Dinner with 12 Tar Heels

One of my favorite things about Carolina has to be the free dinners. Mostly, it’s just free pizza, but because I’m in the Student Alumni Association (SAA), I get to attend dinners with different notable Carolina alumni. Two weeks ago, the guest of honor was Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Winston Crisp. The location: Spanky’s.

Spanky’s was one of the main places my dad and I went in Chapel Hill. It’s where I ate dinner with my dorm suite after we moved in our first year. One time, I drove a bowl of their vegetarian chili six hours in a cooler from Chapel Hill to my sister in Atlanta. Yes, it’s that good.

At the SAA dinner, there was a prix fixe menu, so I couldn’t get my usual: cup of veggie chili and southwestern salad. I tried the kale salad, which came with roasted sweet potatoes, blue cheese, quinoa, pecans and a lemon-basil vinaigrette. Unfortunately, I didn’t know anyone around me well enough to steal a french fry (they looked and smelled amazing), so next time I go, I’ll have to add an order of fries to my meal.

But the best part about the dinner at Spanky’s was the guest of honor. It’s not every day students get to sit down with the Vice Chancellor, who happens to be a graduate from the UNC School of Law. Crisp used to be the Dean of Students, so he had endless stories involving everything from terrible Halloween costumes (one student shaved his chest hair into a bra shape) to rooftop trespassing.

Between the hilarious stories and delicious food, Crisp also gave us some of the sagest advice I’ve gotten at UNC. He spoke mainly to the seniors, telling us to forget the notion that we’re going to have one career like our parents. He told us that our paths, like his, won’t necessarily be straight, and that’s okay. And maybe it was a little bit cheesy, but he quoted John Lennon, telling us, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

He also invited us to sit down and list all the times in our lives when we really felt alive. Those moments when we’re happiest, he said, are all connected, and can show us what kind of job we’d be happy doing. For him, coaching children’s basketball and working with Civil Rights law were when he was happiest. He knew he needed a job where he could teach and help people.

Before I knew it, almost two hours passed and I was shaking the Vice Chancellor’s hand. Before we left, he gave us some final words of wisdom in the form of a UNC bucket list. Here are the things that stood out to me:

  • Climb the Bell Tower.
  • Go to a softball game at Anderson Stadium.
  • Take your favorite professor out to dinner or coffee before you graduate.

The last one is going to be the hardest for me because I have too many favorite professors. But, since only one of them is probably reading this, Gary, expect an informal invitation very soon!

 

SPANKY’S RESTAURANT & BAR: 101 East Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27514, (919) 967-2678, spankysrestaurant.com. Lunch everyday 11am-5pm; Dinner Sun-Thurs 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm; Sunday brunch 11am-3pm. $$. Beer, wine and spirits. Credit cards accepted.

 

 

 

 

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