Are We Gators Yet?

We just got home from a visit to University of Florida. This was our first college visit for Jack, and our first college visit in Florida. Suffice it to say, we were impressed. Hell, I filled out an application before I left. (And my essay was decent. I think I may have a shot.)

According to our tour guides, Eva Longoria and James Franko, life at the University of Florida is one long, fun, but well-managed, in-control, well-appointed party. The University of Florida leaves no stone unturned. In fact, they’ll turn over your stone for you, polish it for free, pick it up in a van, build a platform for it out of solid Mayan silver and turn it into a job offer for you.

These two tour guides - even though one wasn’t even a PR major - had us convinced that if you can get accepted, you’ll have scored a life of luxury for four key years. For a billion dollars or a 5.0 GPA, once you’re accepted as a Gator, you’re pretty much treated like Paris Hilton when she’s staying at one of her own hotels. On her birthday. On her 18th birthday.

Florida has an unlimited food meal plan where you get to eat whatever you want, as long as you want to (dining halls close at 2 a.m.). And if that’s not enough, they’ll give you some fake money to use at one of the 500 fast food restaurants on campus. Is this college or a cruise? They have nine different libraries with shelves that automatically move like at Hogwarts. They have many, many gyms with Olympic sized swimming pools, indoor tracks, and high-tech equipment that will give you six-pack abs just by leaning up against it.

If you break your leg, a van will come and pick you up and drive you from class to class. “But what if I break my arm,” you may ask. They’ll provide you with a scribe to follow you around to your classes and take notes. (Eva Longoria told us, however, it’s not all a bed of roses: Sometimes your scribe is not of your same major. Oh, god, you may as well be at Georgia.)

“What if I screw up and just drink too much while I’m a student here?” They’ll send the Later Gator bus to pick you up anywhere you are - High Street in Columbus, Ohio, not excluded - and drive you back to your dorm.

“What if my bike breaks?” They’ll fix it for free. “But what about my computer?” They’ll fix that for free, too, and let you use one of theirs while you wait.

“What if I suck at college and all my parents’ money is wasted?” They’ll assign a job counselor to you and 90 percent guarantee you an internship and/or a job at the end of your four years.

“What if I hate people, am an anti-social psychopath, and don’t even want to come here?” They’ll let you have a private room as a freshman. You can have your car on campus, too, so you can drive away anytime you want.

“What if I’m being attacked?” Just press one of the 6,000 big blue buttons on a pole, which are placed within an arm’s reach of every square foot on campus and in a guaranteed 90 seconds one of three police departments that are assigned to campus will be there to save you and your special life.

Here’s my question: This atmosphere is preparation for . . . what? This is Shangri-La U. It was bad enough in Kentucky when colleges were simply filled with blond, thin-but-busty college girls, but in Florida they’ve created a utopia.

As far as I know, all these improvements in college have not changed the entry-level life situation that I went through 30 years ago: A job in Coshocton, Ohio, that paid barely above the poverty level, living in a studio apartment above an insurance office that had wood panelling on the ceiling and no sink in the bathroom, eating corn dogs alone in front of the radio (I didn’t have a TV because cable was $12 that I couldn’t afford). There was no gym, no free help and I could have screamed bloody murder for an hour before the Coshocton Police Department got off their fat asses to come and save me.

Despite the country club stink surrounding this place, I think it would be cool for Jack to go there. If for no other reason, the University of Florida is where Gatorade was invented. How cool is that?

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