“Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.” — David Letterman
September 17th, 2015, a few minutes before 4:00 pm — we can hardly breathe. It is hot and stuffy in here. I am rolling up my sleeves in front of the mirror and wash my face. We are ready to go. Balázs and I step out of the bathroom and set out towards the lobby on the fourth floor. The venue is Building R on our campus. As we get closer, the indistinct noise of a small crowd fades in. We catch sight of Era, greet her, and the three of us settle down on a desk by the wall. The place is jam-packed with people. There are only a few untaken seats. We are waiting for our turn, perplexed.
It is time. Margit Szesztay announces the TAKE FIVE club and calls our names. I grab the packet of freshly printed flyers and take it to the “stage”. We are in the spotlight. Dozens of freshmen, graduate students and teachers are staring at us curiously. Here we go. The presentation doesn’t take off seamlessly, but that is only how we feel. The audience seems to resonate with us. They respond with laughter to every little joke. Before we finish up, I address the freshmen and encourage them to join us today for our fall season opening. “Thank you very much for your attention.” A round of applause ensues.
A couple of students run to us for flyers and ask about the club enthusiastically. A girl and a boy appear. They would come with us and check out the club, they say. While we are waiting to move on to CD-FŰ, I strike up a conversation with them. Dorina and Dani are both first-year teacher trainees of the freshly reintroduced undivided program. I tell them not to worry about the uninteresting introductory courses. The best is yet to come.
6:00 pm — after having woven our way through the jungle of narrow streets, we arrive at CD-FŰ. The ever-delightful manager lady welcomes us with a smile. I fish the stack of flyers out of my backpack and walk up to her. I feel the bonds between TAKE FIVE and CD-FŰ are becoming stronger. They have shared our event first time since we moved here. We have put their logo on the flyer. She is grateful, and so are we. I hand her about fifteen pieces and she places them on the counter.
There is no crowd today. I count thirteen participants, including the three of us. I am holding the first color envelope in my hand. The topic is “Good intentions”. After a few minutes it turns out to be somewhat philosophical, not easily tangible. Nevertheless, the groups are eagerly discussing it, sometimes going off on a tangent. I decide to bring one more topic in, to resolve the tightening philosophical atmosphere. “Cursive writing is obsolete, or is it?” says the description. This will do, I think.
Around 8:00 pm — we are smack dab in the middle of the game. The groups are inventing funny university courses, such as “How to be cool I.” Three more guests arrive and sit down at the farthest table. To my great surprise, James Leavey walks in. He used to be my language practice teacher in the first year. I have been expecting him for a while. He spots the beers behind us and decides to join. On the way to the bar we discuss the problem of quantity. In Hungary, a glass of beer is the small one. A pint of beer is more, but in many countries it is not the same amount as a korsó here. It is not a challenge to bridge the cultural gap, though: he orders a glass of Soproni, in Hungarian.
The fall season of 2015 is in full swing now. I kindly remind everyone to pester us with topic ideas as the black cylinder hat is getting more and more hollow. Contribute to this new season with your precious thoughts and get ready for the upcoming session! The forecast says there is an impending swarm of freshmen arriving on Thursday, 6:00 pm. Besides them, we are missing a few old dogs. Are you joining us next time?