5 – Blog 18 – The Standing Band

Saturday morning, David Minehan is sitting up watching us sleep. I know he wants to comment on our deviant sexuality.

“Don’t say nothin.’ We always sleep tucked in tagether. At least ya got yer own bed.”

He laughs. “When am I gonna hear this Harvard Standing Band?”

“Rock n roll never wakes up this early.”

We drag ourselves down to commons to eat. His appetite is just like his need for alcohol. Luckily it is unlimited porridge that morning. The girls come in together and sit with us, surprised we are up so early.

“Teenager,” we point at David who grins over his bowl of gruel.

As some of our corridor mates wander in, they scowl at us sitting with five cute co-eds. Maybe they are just hung-over.

We head for the boiler room and set up, with Minehan on guitar, Jack on rhythm, Jill on bass and me on the drums. We really need to find a drummer.

David strums a few leads and starts a rap about the previous night.

‘Went to the Rat

Stuck at the door

There I sat

Lonely and bored.

Out came two fags

Kissing and such

I had to rag

They don’t care much

They bought me a beer

Five beauties appear

Made me their pet

I’ll get some yet.’

The girls scream and throw various found objects at him.

“Ew, we thought you were nice.”

“We don’t need a pet.”

Minehan grabs his junk and makes rude gestures. Jack starts playing ‘Walk This Way.’ The girls start voguing and posing in the boiler room.  David does his best Joe Perry imitation.

This goes on for a while. Apparently we wake up all of Mower House, as grumpy, disheveled students of all persuasions come wandering in. We make up limericks for each one. David knows all these  lame ones which he turns bawdy;

The ‘Cliffies are so shocked they jump and sing their own limerick: ‘Roll Me Over in the Clover.’

‘Roll me over, in the clover

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

The is number one and the fun is just begun

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

This is number two

I don’t know what to do

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

This is number three

My hand is on her knee

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

This is number four

We’re rolling on the floor

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

This is number five

I’m barely still alive

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

This is number six

I’m really in a fix

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

This is number seven

We finally got to heaven

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

This is number eight

And her period is late

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

This is number nine

It all worked out just fine

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

This is number ten

I’m ready to do it again

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

‘Roll me over, in the clover

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.’


We are shocked.

College fun. Guys get up, thinking we are karaoke machines, as we play their favorite rock songs so they can make fools of themselves. It quickly devolves into chaos. We all go up to the third floor to hang out with the girls. David is exhilarated from performing. He is a natural. I recommend that he find friends who want to play with him and start his own band. He totally gets the playing from the heart bit but seems immune to Jace’s attempts to touch him. Perhaps he worries one of us is making moves on him. Jace signs that almost everyone in New England seems shut off from sensing him. I guess if you were a Red Sox fan through all the dry years, trusting anyone is hard. Despite ‘Pudge’ Fisk’s heroics, the Sox lost the final game of the ’75 World Series. Anyway, Minehan seems to be in touch with his own music. He needs little instruction. We tell him all about our times as ‘False Gods’ playing parties, frats, road houses, storefront churches, and seedy clubs. He is raring to go. We tell  him to go back to Waltham and get his friends in the neighborhood to back him up. We promise to see him at the Rat next weekend. He promises to not drink so much. Right.

It is time for our road trip to Smith. I hope that Joey will be working at Rahar’s that night. Jill offers to come with, to protect us from all the lesbians.  Smith has a reputation. We know she is a bit jealous. We promise not to be molested by lesbians and to report back the next day on our findings.

“You sure you don’t want us to get phone numbers for you?” we kid her.

“Ew, not my scene.”

“You seem to know all about it.”

“People just talking,” is her lame excuse. Feminism has its own pitfalls and prejudices.

Troy, the junior giving us a ride, is friendly, full of advice on how to act on a blind date. I pull out my RayBans and do my Blind Willie act. He laughs at my blues singing. I miss my guide dog, Max. Pretty soon we are all singing along to the radio, Boston’s ‘BCN is new, playing songs you never hear on other stations. All three of us sit in the front of his beat-up ’64 Dodge Dart. The Cars come on; we all are rocking back and forth, waving our arms and singing totally off-key as loudly as possible. Troy insists on keeping the windows down, even though it is cold that early Fall day. We get lots of scowls and negative reactions as we blow through the little towns on the way west to Northampton. We stop at a Friendly’s Ice Cream store, eating patty melts and slurping Awful Awful shakes – awful big, awful good. The burgers are as greasy as the southern ones at the roadhouse in Charlotte.

“Why aren’t you two as up-tight as other freshmen?” Troy asks.

“We aren’t really looking for girlfriends,” Jack admits.

“You don’t like girls?”

“No problem. We already share five ‘Cliffies from the dorm. We took ‘em all out last night, got all drunk and had to talk our way past the Yard Guard.”

“No problems in the girlfriend department then?”

“Only when they don’t keep up.”

“You’re the two who are on probation already,” he has our number.

“Just warnings so far,” I correct him.

“Let me warn you that you’re on your own tonight. Any trouble and I don’t know you.”

“Thanks a lot, Troy. Don’t leave us hanging. Girls have a tendency to take away our clothes,” I joke.

“You are the cocky one,” he has checked out our reputations. “And you’re the slick talker,” he also has Jack’s number.

We all plan to meet at Rahar’s, for the ride back to Cambridge. Troy’s date, Venus, is friendly. She introduces us to our dates, Trudie and Joan, sticking around to make sure no one backs out at first sight. Jack takes the lead with a charm offensive. We keep it casual, not pairing off right away. Venus gives us a stamp of approval.

I suggest we go on a long walk to casually get to know each other. The girls are also roommates. We have that in common to talk about. Trudie has a strong East Coast accent. Jack thinks it is fun to mimic her, claiming to be a New York City resident himself. I claim Iowa, which goes over like a lead balloon. I suppress my good ol’ boy persona, getting winks of approval from Jack.

“What’s it like to share a room,” Joan asks me.

“Oh, I have twin sisters. They never let me alone, even choosing my clothes for school everyday,” I answer. “Jack’s easy to get along with after them always bossing me around.”

“I felt weird at first,” Joan admits, “but Trudie’s really down-to-earth. We even started sharing clothes. She thinks I need a style upgrade.”

Jack gives them both an appraising look. Mummy has taught him all about style. “Well, Joan needs darker clothes to offset her light coloring. Trudie’s short hair says she’s not a hippie and the short skirt and loose blouse are very stylish. It would seem strange if you wore each other’s outfits.”

“You are so New York,” they gush, pleased to take Jack’s fashion advice.

They ask about our summer jobs. They want to know all about Liza Minnelli, when we said we had both been interns on her latest film. They had never heard of Robert De Niro.

“You worked together this summer?”

“Yeah,” Jack replies. “Tim wants to be an entertainer and wasn’t sure he should even go to college. I talked him into applying to Harvard. I had early acceptance. He got in and now we’re roommates.”

“I thought you were from Iowa,” Trudie asks me. “How did you know Mr. New York City here?”

“We were in school together in Miami until junior year. Both of us moved away, but we’ll always be friends, so we kept in touch,” Jack stays away from details.

“How did you get to be such good friends?” Trudie’s inquisition is reminding me of Angie.

“Jack was my understudy in ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream.’ I switched to play the music. He took over my role and after that he joined our band.”

“What kind of band?”

“Mostly old dance songs at first. Then we had to do our own songs. It was just all our friends from the neighborhood.”

“Will you do a song for us?” Joan politely asks.

We’re walking along a path, overlooking a lake and surrounded by trees.  I know the perfect song.

“Well, we have to get into our band costumes. Don’t look while we change,” I instruct the girls who sit on the grass by the path. They put their hands over their eyes. I can tell that Trudie is peeking. I whisper ‘Barefoot Boy” to Jack. He giggles as we take our sneakers off.

“Okay to look now,” I announce. They don’t notice any change of attire. “This song’s called ‘Barefoot Boy.’ It’s about how we climbed trees in the neighborhood.”

‘Barefooted boy

Makes a stand

To take his joy

Going hand to hand

Flying out free

Branch to branch

Through the trees

Reckless chance.

Free to be

A monkey like me

Ha ha ha

He he he

Haw haw haw

Chee chee chee’

We do the monkey shines for the girls and then jump into the lower branches of the nearest tree.

We swing back and forth, continuing to sing the chorus:

“Free to be

A monkey like me

Ha ha ha

He he he

Haw haw haw

Chee chee chee”

We jump down  and pull the girls to their feet, repeating the chorus, while mimicking monkeys. They just laugh at us, until we give up trying to get them to do the monkeyshines, too.

“You want to give up Harvard to do that?” Trudie mocks me.

“It was a big hit at frat parties. One time the football team chased us up a mango tree.”

“What happened?”

“We threw mangoes at them. They swore revenge the next night. We had to hire them as security when we played a stadium gig.”

“People in Miami like your band?”

“So much so we were banned and had to move out-of-state. That’s why we were separated. Tim went to his mom’s in Iowa. I had to go to Switzerland, but I ran away and graduated from Regis in the City.”

“Why were you banned?”

“Tim’s dog was shot by the police. I gave him a beer he didn’t even drink. The cops busted him for underage drinking.”

“You had to move?”

“My dad’s retired military and really strict,” I explain. “The cops told him I was out of control. He let them lock me up.”

“That why you went to your mom’s?”

“Pretty much. I really like Iowa. I even got me a country accent.”

They giggle. “We’re not so interesting. I hope you’re not bored.”

“Does flying through the trees and singing to you seem like we’re bored?”

“This is our first blind date. It’s not what I expected,” Joan confesses.

I put on my RayBans and do my Blind Willie act, singing Robert Johnson’s ‘Crossroads.’ Jack pulls out a harmonica and provides the blues riffs.

The girls are eating out of our hands. They sway and bob their heads as I sing and Jack plays. Harmonica is just another surprise from Jack, the little nerd.

It is after six. The girls had promised to check in with Venus. We are all having fun, so I know they will not prematurely end our blind date. All four of us skip up to the girl’s dormitory, an old Victorian mansion. Troy and Venus are waiting for us on the porch. Apparently Jack and I pass the audition. We all go to eat at a local Italian restaurant. We skip pizza and have plain spaghetti dinners. Ethnic food is proving to be a hit in New England. Although we have yet to taste a New England boiled dinner. Troy is amused by the girls’ stories about our tree climbing and blues singing. Jack even takes out his harmonica and blows some riffs. Apparently our need to perform constantly is considered odd but amusing by the college crowd. They are not the usual football jocks we entertained at our U of M frat shows. Jack pulls out his BankAmericard and pays the entire bill – $25. We are blowing our dirt poor student reputations. Then again, we are a long way from Cambridge. What harm can it do being our abnormal selves here?

Jack brags, “I haven’t had so much fun since last night.”

After we tell about the previous night’s antics, the girls are jealous that the ‘Cliffies live in a co-ed dorm.

“Isn’t it weird to share bathrooms?” Venus asks.

“The girls have the entire third floor. There’s a guy who walks around up there in a towel but everyone treats him like a perv,” I explain. “Last night the guys were all getting drunk, so the girls stayed up on three. We asked them come with us to the club in Boston.”

“You went nightclubbing?”

“Well, the Rat is a basement under a restaurant. The girls adopted a high school kid. He got drunk. We were all kicked out after we jumped on stage and played a Cars song.”

“You guys are a trip,” Trudie decides.

“They call us firecrackers in the South,” Jack likes to brag.

“What were you doing in the South?” Troy asks.

“They told us they’re both from Miami and were in a band in high school together,” Trudie exposes the truth.

Troy looks skeptical. We can set the record straight on the drive back to Cambridge.

Time to head to the bar. Helen told Joey I am coming. He is at the door and lets us in with no cover charge; it is a rowdy bar in a ramshackle converted country restaurant. There is no DJ but a jukebox is playing old rock n roll. The bands will come on later. We get seated and drinks are comp’d, again by Joey. He apparently is making a success of his rehab. Or, perhaps he is the dealer for the club’s junkies. I’m not going to ask.

Joey sits with us, quizzing the girls on how his ‘little dude brother’ is doing on the dating front.

The girls look embarrassed, so Troy comes to my rescue. “They say he’s a firecracker.”

“Heard that one before,” Joey laughs.

This is a new Joey, more garrulous and less circumspect. I worry he is about to relate stories of our adventures when I was 14. Perhaps he is more sensitive now, excusing himself to go back to work. He tells the bar tender to continue to comp our drinks. Troy and Venus take this generosity to get totally drunk. I know who is driving back to Cambridge. Troy willingly hands over his keys. Jack is confused by the middle class concept of free drinks. He freely indulges. Our ‘dates’ know better, especially Joan who is only 17. Troy gets us up dancing to the jukebox under the premise that exercise burns off excess alcohol. When the bands start playing, we are already warmed up. We make it easy for the other patrons to get up and boogie.

At the end, Joey pulls me aside.

“I never thanked youse fer comin’ to my rescue this Spring. I’d have neva come back heah if it had just been yer old man, Uncle Bert, come ta collect me.”

“Yer doin’ good, Joey. Just keep it up”

“I luv ya, little dude,” and he hugs me. I now tower over him. His words make me feel 14, needy and emotional, again.

We get the girls back to the dorm way past their curfew. The battle-axe house-mother lectures us on being more responsible.  We are not the first college students to hear that speech. We solemnly nod and wave good night to the girls. Joan and Trudie run back outside and give us big kisses, along with the dorm’s telephone number. Jack is swapping tongue with Joan while I am more respectful with Trudie. I am conflicted on double dating with my boyfriend. There has to be an ethical dilemma there. Drinking makes it seem less hypocritical.

Driving back, Troy sacks out in the Dart’s back seat. Jack collapses against my shoulder, ending up with his head in my lap. When I get hard, he murmurs, “How nice,” but is sound asleep before we can do anything. I have to stop at an all-night gas station to get a map to find the way back to Cambridge. I wake up Troy who shows me where to park the Dart. We get him to his dorm, thanking him for a successful road trip. He responds by barfing up both the Friendly’s patty melt and the evening’s spaghetti. Not a pleasing combination. We call it the Awful Awful offal. The next surprise is finding Minehan in Jack’s bed back at the frosh dorm. Jill put a note on the door to warn us. They rescued him from the boy corridor’s second all night drinking bout. David was the first one to pass out.

Jack stops me from kicking him out, explaining we never use that bed anyway. A full night of hetero dating has spiked my testosterone. I relent, as we quickly regain our homo-hormonal balance. Again I awake to David sitting up in Jack’s bed and watching us. Jack runs naked to a window and throws up on the flower beds below.  Minehan groans and pulls the covers over his head.

Breakfast in commons relieves the hangovers and revives our energy. I execute the surest plan to get a high schooler to go home by insisting we all have to make morning mass at St Paul’s. Climbing under the covers doesn’t work this time. He relents, thinking it’s a bluff. After all three of us attend, he promptly leaves for home. Jill sticks her head in, asking how we got rid of him.

“Mass,” Jack answers.

She laughs. “You boys are crazy.”

Troy comes by in the afternoon We suggest he attend evening mass to fix his still raging hangover. He looks at us, finally laughing when he decides we are putting him on. We swear we went in the morning. He has an invitation for us to meet the Harvard Lampoon editors before their weekly evening staff meeting. He is a staff writer and claims he was duly impressed with our exploits this weekend. I figure he hopes to insure more free drinks on Saturday nights at Rahar’s. Joining exclusive clubs is Jack’s secret joy and ambition at Harvard. I am just along for the ride.

We run up to three and inform our female posse of the invitation to join the Lampoon.

“Perfect for you, Tim,”  Jill dissects the opportunity. “I think, Jack, you’re more of a Hasty Pudding type.”

I remark, “We’re both more into Creme Brule.”

Jack thinks about it. “Well, we could do both. Tim and I are a team.”

“First, let’s see if they want us,” I suggest.

“No,” says Jill, “You have to approach them. They don’t recruit. I’m surprised that the Lampoon is reaching out. Did you have to blow somebody?”

“Jill!” we both object, while the other girls giggle at our discomfort. “We did get free drinks at Rehar’s last night for the writer who recommended us.”

“Just as good as a blowjob and more antiseptic,” Jill is on a roll. “I don’t see any girls on the staff.”

“Oh, Jill,” Jack puts on the charm. “Even though you’re ‘just’ a ‘Cliffie, you live at Harvard and take your classes here. We’ll recommend you once we get in. How can they refuse?”

They all roll their eyes. Separate but equal is not just a civil rights rant.

Jack is in a frenzy about what to wear to our interview. I suggest we reprise our plastic garbage bags.

“I see us as representing the plastic people.”

“Grow up. These are preppies. We have to wear  2f1920deeaa141c07bb3738da2d8232d.  You can borrow mine.”

“How about we not change at all and pretend we’re not impressed that they choose us to be their intern slaves?”

“This is important, Tim,” he pleads.

“Okay, but no J Press. We’ll go to the Coop and buy Harvard gear, like we’re all rah rah.”

“Polos, no tees,” he insists.

Jace had been sitting on our bed, laughing at us. He strips naked and prances around. Jack loses his shit, yelling at both of us that we will never make it at Harvard. Jace and I look at each other and burst out laughing.

“Who cares,” I comment.

Jack collapses and starts sobbing. “No one cares what I want.”

“When did you ever not get exactly what you want?” I argue.

“Oh Tim, I just want you to want what I want. Wear whatever but try to sound like you want to be on the Lampoon.”

“Okay. Okay,” I comply.

A head pops up from the other side of Jack’s bed. Minehan had passed out in our room.

“You our new roommate?” I ask.

“Yeah. I’m ready for college. Can I come to the interview? We can do that song I wrote about the Rat.”

“About the fags who adopted you?”

“I’m not sure that yer really fags now that I know ya. All you do is hang around girls.”

“That’s what fags do, in case you never met one before.”

“Ain’t no fags in Waltham.”

“That’s what you think. And, watch yerself. Tim will twang his magic twanger. You’ll be sucking dick and loving it.”

“Ew, no way.”

“Don’t you have homework for school tomorrow?”

“Monday’s skip day. Let me come with.”

“Go hang out on three with the girls. We’re a bad influence on you.”

“They hate me. Let me come as yer fan club.”

“Jesus, we’ll never be accepted on campus. Our only friends are girls and a high school kid,” Jack is depressing himself.

“Stop being so hard on yourself. The only time we make a good impression is when we’re ourselves,” I argue.

“I give up. If Hasty Pudding calls, only I can go. All you do is sabotage me.”

David leaps up and tackles Jack. I hold him down while David gives him a pink belly.  None of us gets aroused, which makes everything better.

“Can I stay now?” Minehan asks.

“Yeah. Yeah. You’re okay,” we agree.

“Go take a shower. You stink. I’ll find some preppy clothes for you to wear to the interview.”

“Me, too?” I ask, giving into his fashion dictates.

David is skittish about showering together, but there are separate stalls.  Soon he is singing his song about his fag friends at the Rat with the water mostly drowning him out.

When the three of us show up, it causes confusion for the staff. They want to interview us separately but the weekly staff meeting is about to start. They take us all into the editor’s office as a group.

“And who are you?” they ask David.

“David Minehan. I’m a day student. I live at home in Waltham.”

“Can’t afford room and board?” they snarkily ask.

“Can’t give up Mom’s cooking,” he shoots right back.

“Okay. Well, what have you written in the past?” they ask all of us.

“I rewrote Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer’s Night Dream’, making it a musical comedy,” I state.

“I was dungeon master for my D&D crew and rewrote the entire rule book,” the nerd responds.

“I wrote this song about these fags,” David laughs, standing up and singing our rap ditty from the Rat. Jack and I join him.

‘Went to the Rat

Stuck at the door

There I sat

Lonely and bored.

Out came two fags

Kissing and such

I just had to rag

They didn’t care much

They bought me a beer

Five beauties appeared

Made me their pet

I’ll get some yet.’

“We don’t call our friends names like that,” one of the editors looks insulted.

“They’re not my friends. I just let them molest me.”

Jack and I overreact, looking stunned and shaking our heads in denial.

Everyone laughs, except for the gay editor.

“I suppose you believe you can start out being writers right from the start,” the editor-in-Chief, Kurt Andersen, commences the hazing.

“Oh no, we want to be foreign correspondents.”

“And from what country do you plan to report from?”

“We already are local residents of South Boston. We’ll report from Kenmore Square. Our byline is ‘Rat News.”

David cannot stop laughing.

“What would anyone from Harvard want to know about Boston.”

“Like Friday, five ‘Cliffies got drunk and were harassing the Townies.”

The editorial staff look at each other. This is news to them.

“How did you find out they were from Radcliffe?”

“I was singing on stage,” Minehan brags.

“They live with us in Mower,” Jack adds.

“Okay,” the editor admits. “You can be foreign correspondents, reporting from across the Charles River.

“Love that dirty water, Oh Boston, you’re my home.” We all sing.

“You want to be on staff, stick around for the staff meeting,” Kurt gives up trying to intimidate us. “And no complaining about your intern duties.”

Minehan jumps up and down. He is now a real Harvardite. He rushes out of the office and starts introducing himself to the regular staffers who are waiting for the meeting to start.

“How old are you, kid?” he is asked.

“Eighteen,” he lies.

After our successful interview, the upperclassmen try to make us run errands for them. After being interns all summer, we deflect their requests. “We’re doing something for Kurt. Sorry.”

With our acceptance onto the Lampoon staff, we celebrate at Pinocchio’s, the nearby pizza place off  Harvard Square, with the girls plus Minehan. They laugh at his claim to be officially at Harvard now as a staff member on the Lampoon.

“Why didn’t you ask us to the interview?” Jill is miffed.

“We didn’t ask Minehan. He insisted on coming along. We all sang the fag song and passed the interview.

“He needs to be in high school,” Jill demands.

“You keep rescuing him and putting him in Jack’s bed. What are we ‘sposed ta do?” I ask.

“Make him go home.”

I turn to David. “You havta go home tonight, after pizza. And go to school tomorrow.”

“Can I go to class with you guys?”

“No,” everyone yells.

“Okay, I know when I’m not wanted,” he sulks.

The girls melt at his Irish guilt trip. “We love you, David.”

“Yeah, but I’m too young, right?”

They get up and push him out the door, each giving him a kiss. He beams, and then turns around and blows two kisses in our direction. What a ham. We all walk him to the T stop in Harvard Square, waiting until he goes through the turnstile. We return to Pinocchio’s and finish our pizza. It’s quite good, even by Sorrento’s standards. Everyone calls it ‘Noches.

Next: https://timatswim.com/5-blog-19-there-go-the-neighborhoods/