On Friday night, Joan and Trudie are due in Cambridge on a chartered bus bringing Smith girls to Harvard for the football weekend. I convince Jill and the other four girls in our third floor posse to welcome the Smithies en masse. All seven of us are at the bus terminal south of Harvard Square. All the girls turn down date offers to keep our group together. When confronted by rejected suitors, we explain that we had planned a full slate of activities for the weekend to entertain our dates from Smith. The Mower girls are helping us by putting up Joan and Trudie in their rooms. We explain it’s all a part of welcoming Radcliffe co-eds to Harvard. We invite everyone to the spirit concert in the boiler room and encourage the rejected boys to act less boorish around the girls, citing the previous weekend’s three day drinking bout. Our efforts elicit little empathy from our corridor mates who are mostly dateless for the weekend. Jack promises a keg for the boiler room show. Their spirits brighten up.
Taking the short walk to ‘Noch’s’ for pizza, the Smithies feel welcome. Soon it is a big hen-house gab-fest. David comes along with us. We three males bond on the inanity of the conversation. Trudie joins us, asking me if Jack and I are communicating better. Since I failed to relate the advice she had given me on the phone, the answer is obviously not.
Turning to David, she asks, “How’s it going, being a secret student at Harvard?”
His eyes light up. “I feel so entitled now,” David crows.
“Maybe all three of you need to examine that sense of entitlement,” she suggests. “It may cause problems between you when each one makes decisions that affects the others.”
“We’s perfect roommates,” David declares. “It’s girls that gots ta talk ‘bout ever’thing.”
“Is that how you also feel?” she turns to us.
“I see your point,” I admit. “David likes that we never complain. Probably he thinks he never causes any problems. Guys are better at putting up with situations than trying to fix them.”
“Lots of stereotyping here,” Jack adds.
The hen-house conversation has stopped, as everyone else is listening to Trudie’s counseling.
“Tim says you really are learning useful strategies in your Psych course,” Jill compliments Trudie.
“They just tell us everything is a negotiation, even passive resistance is a form of intercourse.”
“I know all s‘bout intercourse,” David jumps up.
“Not that kind of intercourse,” Jack corrects him. “Communication, not sexual intercourse.”
“I does my intercoursing with my big one,” David grabs his crotch.
Paper, plastic utensils, and even pieces of pizza come flying across the table at all three of us boys. Trudie laughs at making her point about us.
“Maybe you can concentrate on the ‘Cliffies, instead of us boys. They have to negotiate dealing with entitled males everyday as the first co-eds living in Harvard Yard. Smith seems to be way ahead of Harvard on dealing with tricky social situations,” I suggest to our budding psychologist.
“Yeah,” Jill jumps in. “I’m the first female intern at the Lampoon. On my first day this lech grabbed my ass.”
“I rescued her,” David crows. “That fat-ass lech had to leave for the day.”
“Yeah. We almost all got fired from the commotion,” Jill responds.
“Ya didn’t like my standing up fer ya?” David is distressed.
“I have to fight my own battles, honey,” she answers.
“Oh, honey,” I mock him. “Come rescue me.”
Everyone laughs. We go back to scarfing pizza. All teenagers love pizza. As ‘Gator would say, ‘I loves a girl that don’t give a hoot ‘bout how much she eats.’
We escort all 7 girls back to the Yard, so they can get the Smithies settled. We advise them to dress down for the Rat, as it is not an upscale night club.
“It’s really called The Rat?” Joan asks.
“Actually it’s The Rathsheller, but you’ll see that the Rat is a better description, especially for the Townies that are regulars,” I explain, pointing to David as a Townie representative.
“You girls will be a big hit,” David claims. “But best to stay together. Those assholes are like vultures, circling to pick off the weakest members of the herd.”
“Don’t refer to us as a ‘herd,’” Jill upbraids him.
“Sorry. How about a pack of bimbos?” More objects are thrown.
Taking the T to Kenmore Square, lowers everyone’s expectations. The Red Sox are in the playoffs that night. It’s a real cattle car. David has his white knight hat on and protects the ‘herd’ from notorious T gropers. The excitement has begun.
“How many girls ya need to protect ya?” our ‘friend’ Howard from BU mocks us as we approached the Rat’s front entrance.
“If’n y’alls the example of how tough BU students are, then yer gonna git yer asses kicked in football this weekend.”
“Oh, so yer not locals,” he leer at us. “The townies betta not know youse from Harvahd.”
“That why yer not going in?” Jack mocks him.
Howard counts the seven co-eds we escort. “I think I’ll take my chances with youse.”
Again the doorman waves us in, due to the 7 co-eds we bring. Howard beams at not having to pay.
“Buy us a drink,” I order him. He just shrugs. Jack is already taking drink orders.
The Townies are glad to see us back and start circling, unsure how to break into our clique of 7 girls. Once they notice Minehan, they have their excuse.
“You ain’t allowed in here, Minehan,” last week’s perv threatens to be his personal bouncer.
“That’s only ‘cause I beat you down last time ya tried to have me ‘86’d.”
“I know yer only 17,” he argues.
I remembered his name is Dickie. “Listen Dick, do I gots ta buy ya another beer. Minehan is our pet Townie.”
“He ain’t no Southie or Townie. He’s just some suburban rebel with no friends.”
“He’s our friend,” the girls defend their pet. “He stopped the gropers on the T.”
“Welcome to Beantown, ladies. And how about that beer?” he turns to me.
I sling my arm around his neck and lead him to the bar. His cohort watches us for a second, and then moves in on our harem. I laugh as David does his best to deflect their come-on lines. The girls have been here before and smoothly handle the Townies. David ends up protecting the Smithies who are experiencing the group hustle for the first time. Luckily Howard and Jack return with beer for everyone.
“Ya don’t like Minehan?” I ask Dickie.
“He’s just a pest. That’s just what ya do, swat the pest.”
“The girls have adopted him. He’s bringing his band to the dorm tomorrow. Y’all should come see ‘em. Our band’s playing too.”
“I knew it was fishy yer always with college girls. Ya have a band?”
“Come see us tomorrow at 11 am. We’re having a keg party in the basement of Mower at Harvard before the football game.”
“I dunno. Eleven’s so early.”
“Okay, slick. Ya don’t need ta twist my arm.”
We return to the scrum. Several more rounds of beer keep the mood light. The girls have been warned to use the bathroom in pairs. The Rat bathrooms are not up to gas station standards. Everyone agrees to hold it. Once the band starts playing it doesn’t take long for the girls to be up front, cheering and waving their arms like Baptists in a revival tent. The second band is the same one from the previous weekend. I expect them to keep David off their stage. They know our whole group makes their show more exciting and invite him up for a reprise of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk That Way.’ David takes advantage of being at the mic and invites everyone to his band’s debut at Mower House in Harvard Yard the next morning.
“I go to Harvard now,” he announces. Everyone booes. He stands their grinning. Apparently he doesn’t care what the reaction is, as long as it was all about him.
We leave by eleven o’clock in order to catch the T back to Cambridge. Mower House is rowdy with all the boys drinking on the corridors and puking or passed out in the bushes outside. We hurry to the third floor and settle into 3D to review the night’s festivities. David reminds us that we have to order a keg for the boiler room show in the morning. Mount Auburn Liquors stays open late for the college crowd. They show us how to tap a keg. My barn party expertise never covered kegs. We roll it through Harvard Square, attracting a certain bar-fly following. The guard at the Yard stops them in their tracks, waving us through with a wink.
“Great, Mick. How’s by you’s?”
He just waves us by. We go back to the liquor store for ice to keep the beer cold. The clerk sells us plastic cups. Somehow he’s heard about the morning gig at Mower. Word is getting around. He says to call them if we need more beer. We worry that 15 gallons of beer isn’t enough. My quick math says that’s 150 12 ounce cups. Once we’re set, we send David back to Waltham.
“You sure the Neighborhoods are ready to perform in public?” I ask.
“No worries. I’m always ready to play. If they can’t keep up, I’ll kick ‘em outta the neighborhoods.”
“You understand that it takes more than one person to have a band.”
“If they suck, you guys can take over.”
“It’s supposed to be a battle of the bands, not a rescue of the teenage neighbor hoods.”
He just laughs at how ingenious the name of his band is.
We go upstairs to 3D but everyone is asleep. Joan and Trudie notice us and come out to give us goodnight kisses. They even send David home with a kiss.
“He’s pretty cute,” they agree.
“Don’t be jealous. We came to be with you two.”
“Is it okay, staying with the ‘Cliffies?” Jack asks.
“They’re great. We wish we had co-ed dorms.”
“Better let some boys into Smith.”
“That’ll never happen. Our parents want us locked away from boys.”
“That mean you wanna spend the night in our room? Minehan’s gone, at least for a few hours,” I ask.
They laugh and shake their heads. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” the ever forthright Trudie decides. Joan looks conflicted. Seems like we aren’t the only ones making decisions for each other.
Morning of the great debut of two teen bands, the Harvard Standing Band and The Neighborhoods, has all of us up early. Jack worries that with so much promotion, we’ll be overwhelmed with fans demanding beer. Minehan arrives with his ragtag crew of neighbor kids. They are overawed at being in Harvard Yard – until they see the boiler room. I’m concerned that neither band will live up to the hype.
“Where are your instruments?” I ask David.
“Oh, can’t we just use yours?”
All I can think is this is turning into some weird band camp for rock rejects.
“Usually in a battle of the bands, both bands are set up and they alternate playing songs. Then the crowd votes each time they’ve both played.”
“We’ll just jump up and use what’s already set up. Ain’t no room for two set-ups down in the bowels. Where’s the fans gonna be?”
I had not expected many fans. David anticipates a stadium crowd for his debut. We finally decide to set up on the courtyard in front of Mower. We run around collecting extension cords which we feed out the dorm windows. I know not to do a sound check in order to keep the authorities unaware that we are putting on an unauthorized show. We tune the guitars in the boiler room, to eliminate that annoying intro to our sets. I’m so worried that it’s becoming a disaster that Jace appears, signing that he’ll help the Waltham kids keep their sound together. After attempting to connect with the Neighborhoods, he finds that only the bassist Jim is receptive to his spiritual presence. I agree to help, having shown Hippie how to keep it together when he was learning the bass. Confidence is everything. David needs no help there. His guitar playing will be all Minehan. Their drummer, Mike, is a stocky jock-type. He’ll have to thrash along by himself.
Jack is concentrating on the Standing Band’s set list. His purchase of a MOOG has immersed him into self-conscious, dreary dirges. We aren’t doing any False Gods songs. That’s the old band, he states. We want to be new, but his moody songs sound tired and old. I can care less; Jace is here and that always lifts my spirits. Jill is all nerves, having never played in public. I laugh that I have become the bass expert. I try to remember how Hippie became so proficient. I guess that his choir experience was the foundation of playing from the heart. The twins are also choir girls.
“Did you ever sing in church?” I ask her and Jim, the Neighborhood’s bassist.
“All my life,” Jill answers.
Jim glances at David to make sure he isn’t listening and nods stealthily. Apparently church and rock aren’t compatible in Waltham. Jace grins, already in touch with Jim’s heart. Jill passed that test long ago.
“Do you sing from the hymnal or just let the song ring out from yer heart?”
“Just to learn the words,” Jill says. “After that the song is in my head.”
“Well, let the music come from your heart. Learn to hear yourself. When you go off-key, shut down the strings until you can get back on-key. Let your ears be your monitor. It’s a feedback loop.”
They both look confused at first, then nod they understand.
“Watch me. I’ll have my guitar unplugged but still be strumming the notes. Just follow me.”
They smile knowing they could stay in tune. Jace is already helping them get the fingering down. Whenever he moves their fingers, they smile from his touch.
Minehan decides they will play covers, until the end, when he plans to do the song about The Rat. I laugh that he loves exposing our deviant sexuality on stage. I wonder if Jack and I can fag off to the gloomy MOOG songs. I decide we’ll not do the monkeyshines song as we want to be taken seriously by the college crowd. Jace signs that I better cheer up and stop bossing everyone around, if we want the show to be fun.
Once we drag the beer keg out onto the lawn, a line forms. We stumble at installing the tap, until an upperclassman shows us how. With the beer flowing, we continue to set up mics and amps. Mike, the drummer, starts playing rolls and different beats. Our drummer suddenly gets stage fright, saying he can’t compete with Mike, who seems so proficient.
“It’s not an individual competition,” I tell him. “It’s how the band comes together and stays on beat. That’s your job. All you need to do is keep the bass drum steady and use the snare and high hat to set the tempo. Don’t try to sound fancy. There’s a reason you’re in the back. We’re the stars, not you.”
We laugh. He stops competing with Mike.
Once people start coming back for seconds at the keg, I know it’s time to start. I turn on the mike. It squeals from feedback. Jack quickly adjusts the levels. I turn my SG down, so I can talk.
“We tried out fer the Harvard Marching Band but got rejected. They don’t play rock at Harvard. Well, we’re about ta change that. We got two bands for y’all. We call this the Hahvahd Yahd Battle of the Bands.”
There are more laughs than cheers. Our 3D girls politely clap. Jill smiles at them.
“Last year we played at Iowa State’s football games as the fight section. So, today’s the game with BU. Stand up and salute for the National Anthem, Hendrix style.”
Half the crowd is already sitting down, expecting some lame hippie folk music concert. Most of them refuse to stand until those around them are standing and blocking their view. I rip into Jimi’s electric psychedelic riffs.
Jack sings the lyrics, with David yodeling in a Hendrix fashion. He can’t stop himself from playing with us.
“Who’s winning the football game today? Harvard?” I yell to a less than thunderous response.
“BU?” I question. There’s a section of BU fans who must’ve been at The Rat when we promoted the show. They were more enthusiastic.
“Who’s going to the game?” Silence. It’s football’s nadir before the Reagan Revolution.
“Well, this battle pits Harvard vs Boston, so maybe that’s as important as football. And, David you have to remember which band yer in. Jist ‘cause ya take classes here don’t mean ya ain’t no Townie.”
“Well, it’s The Neighborhoods turn, then,” he responds, grabbing my guitar. We all switch places.
“This classic is fer all the Radcliffe girls who love Aerosmith,” as he plays the leads to “Walk This Way.” The 3D girls including the Smithies start their strut and sashay in front of us. The Harvard boys cheer and press forward. The folkies still sitting on the grass are trampled.
David is incredible, combining both Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The drumming is on beat. Jim is hesitant and I get him to hold down his strings until David pauses between verses. Jim knows the basic riff and he solos for 5 seconds. The girls have everyone moving and waving their hands.
At the end, Jack jumps in to ‘Dream on,’ on the MOOG. I grab the mic from David. He steps back, waving his long stringy greasy hair. My bleached surfer cut had yet to grow out. He is wailing as I spit out the Tyler lyrics:
‘Half my life
Live and learn from fools
and From sages
You know it’s true, oh
All these feelings come back to you
Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away
Dream on Dream on Dream on Dream until your dreams come true Dream on…’
Songwriters: STEVEN TYLER
© BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC
The Harvard boys relate to learning from fools and sages. We have their attention.
David and I fight over which band goes next.
“Okay. Time to vote. Who likes the Hendrix Star Fucking Spangled Banner by Harvard?’
There were lots of cheers for the home team.
“Who likes the Townies’ Aerosmith ‘Walk This Way?” The cheers are less but more boisterous.
“Who likes it when we all did ‘Dream On.”
That was both more cheers and more boisterous yells.
“Well, that makes the winner, drum-roll please,” I ask Mike, “…. Both bands together.”
Everyone likes getting along.
I turn to David. “Let’s ask for favorites and we’ll all play together?”
“Cool,” he agrees having been on stage for all three songs.
“Now that it’s settled that we do best when Townies and Students get together, how about some requests to see how we do when we play what you want?”
The crowd is stumped. They aren’t used to populist concerts. Finally Jill yells from behind us, “I am Woman.”
“We know that,” I joke
“Hear me roar,” she shouts.
There’s a big roar, mostly from the folkie crowd now at to the back.
“Get up on the mic. You’re singing, not me.”
“There have been questions,” she harangues me.
“It’s true,” David confirms.
“Just sing the song,” I complain.
“Fag,” someone cries out.
“Go have another beer,” I answer.
Jill is at the mic. The folkies press forward and join the 3D girls in front. The naysayers leave to refill their beers, leaving room for the faithful to move forward
Jill’s voice wavers at first but gathers confidence as people strain to hear her.
‘I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
[Chorus:] Oh yes I am wise But it’s wisdom born of pain Yes, I’ve paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to, I can do anything I am strong (strong) I am invincible (invincible) I am woman
You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul
Songwriters: HELEN REDDY, RAY BURTON
© Universal Music Publishing Group
As we discuss what song to do next, the campus police arrive. They approach the mic, to scattered jeers. At least the crowd wants us to continue.
“The Girls of Mower,” Jill steps up. “Do we need a permit to sing in the Yard?”
“Well, you need a permit to sell beer,” he responds.
“It’s free. We’re getting everyone ready for the football game today.”
He consults his clipboard.
“Well, you can’t play here, especially if alcohol’s involved.”
“Everyone’s 18,” I assert. “We’re legal to drink.”
“Well, not outside,” he rules.
Taking the mic, he announces, “Everyone needs to disperse. Pour out your drinks and go get ready for the game.”
No one boo’s and a lot of beer waters the lawn. The BU/Rat crowd starts chanting, “BU, BU, Terriers”
“Bow Wow Wow, you little doggies, Now git along,” the Campus Policeman chants into the mic. Everyone laughs.
We take all the equipment back to the boiler room. It seems so small after playing out in the open. The keg has about a quarter left. David soon recharges his onstage high with a drunken act that has him pigeon-holing anyone in his vicinity about how great he was. No one disputes his drunken claims. Jim, the bassist, wants my opinion on his performance.
“Did anyone notice any of your mistakes?”
“Naw. They was having too much fun to be critical.”
“Then I give you an A+.”
“I made a lot of mistakes.”
“Nobody noticed, so you covered yourself. Just accept that no one listens to the bassist. No glory there.”
“What if I play chords?”
“You wanna be a guitarist.”
“Like Minehan? No way. He’s an asshole.”
“All guitarists want to be rock stars, my definition of an asshole.”
We laugh. Jace looks sad.
“Why do I feel so sad suddenly. Our gig went great until the cops came,” Jim states.
“No better way to end, with the fans wanting more.”
“Just, suddenly I felt so sad, as if I died.”
The boy is sensitive. I know he’s feeling Jace.
“Okay. I’m going to tell you a secret. It’s what made our old band so great. We even played with Skynyrd.”
“Cool.” He’s receptive.
“Watch me closely, so you know it’s not me that does this. Our band spirit is going to touch you. It’s not a trick, but if it makes you feel good, trust it and let him into your heart. Once there, he will help you play from the heart.”
“Do I need to say abracadabra or something?”
“Just tell me what you feel.”
“It feels good.”
He laughs. “Thanks, man.”
“You’ll also be able to tell whether you can trust others. Go by what your heart tells you.”
“I trust you,” he says.
“I know. We both have Casper in our hearts.
“Can I tell David?”
“Well, he’s a force unto himself. So far, he’s not been receptive. You have Casper now. Let Casper tell you when David’s more receptive. You’ll see a glow when he’s trusting.”
“Do I have to touch him?”
“Naw, but when he feels touched, he may think you’re doing it, which ya kinda are.”
“Then it is kinda gay, right?”
“More like how we were when we were little and needed to be protected from trusting the wrong people.”
“So Casper protects me from the wrong people.”
“It’s your heart that will know who to trust and who not to.”
“David says you’re gay but he trusts you. I guess I do too.”
Thanks, Minehan, you shit-head.
“That’s cool. We find it hard in Boston. Not many people are naturally trusting.”
“My folks trust me pretty much. I tell them everything. They’re here. Wanna meet ’em?”
The boy is odd. I’m about to shine him on but my heart knows it’s okay. We share the same trust.
“Mom, Dad, This is Tim. David stays with him and his roommate here at Harvard.”
I offer my hand. Where is Jack-Off to handle the charm offensive?
“Your show was great, Jim. You learned to play bass so quickly.”
“Tim helped me. I made lots of mistakes but he showed me how to make them less noticeable.”
“The whole band sounded great. How did you blend both bands so well?” Jim’s mom asked me.
“It was supposed to be a competition, but Minehan can’t stand not being on stage. We just let it come together so he could be the star.”
“I love that you have a girl in the band. I thought Harvard was all-male,” his mom notes.
“It’s an experiment in co-education. We have Radcliffe girls living in our dorm. They’re our best friends. The guys study all week and drink all weekend. It’s pathetic.”
The parent unit seems taken aback that we’re having a normal conversation. Jim beams.
“And David is going to Harvard now? He’s been dropping out ever since we’ve known him.”
“His high school is giving him credit for the classes he takes here. I don’t think his parents have gotten the tuition bill yet.”
“Well, they can afford it. Better than being a high school dropout.” Jim’s Dad looks at his son like all parents do when they’re making a point.
“Yes, Dad. Maybe I’ll go to Harvard next year.”
“How much is the tuition?” Dad asks.
“$6000, including room and board,” I know the score from Dad’s constant griping about it costing him so much.
“We’ll make money with the band, Dad. I’ll pay my way.
I laugh. “Pursuing rock n roll to pay for college. That’s a new one.”
I go looking for Jack. He’s showing off his MOOG to mostly girls. They are suddenly interested in being in a band. Hear them roar.
Joan and Trudie have been watching me and come over once I stop the socializing.
“Sorry. I’m ignoring you. How’d you like the show?”
“Interesting. Nothing less than we expected. It was more fun when you sang just for us last weekend. No swinging through the trees?”
“The cops stopped us before we thought about doing that.” I put an arm around each girl.
“Those ‘Cliffies are in love with you and Jack. They worry you’re so caught up in everything that you can’t see how they feel.”
“Do you feel that way?”
“I think we’re special because you ask my advice and actually listen,” Trudie is direct as usual.
“I hope Jack likes me,” Joan states her preference.
“I’m not charming enough?” I joke.
“Isn’t friends enough?”
“Yup. Friends it is.”
“Do you really want us to go to the football game?”
“You forget. I’s from I-o-way. Football’s in my blood.”
“I would think that you’d hate football players.
“My best friend’s on the Iowa State team. He was high school captain last year. We had a fight the first day we met and were best friends ever after. I was even milkin’ cows at his family farm every mornin’ and night.”
“Ew. Cow manure.”
“We just calls it cowshit.”
“Tim,” they both cry.
“Naw, just part o’ farmin.’”
“You are so cute when you act country.”
I sing them the John Denver song, ‘Country Boy.’
Jack comes in on the MOOG. We laugh at each other.
“The girls told us that you sleep together,” Trudie is as direct as Angie.
“Cause Minehan always sleeps over. He stinks.”
“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with being gay, Tim. ‘Long as ya don’t hate girls. We know you like us.”
“Every girlfriend I’ve had know’d I have boyfriends. They know’d I liked ‘em as well,” I confess, both of us falling into country speech.
They look at each other and shrug. A least I’ve told the truth. Best to let them deal with their own feelings. I wonder if I should tell Jill. From what Trudie said all the 3D girls wonder how gay we are.
“Let’s talk about this with Jack when there’s less going on. I mean to make you like football now. Making you like gay guys is more serious.”
It’s time for football. Fueled by beer on empty stomachs, no one feels any pain as we cross the Charles to Harvard Stadium, a cement edifice that looks like a 19th century Greek temple from the outside. It is minuscule compared to Iowa State’s modern stadium with about a third the capacity. Welcome to the Ivy League.
As we pass through the parking area, filled with alumni ‘tailgaters,’ we notice that Campus Police are not enforcing the open container laws. Only rowdy students are shut down.
“It’s because the alumni contribute so much money,” Jack explains. I’m positive he knows exactly what he’s saying is true, privileged son of privileged families.
“I’m having so much fun here,” I gush to him and give him a quick hug. He beams. Any scorn about the entitled rich makes me feel like Dad, grumbling about the rich while he shops on Rodeo Drive. Life has changed around me. I need to make sure my values and scruples haven’t changed as well. I can still taste the remnants of our Ritz dinner from Monday night. Surrounded by seven girls we make a scene walking into the student section in the end zone. Do they think old alums can out cheer drunken students? It isn’t just the marching band that is out of touch. At least we’re seated by the band. Several members come over and congratulate us on our show and for making the Standing Band count. They want to join.
“We’re trying to get the Director to let us form a spirit section.” they say.
“What, clarinets and trombones?”
They look disappointed that we disparage their particular instruments.
“Sorry,” Jack rushes in with better manners. “We can be as judgmental as the Director. We like anyone who plays music.”
“Yeah, sorry. Let us know if we can join the spirit squad. Jack’s got a MOOG.”
“Can we come try it out?”
“Sure. Come by Mower any evening. We practice in the boiler room.”
Not really. It’s hot next to the boiler.
As the game starts, I realize that the girls are totally clueless about football. I organize them into a mini-cheer squad. We tell them when to cheer for the offense and when for the defense. The kickoff has special cheers as well. They never know when and how they should cheer. Soon one of the male Harvard cheerleader comes up into the stands, asking if the girls will join them on the sidelines. We say they need Jack and me to tell them how to cheer.
“We can do that,” the boy sneers at us lowly freshman.
“Then we refuse. We all came together. You don’t seem much fun,” Jill remonstrates. We laugh.
“Okay. Okay. The boys can come too.”
The game has not been going well for Harvard. The local BU boys are fired up to beat their snobby Cambridge rivals. The Crimson has not taken the game seriously as it doesn’t count for the Ivy League Championship. BU was leading 14-0 after the first quarter. The cheerleaders spread the girls along the sidelines. They pretty much just stand there, not getting instructions on what to do. It is time to take charge.
I gathered the girls around me. “We need to stir up the crowd,” I tell them. We create a short skit where we accuse our fans in the stands of being BU fans, calling them all ‘Little Boston Terriers,” the BU mascot. The girls will pretend to be dogs, getting down on all fours and yipping and yapping around me. Three Harvard cheerleaders will run up dressed as John Harvard and chase the little terriers behind me. Then the girls back me up with ‘Go Harvard’ cheers, repeated until the entire section is cheering. It’s corny. Apparently Harvard fans take themselves too seriously to cheer. I get a megaphone and we run the skit several times in front of different sections. Once the entire Harvard side of the stadium has learned to cheer, I chase the girls who are back on their hands and knees, barking like Boston Terriers back and forth until the stands are all cheering ‘Go Harvard, Go Harvard’ in unison. The team perks up and Harvard leads 21-14 at the half. The girls and I are pretty worn out. The beer has worn off. We go into the stands and many older (really old) alumni re-energize us from their hidden flasks. We are re-charged and ready for the second half. The old alums are surprised to learn that the girls are living in Harvard Yard and attending Harvard classes. Co-education at Harvard needs a better PR campaign. The alums praise the girls’ spirit, dispelling their reluctant support for female admissions. They look at us and remark that Harvard freshmen have always been crazy.
Back on the sidelines, we devise a new skit where the Harvard male cheerleaders are on their hands and knees barking and chased by the girls. It gets lots of applause and laughs. The team sails to a 37-14 victory. Jack comes running up.
“We got an invite to Procellian tonight,” he’s in snob heaven.
“We’re going to Fox. What’s wrong with you.”
“Porcellian, man. It’s the best.”
“What. We accepted Fox but then you go around shopping for a better offer?”
“It is better.”
“So you can kiss ass all night and think those assholes like us.”
“You always ruin everything. Can’t you at least try to make Harvard work for me.”
“You sound like your idiot cousins. You think I wasn’t trying out here on the football field. Were you even watching?”
“Why? You were just seeking attention as always.”
I shake my head. Jack storms off. The girls are in shock. They haven’t seen us fight before. Trudie has been listening. Joan runs off to be with Jack.
“Sounds like what we spoke about on the phone – making decisions for each other.”
I nod. “What do you want to do?”
“I don’t care. This has been the greatest weekend of my life. I was shocked when you had us embarrass ourselves as whiny puppy dogs. But then you made the boys do the same thing. It was great.”
She gives me a big kiss. My ego balloon inflates. Though I realize she now sees me for the control freak I become when we perform. That is the other me.
Jill runs up. “What’s up with Jack? He stormed off with Joan running after him.”
“He wants to go to Porcellian instead of Fox tonight.”
“Wow. So we have choices. What’s the problem?”
I glance at Trudie. “What do you and the other girls want to do?” Trudie smiles. I’m learning.
“Let’s just keep the party rolling. ‘Noch’s?”
“Pizza solves all problems. Let’s catch up with Jack.”
We found him at Mower, playing his MOOG.
“We’re going for pizza,” I tell him. “You wanna go?”
Joan runs over, looking worried.
“Yeah. I was thinking that next game I can play the MOOG up in the announcer’s booth. We can put music to your skits.”
He smiles at me. Good manners always gets you what you want. Thanks, Mummy.