Many years ago I was a faculty member at McNeese State. I taught no classes.

I’d been hired as the audio-visual director for the College of Nursing. Traditionally, the job was a civil servant position. But the dean had two civil service employees, and didn’t want another. 

She hated the civil evaluations the state required her to do.

So I had teacher status, and could eat in the lunchroom without getting a little card punched and check out a library book with a “fill in the blank” due date. 

Apparently, my old fraternity thought this important enough to make me its faculty advisor.

As such, I was the liaison between the frat and administration and went to a good share of meetings. 

I mostly let the frat boys do the talking, figuring it would prepare them for the world. 

But pointless meetings are pointless, no matter what decade you’re in. College just gets you started earlier.

One Friday, the fraternity had a big blow-out at Annie’s Drinkery, a little place with pool tables, bandstand, jukebox and bar. 

It was a private party, but you could bring a non-member. 

A bunch of guys we liked to call “The Sulphur Contingent” did just that, showing up with a young Naval officer. 

I met him briefly, a nice kid. About 1:30 a.m., he and the Sulphur boys left. I waved goodbye and stayed till closing time.

They drove to Sulphur and went to sleep. All but one young man, who decided he had to pop some popcorn. 

Being quite drunk, he forgot to turn the oven off.

About 7, I got a call about a fire. Everyone got out except the Naval guy. 

As faculty advisor, someone elected me to talk to the police.

The Sulphur officer I spoke with described the body as, “ … a charred roast leg of lamb,” an image I’ve never been able to get rid of. 

“You know, he was going to ship out on Monday. Guess he figured a party would do him good. Irony I guess.”

“Yeah, guess it is,” I said.

That night, a bunch of us went to Annie’s to tell the owner what happened. 

One man was gone, another’s life pretty much ruined. 

We all just sat there bleary-eyed, and said how ironic it was.

The television played “The Honeymooners.”  

Norton and Trixie had their house painted, and moved in with Alice and Ralph.

The gals took up the bedroom, and the guys “batched” in the kitchen. 

Ralph went to sleep.

Ed was restless, so lit a cigarette and Ralph’s blanket caught on fire.

He jumped up screaming, eyes real wide in Gleason mode and cussed out Norton.

A friend turned and remarked, “God is playing a real cruel joke on us.”

I got up to pay my tab and said, “More like the devil.” 

[Readers may write Robert Hankins at]