There are nights I show up at UD Arena and I know the man in front of me groans a silent groan.
Every game, he’s here to watch basketball. Every game, I’m here to watch basketball … and get a pinch of something more.
Last time, it was fennel.
As we watched players run up and down the floor, Jo Hinker and I discussed soup. She wrestled with stubborn, hard pinto beans. I shared a disgust for carrots but an obsession for carrot-ginger soup.
Her tale of a near-mythical tomato, orzo and fennel mélange made me miss a slam dunk.
The next day, she emailed me three recipes. I copied two of my favorites to index cards for her.
I only know Jo and her husband, Neal Hinker ’79, because our basketball seats are side by side. We are of different generations, live on different ends of town; but there’s something very familiar about the relationship. It starts with UD, and soon they’re attending one of my husband’s plays and we’re donating to one of their favorite charities.
I’m writing this column between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which may explain my uncharacteristic sentimentality. I can be as curmudgeonly as the next editor, but I feel that relationships with UD at their heart become something better, or deeper, or faster than other associations.
For example, my experience of “minoring in the Majkas.” More than 20 years after graduation, I tell anyone who will listen about the block of sociology courses I took from professors Linda and Theo Majka. Their lessons still inform the way I consider life, from the Supreme Court case on pregnancy as disability to the rulings on use of police force against black men.
In the years since, my husband and I shared a meal with the Majkas at a Denver Tex-Mex restaurant. On another occasion, the four of us walked together through a nature preserve to see the bluebells in bloom. Those memories are a few of the reasons I was so saddened to learn of Linda’s death this November.
In Class Notes this issue, there are stories of Flyer strangers meeting along the Columbia River (Page 55), on a train in New Zealand (Page 42) and on a golf course in New York state (Page 46). They knew what this column was about before I even started writing it. (I could’ve asked them to write this; it would have saved me a lot of time.)
I’d guess the man who sits in front of me at Flyer games does, too.
“It’s about connections,” I bet he’d say, not turning his head from the court. “And soup.” And then I’d hand him a handwritten recipe card.
Maybe I will.