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2% Of This

June 4, 2004

Today, someone called me a 2 Percenter.  A 2 Percenter is someone who doesn’t participate in any of the traditions at A&M, supposedly only 2% of the population.  It wasn’t even a fellow Aggie.  Just some guy who for some reason lately seems to enjoy the fact that I play skeet shoot with his attempts to hit on me.  Why?  Because I’ve only been to one football game.  At the age of 10.  I was tempted to shoot him down with the list of things I’ve done while at A&M which definitely does not make me a 2 Percenter.  Instead I just blew him off.  But it did kinda get me thinking.  So forgive me for a moment, while I walk down memory lane.

I have been to Fish Camp.  I have stood in the stands of the baseball stadium with a thousand other frightened and excited high school graduates who learned the meaning of “Yell,” “Howdy,” and “Hump it” through the grace of those older than us who only wanted to pass on the tradition.  I have sat in an auditorium and felt the wave of emotion that rolled over those soon to be freshman at the reverent word Bonfire.

I have watched Bonfire burn.  I have stood with cadets young and old in the presence of a tradition that would come crashing down only one year later.  I have knelt by an orange fence and prayed.  I have stayed awake at night, counting the faces of Might Have Been and felt lucky.

I have said “Howdy” cheerfully, from the bottom of my lungs, from the top of the crowd, from across the room.  I have said it to strangers, friends, classmates, audiences, people passing in the street.  I have learned that when there’s nothing else to say, “Howdy” will start you off just fine.

I have walked the streets of the city and picked up trash.  I have built homes for the homeless.  I have chopped down trees, hauled lumber, gathered food, babysat children, donated time, donated money, and gotten smashingly drunk, all in the name of Service.

I have sung “Amazing Grace” at Muster.  Cried when the crowd joined in.  Cried again when I spoke the word “Here” for a young man I went to Fish Camp with.  Heard the gasp of awe when a curtain pulled back, felt the wave of joy at the first note from a choir 300 strong singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  Held hands with girls while singing “I Believe” and believed.  Strapped myself into borrowed dresses, sewed zippers, sat up late talking, and felt pride at being in harmony on a hundred different levels, even while we had our strifes.

I have stood the line with world champions.  Cheered on hot days during tournaments, wishing I could be more, do more, but happy simply to be.  Missed the feel of a bow in hand so much it hurt.  Hated work-out with a passion and went anyways.  Hated practice with a passion and went anyways.  Found my focus.  Wrote a poem about it.  Heard the poem in my head with every shot, and was thrilled the first time I broke 230 doing this.  Bought my quiver, because I wanted it.  Wanted that last piece of evidence that I had been there.

I have spent time agonizing over my Aggie Ring, went to pick it up despite pneumonia, gloried in the heavy feel of it on my finger, choked down alcohol in an effort to dunk it.  I have scratched a huge chunk out of it and decided not to have it repaired because I like it that way.  I have watched the way the sunlight washes over the engraving on the inside and checked every time to be sure the proud “02” faces the right way.  I have felt too light with it off my finger and proud to have it noticed by strangers.  I have regretted never going to Ring dance.

I have danced a two step with a boy who had freshly won the right to wear his boots in public.  I have stood in the stands at midnight and looked down.  I have stood on the field at midnight and looked up.  I have prayed for my turn under the Century Tree, and smiled at the girls having their wedding pictures taken on the steps of their building of choice.  I have wild catted, pulled out, whipped out, whooped, yelled, and humped it with friends, family, and people I will never see again but feel a bond with to this day.  I have swung a towel in the heat outside of Kyle Field to fund raise, sung the Aggie War Hymn both in choir and out, and proudly worn an endless stream of t-shirts, polos, quivers, hats, and other items with the words Texas A&M University emblazoned on them.  I have swayed in time, sat in the press box, marched in E-walk, petted Reveille, uncovered in the MSC, avoided the grass, and a hundred other little traditions that only Aggies seem to understand.

I may never have gone to a single football game while a student at A&M.  But I’ll be damned if I’ll be called a 2 Percenter.

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