in the tour. When the guide asked “Who here is a senior?” Nate said “I’m a senior.” I heard him (we were pretty far back) and told him “You’ve already graduated from college.” “I’m a post-graduate senior,” he countered.

Nate seemed to be pleased with the day. We could tell because he was very funny. On the ride there he said, “Dad, I have a joke for you.”

“What is it Nate?” I asked. He makes up jokes a lot, usually ones that are funny to him.

“What goes blaaah blaaah blaah?”

He didn’t wait for me to guess.

“A sick sheep or a sick sheep who read Joey’s space book.” The first part is funny on its own, but when you know that years ago Nate ruined a book on the solar system that Joey made on the computer, replacing the original text with page after page of “blah blah blahs,” the joke gets really funny. Not to Joey though, even after all these years.

On the way home, we passed a bar called The Shamrock, in East Durham, part of the Irish Catskills. The parking lot was packed.

“I hope they get blind drunk in there!”

Karen and I cracked up. Are cultural stereotypes so strong that he saw the neon shamrock and assumed Irish people were getting liquored up? Did he notice the beer logos? We tried to get him to explain why he said what he did, but we got nothing back.

Nate always surprises us with the things he knows. We’re so conditioned to accept that he has his fields of expertise – cartoons, bathrooms, movies – that we’re unaware of the entirety of his pop culture knowledge. When we listen to the radio and hit on a song Nate likes, he always says “This is a great song” or “This is a classic, right?” He loves the ‘80’s, which is often hit or miss with us. When Culture Club came on, Nate said “This is a great song.”

“Yes it is Nate,” I answered, probably to the surprise of Karen and Joey.

When Nate started singing “Comma Comma Comma Comma” to “Karma Chameleon,” way before the chorus came on, we were floored.

“How do you know this song?” I asked.

“It’s in Scary Movie 4.”

It was a good day all around, the beginning (maybe) of Joey’s future and the continuation of fun with Nate.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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