One of the two times that I spent out-of-the-classroom time with Professor Aged Cheese, was when a group of us road the tourist ferry across the Mersey river. I cannot help but like Professor Aged Cheese, crotchety man that he attempts to be; speed-smoker, Marxist, possible generational sexist, plus he bought me two Guinness at the Caledonia—what’s not to like, really? At the time, I didn’t necessarily think of it as a ‘time with Professor Aged Cheese,’ moment, but now, well, things evolve.
I know it was a day we did out-of-the-classroom lecture, and I think it was the International Slavery Museum (ISM) but I’m not positive. It was InLove and Professor Aged Cheese that I remember interacting with the most, but about ten or so of us went.
I enjoyed it for a myriad of reasons; it was the closest to ‘outdoors’ I got besides jogging in parks, while I was in Europe, it was low-key, relaxing, and according to Professor Aged Cheese, loosely a local experience (if you take away, all the touristic parts).
We bought the tickets and had a wait. Professor Aged Cheese was being a macho butt head and wouldn’t let me take his picture. Thanks to zoom, I got one anyway—very dreamy actually. It was in between cigarette drags, his silver curls blowing in the wind as he gazed across the river.
Professor Aged Cheese told me about how there were regular ferries that people used to commute everyday. He told me that ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ was significant in that it was a first direct shout out to Liverpool (something the Beatles never wrote songs about, having been there now, I cannot understand why). Also he explained that it wasn’t ‘across,’ it was cross. An imploring “Ferry, cross the Mersey.” He is a person that genuinely loves his Merseyside, all it entails, enough to want to stay and make it better.
As he told me all these things, the sky was the makings of some summer Seattle days I’ve had; it oozes into the hottest time of day without really seeing the sun and not quite raining. Though it did finally sprinkle a bit during the ride. The breeze was such that you felt a little lighter while it teased through your hair. True to my character that I assumed as a temporary Liverpoodlian, I bought a not-so-tasty canned Guinness to sip on for the duration of the tour ride.
A posh English voice identified the buildings we passed by on the opposite shore and gave us historical facts. We took pictures (us American students, not Professor Aged Cheese). I especially remember the crazy looking buoys; floating, tar-colored blimps covered in little tires.
I wanted to blend in while I was in Liverpool—not stick out as American—get a look at the “real” Liverpool, not just the tourist/shopping scene. It’s why I specifically had getting a haircut on my list of things to do while I was there.
I did it after Rita’s tour of Liverpool highlighting its ties to the slave trade and after having several uncharacteristically sunny days in a row, it was threatening to rain. I was delighted. I’d finally get to use the umbrella I’d packed anticipating all the rain. I would not have to worry about sunburn and growing up in a desert (albeit a fairly green one) I have always loved the rain.
I know her name started with an ‘M’, Melissa I wanna say. I really should remember my hairdresser’s name because she was adorable and did a fantastic job. Good thing too, cause it was 30 pounds plus and American sized tip that they allegedly don’t do the same there. (I’m suspicious that crotchety Professor Aged Cheese might just be a stickler for tips.)
She told me I made her think of P!nk when I walked in and I admitted I was a fan. We talked music for awhile; cliché as it is, I was a lover of the Beatles in Liverpool. She loved Mo-town. Apparently it was all the rage in Liverpool/UK at the time. Who knew? I loved their 40-50 year old music, and they loved our 40-50 year old music.
She told me about how most beauticians go to school right out of secondary (high school) but she had waited a while and gone to a college for training as a result. She also realized when I asked, that yes, she did always have an umbrella on her, though she’d never really thought about it. I was something you just always had in your bag along with your wallet, flat keys and chapstick.
She also really wanted to visit America and told me she would be going on her honeymoon to Florida.
“Oh, are you engaged?” I asked.
“No, I’m not dating anyone,” she says. “That’s just where I’m going to go when it happens.”
“Oh,” I smiled. Guess women across the pond plan weddings beforehand too.
I paid her and walked uphill Water Street to Mulberry and Myrtle where the bus would come for me, just a half a block from Caledonia Pub, on Caledonia Street, where Professor Aged Cheese and Mr. S invited me out and bought me some Guinness, just like a peer.
I sometimes forget that I am adult because I’m so often very terrible at it. I definitely made mistakes while I was over there, but I also definitely grasp tight to that confident, 24-year-old woman, roaming the streets of Merseyside.