As school is starting to get underway, I am reminded of this dumb tale...because...well...it's dumb. This story comes from my college days on the campus of the small state university I attended.
When everyone on campus would go out on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, most people made their way to a place affectionately known as "The Hill." Why was it called The Hill? Well, it was a big hill on the edge of campus that had a lot of bars on it. Within a one-block span, The Hill boasted at least 5 or 6 bars where the college kids would all hang out and create a general disturbance. To get to The Hill from our dorm, it was a fairly long jaunt across campus. It was far enough that during the winter time, the distance caused some to even consider walking to their cars and driving there. Plus it didn't help that most of the sidewalks going in the direction of The Hill didn't go STRAIGHT there. They curved and meandered though certain parts campus as though the person who designed the sidewalks had a thing against straight and direct sidewalks. This caused most people to leave the sidewalk and cut across the grass on the section of campus near The Hill. This section of campus had lots of established pine and oak trees....so actually that may have been why there was not a straight-shot sidewalk through to The Hill.
|The purple line is the path we took to the bars from the dorm.
The large purple path is "The Mexican Blackbird."
During one outing to The Hill, someone came up with the idea of calling this shortcut through the trees "The Mexican Blackbird." The original source for this moniker has been lost over the years, but it is believed to have originated with two gentlemen affectionately known as "Oaf*" and "Gopher.*" In researching the name "Mexican Blackbird," odds are high that Oaf and Gopher obtained this name from the movie "Young Guns II" as they were avid viewers. In the movie, Billy the Kid refers to The Mexican Blackbird as a trail to Mexico that only he and a few others know about, so it would make sense for Oaf and Gopher to designate the trail to The Hill as such.
I also learned that "Mexican Blackbird" is a song by ZZ Top that tells the story about a Mexican prostitute, and Urbandictionary.com says that a Mexican Blackbird is female who has a Hispanic mother and a African-American father. Whether this is derogatory or not I do not know because I am neither Hispanic or African-American. If it is, I apologize.
Nevertheless. The name "Mexican Blackbird" stuck and everyone in the circle of people I went to the bars with called it that. It was sort of exciting going through the Blackbird on our way to the bars because it had that feeling like you shouldn't be there. Plus when you are intoxicated and add a name like "Mexican Blackbird" to something, it sounds like you are on a secret mission. Cutting across campus like that was somewhat frowned upon back in the day as it had no lighting and it was quite secluded due to all the trees. Because of the seclusion, it was not uncommon to hear someone say something like: "You won't believe what I saw on The Blackbird last night." I heard stories of couples getting "friendly" behind trees, random fights, people vomiting next to trees, and even people passing out and sleeping there overnight. Sadly, I know two people who were guilty of the latter two offenses.
One night, our dorm-mate "Lazer*" puked his guts out next to a tree along the Blackbird after a night of over-consumption. Another time, our friend "Philly" stayed too long at the bar by himself and didn't quite make it home. For some reason he chose to lay down and pass out under a pine tree in the Mexican Blackbird. He laid there until morning when he finally woke up and stumbled home to the dorm. None of us could believe the fact that nobody saw him or that Public Safety didn't find him. It has been suggested that Lazer and Philly's events happened the same night and next to the same tree, but this has neither been confirmed or denied. However it was noted that Philly did smell like hell when he came back the next morning after spending the night on the Blackbird.
To this day, I often wonder if the kids still call this shortcut "The Mexican Blackbird" but I'm going to bet they don't. I know that in the years since my attendance at the college, the area has been closed from time to time due to campus construction and the ability to access it was totally cut off. I'm willing to bet that when this was done, the name received a sad lonely death.
I for one think the tradition should be re-started, and a plaque should be put in place officially designating the location as The Mexican Blackbird. Yes it's stupid, but so is half the stuff they build on college campuses. Everyone knows that if you have enough money, a college will build anything and name it whatever you want to get your money.
I might have to get something going on Kickstarter for that.
(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent.
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