Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My parents in college

I just learned a story of my mom's college days. She majored in English at Gordon, a Christian college. This was in the early sixties, when the theory was still current that college administrations should stand in loco parentis-- look after the students like parents. Dorms were segregated by sex and students had curfews and a number of rules to keep them on the straight and narrow. I think this was especially so at Christian colleges.

So my mom the undergraduate saw a stray cat one day and took it back to her dorm room. Knowing that cats weren't allowed in the dorms, she stashed it in the closet. The cat promptly gave birth, on Mom's roommate's shoes, to a litter of kittens! Mom had had no idea the cat was even pregnant.

So, what to do with the kittens? Mom posted signs around campus: "Unwed mother needs home for her offspring. See Natalie in room 221." That was typical of Mom's humor. What she hadn't counted on was the Christian college authorities who came knocking on her door to ask anxious questions about the unwed mother!

That was my mom; now here's my dad. He was never excited about spending a lot of time cooking and decorating and having a pretty apartment. Give him a cardboard box for a table and one frying pan to cook in and eat out of, and he'd be set for quite a while. At the University of Maryland in the 50's, he used to cook himself an egg every morning. But he got tired of washing that darn frying pan every day. Wouldn't it be more efficient, he thought (being an engineering major and a smart scientific type), to simply crack open a raw egg and pour it down his gullet?

So he did! He started consuming one raw egg for breakfast each morning, and no doubt he felt proud of this highly logical proceeding, until one day a few weeks later he noticed that he was developing cracks in the skin around his mouth. It turns out that eggs contain a protein called avidin that binds biotin (a B vitamin) and prevents the body from absorbing it. Cooking deactivates the avidin, but it's active in raw eggs. My dad had developed a biotin deficiency that was hurting his skin, so he had to go back to the frying pan.

Now as for me, I never did anything silly in college.


Athanasius contra mundum said...

That's right up there with my brilliant idea to have beer instead of milk in my cereal. College was great.

Rachel Gray said...

My roommate bought candy wholesale and resold it at cost to everyone in the dorm... so needless to say I ate a lot of candy in college years. :)

Nice to "see" you, Athanasius!