My mother’s brother graduated Ole Miss law school with John Grisham in the 80s. They called Grisham “Scotch Tape” because his stupid plaid jacket resembled the adhesive’s outward brand. It was the 80s.
My uncle, John — not the novelist — graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983. He did his undergrad in his home state of Florida at UF, as he should have. That fit him best, and he always went to Gator games.
Deuce McAllister was his favorite player ever, because he never fumbled in college.
John died in 2016. He hurt, suffered, and eventually succumbed to cancer last year. He was a great, wonderful human, who should always be remembered first and foremost as a surfer and secondarily as an attorney. He was excellent under both hats, but I knew him primarily as a surfer and an uncle. That’s how he skipped school, anyway, and that’s how I would drive up and visit him during my time at UF.
He went to Ole Miss in the weird period. He attended Ole Miss in the early 80s, when Rebel football was a head-scratcher, basketball was a non-entity, and baseball was actually kinda good, but nobody watched it. He lived in the basement of a standard Oxford house, and it had a pool table for some reason.
One night, while both were shit-faced, he and my mother were pulled over on campus. John was driving. Margie jumped out of the car from the passenger’s side and claimed SHE was driving. He was somehow not as drunk as Mom and the cop told John to drive Mom home. She was crowing about the injustice of it all, even though her brother was the damn lawyer.
Why not. Mississippi, after all.
Uncle John apparently had a hell of a night after walking across the stage for his lawyerin’ graduation ceremony. This was the final Ole Miss law class that automatically passed the Mississippi bar, mind. Uncle John presumably went out and got historically drunk with Wendy, his at the time girlfriend, who now practices law in Green Bay, Wisc. Wendy didn’t like too much that John was moving back to Florida to work — he gave up the stupid excuses of cold and distance and difference, as men do — and she threw his law class watch against the wall.
That watch shattered all over the damn place.
Hootie shattered all over the place last year. He took medications that broke apart his mind. His Ole Miss law degree stood six feet tall, a tower of untranslated Latin that he constantly asked me to translate for those that stepped foot in his office. “With all the rights privileges thereunto appertaining ... thus sworn member of the Mississippi Association of Bar Accredited Attorneys.” And so forth. I did that.
He was wonderful.