Reed magazine welcomes letters from readers concerning the contents of the magazine or issues relating to the college. Letters must be signed and may be edited for clarity and space. Our email address is reed.magazine@reed.edu.


A brief visit home
From Keith Allen '83
I happened to be driving through Portland in late August, and I thought it would be fun to take a break from our volcano tour (12 volcanoes in 7 days-the kids loved it) to stroll around Reed for a few hours.

What a time to be on campus, the Thursday before classes start, wide-eyed frosh going in and out of the (mostly) new dorms with odd boxes and the occasional guitar, people with Reed College bookstore bags and stacks of cool new books, overheard conversations about "coed bathrooms."

What to do, what to do. . . the campus smells so nice, and it feels so nice to be there. Time for a cup of coffee, methinks. I was really wanting to see the SU again, and check out what they've done with the commons and all that, so a trip to the coffee shop seemed just the thing. Well, it turns out that the coffee shop ain't where it used to be, it's now a much smaller affair (apparently called the Paradox Caf‚) in the old location of the Quest offices, nicely done up with ratty old couches, and a few odd, well- thumbed books scattered on tables, and music that was a strange mix of techno and grunge. My inclination was to try asking for a small good large, but I very quickly realized that I would not be understood.

And who ever would have thought that asking for a small good large* would make you feel so old?

We exited with thoroughly contempo lattes, and proceeded to sit on what's left of the SU steps. It turns out that there's not a lot left of the old steps, it's almost all gone to make way for a big wheelchair ramp. The steps that are left are all of six feet wide, and concrete, but it was enough for my purposes.

To be sitting on the SU steps again, sipping coffee, with music drifting out of a window in old dorm block, the breeze barely rustling the leaves in that fine old tree in front of the steps. . . .

Goddamn, but it's all so real.

On the way back to the car my wife commented that it looks pretty much like any other small college campus. I suppose so. But it sure is special to me.

[*Keith explains small good large for those not familiar with this particular bit of Reediana. Ed.] The early '80s saw the arrival of readily available "gourmet" coffee. In response to growing complaints that the coffee in the coffee shop was lousy they decided to offer better quality brew. But then they had to deal with the competing demands for cheap versus quality coffee, because not everyone wanted to see a price jump on their joe. The solution was to offer two tiers of coffee-good and bad, at two prices. People quickly figured out that you had more options for additives like milk if you got your small coffee in a large cup-plus there was the unspoken incentive that the person behind the counter would almost always give you a bit more coffee if the cup was bigger because of some psychological effect that would have made a fine Reed thesis. Hence, a " small good large" was a small, better-than-average coffee in a large cup.



The real y2k "bug"
From John Belmont `62
Oh dear, oh dear. Rachel Hall (Reed August, "Reunions '99") has me all worried now by implying that she'd attended "the last Reed reunion of the twentieth century." I thought a century was done and gone when 100 years had passed. Wouldn't that be at the end of 2000? And wouldn't, therefore, the last of this century's reunions happen in mid-2000?

I don't believe there was a "year zero" back there somewhere that permits us to regard the end of 99 as really the end of 100. We've all heard the expression "since day one," but never "since day zero." And, for the money-wise: if a guy owes you 2000 dollars and hands over 1999, are you satisfied? Or do you want to see the 2000th; and I mean ALL of the 2000th?

So raise high the glasses in salute to Reed's class of aughty-aught, whose theses will be the last written in the twentieth century, the last of the millennium. Wish them good reading, good writing! Amen.

[Ed. Note: Keith Kutler '80 also pointed out our error, adding, "Have you ever heard anyone start counting with zero? Could it be that Hamilton lost to Burr because Hamilton started his count with `0, 1, 2' while Burr started with, `1, 2, 3?'" Thanks for keeping us accurate.]



Next Page
Next Page