THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOODS
Monday morning came around too soon. We both groaned at six when it was time to get up, eat at commons, and head out for our eight o’clock class. No one ever adequately explains why all freshman year classes start so early. All the studies agree that teenagers are mindless zombies until at least ten am. The only answer is that freshman classes are all bull shit and in no way teach anything deemed indispensable for the rest of your life. They call them prerequisites for higher learning. The truth is any decent high school has already covered the material. If you haven’t got it by the age of 18, you’ll really never understand. Go into teaching. You may learn something.
Luckily Jack and I had used Friday night to prepare our lessons for Monday. Subsequent bacchanal was the reward for getting our homework done. Our dorm mates who had spent the entire weekend at the bottom of a beer cup, or worse, a vodka bottle, were unprepared and fair game for the Teaching Assistants to pick on as examples of how stupid we all were. Somehow neither Jack nor I were called on, despite being fully prepared. It was academic hazing. My dad’s tuition payment was supporting this system of faux scholarship. Once we realized that class was going to be a tutorial on how stupid our classmates were, we took Minehan’s advice and declared a skip day. We proceeded to the Lampoon offices and prepared to suffer intern hell.
Kurt Andersen was the boss. He knew the drill and tried to rise above the hazing. We quickly became indispensable to his every need. We went to the Coop and bought a French Press coffee maker. The staff had never experienced coffee that wasn’t instant (at home) or burned (at restaurants and coffee shops). Jack’s training included grinding and pressing excellent brew. That Monday we even added two glazed donuts, from Dunkin’ Donuts (before they stopped caring how awful their donuts became). Kurt was pleased. We were again intern pets. By the time our day was over, he had us perusing proofs and running them to the printer. No one else dared give us menial tasks for fear of Kurt’s wrath.
“I thought freshmen had morning classes,” he quizzed us.
“It’s a skip day, David declared it,” Jack explained.
“Where is that kid, if it’s skip day?”
“The girls made him promise he’d go to class today, after pampering him all weekend.”
“The girls? What girls?”
“You don’t know? Mower has ‘Cliffies living on the third floor. It’s Harvard showing they are going co-ed without having to do anything.”
“How’s that going?”
“That sounds like an interesting story. Any ideas?”
“Sure,” Jack was Johnny-on-the-spot. “Why not let one of them intern here and we’ll write up the sexual harassment. We can even do pictures.”
“You want to expose the Lampoon?”
“Lampooning the Lampoon sounds about right,” I joked.
“Well, bring in your victim. As long as she knows it’s a story.”
“And ruin her response to all the male chauvinism?”
“You need to go over the code of ethics we use to cover up harassment, sexual or otherwise.”
“Sounds like another story.”
“Just take one thing at a time. And, that other kid. Is he crazy like you two? At least he didn’t skip class today.”
“That remains to be seen.”
We rushed back to Mower and ran up to the third floor. We had worked all day at the Lampoon. The girls were gathered at 3D ready to go to commons for dinner.
“Forget a repast of mystery meat, we’re taking everyone out to eat and celebrate,” Jack grandly announced.
“Sounds like you enjoyed your first intern day at the Lampoon,” Jill mocked us.
“Well, get ready for your interview. They want to see you tomorrow. I hate to think what they have planned for the first woman staff member,” I spilled the beans.
All the girls whooped and hollered. Feminism making strides. I felt so guilty in my complicity – failure to support the white male overseers. Jill was white, blonde and petite. She’d fit right in. Our second guilt was not telling her she would be the subject of a Lampoon lampoon.
Jack called Mummy for a recommendation of an appropriate restaurant to celebrate the girls’ breakthrough. She naturally recommended the Ritz on Boston’s Public Gardens. I insisted we take the T, to Jack’s dismay. He felt only a limo arrival would make our Boston debut. I reminded him that all of us had already debuted, at the Rat. He just scoffed at that idea. Instead of changing trains in downtown Boston we got off at Park Street Station and walked through Boston Common and The Public Gardens. It was a warm evening with the sun setting earlier than at our arrival in September. We were pretty cocky, dining at the Ritz, and celebrating for Jill, as well as ourselves, of course. Jack couldn’t help himself and soon we were all singing ‘Putting on the Ritz.”
We waltzed up the front stairs. Without a reservation, we had to wait in the bar. Drinking cocktails as we sat in the window overlooking the Gardens, it looked like we had arrived. After grilling us on our ID’s, the waiter quickly returned.
“Who’s Jill?” he asked, bringing out a corsage of white orchid. She beamed. Mummy strikes again.
” Courtesy of Mrs. Stone,” he announced. Jack blushed. All the girls jumped up and kissed him. I pinned the corsage to Jill’s blouse.
“Is this how he lives in New York?” Jill whispered.
“Oh, worse. We have to travel by limo, even to the Bronx,” I confided.
“Not always,” I quoted the lyrics:
‘Have you seen the well to do
Up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air’
“Jack isn’t a snob,” she insisted.
“I make him slum in New York. We stay in the Bowery in a roach infested hotel, the Chelsea. We need to escape from his obnoxious cousins who live at Jack’s parents’ flat on Central Park West.”
“No wonder you love these old musical tunes. You live the life.”
“I’m a country boy. When my uncle tried to park his old station wagon at the Dakota, the doorman wouldn’t let him. They had a big argument about it and he refused to tip the doorman. Jack had to sneak back and do it.”
“Maybe I trust you more because you are so country, Tim,” Jill hugged me. Now I blushed.
“You boys are so cute. You both blush at nothing.”
I hoped it was nothing. We were pushing the line between flirting and deceiving them about our sexuality. I decided it was best to be honest about her internship.
“Let’s go talk elsewhere,” I needed to get her alone to tell her the truth.
She was the one blushing now.
“We’re going to powder our noses,” I announced. The other girls giggled. Jill was really red-faced now.
We walked up from the bar and pretended to be window shopping at the fancy stores inside the Ritz.
“You need to know the ground rules for your internship. We suggested they take you on and that Jack and I write up how the Lampoon accepts its first female intern. They plan on putting you through intern hell, even if the other staff members aren’t that chauvinistic.”
“Worse that they treat you?”
“I know it’s unfair. We were interns this summer and learned to kiss the boss’s ass, so no one else can touch us.”
“No, Jack bought Kurt, the Editor, a French Press. We take him donuts with his perfect morning coffee. Jack just knows these things.”
“Is this a joke? Will they take me on or are you just using me to show up male prejudice?”
“No way. But you’ve got to take it as well as stand up to the blatant sexism. We’re writing it up, but it will be your story. You can’t let on you know.”
“I don’t know, Tim. Is it worth it. We’re pioneers enough just living in a dorm with teenage boys.”
“Com’n, this is showing Harvard that they have to treat you equally, even private clubs and organizations.”
“You make me out to be some Rosa Parks type.”
I told her the story of how Jack and I eliminated de facto segregation at Gables High so Grant could be in our play.
“It’s not as hard to do when you know you’re right,” I encouraged her. “We’ll be there as interns too. You’re not alone.”
“I’m moving up my bet on when they kick you out.”
“I’d bet, too, if it weren’t no conflict of interest,” I joked.
“I have to tell them that someone initiated a kiss,” she beamed. I blushed again. “You are so innocent and yet evil at the same time,” she deduced.
We laughed and returned to the bar. Apparently Mummy’s name had moved us up on the reservations list. Everyone else had gone upstairs to the dining room. Soon all seven of us were seated at a round table. From the third floor, we looked out on an even wider view of the Public Gardens. The ornate room with twenty-foot ceilings and fancy columns was just grand. The maitre d’ explained that Mrs. Stone had taken care of the bill and hoped we’d enjoy whatever caught our fancy for dinner, no expense spared.
“Here’s to Mummy,” I toasted. Jack was somewhat mortified and continued to blush.
“What is going on with you boys,” Trixie, Jill’s roommate, asked.
“Jack no longer calls her Mummy, but since they adopted me, I can still call her that.”
Everyone laughed. Jack blushed even pinker, then turned bright red when each girl hugged and kissed him.
“We’re having a totally delightful time,” Trixie announced.
Jack and I couldn’t help ourselves from singing the Cole Porter commercial for De Soto:
The other diners appreciated our a Cappella impromptu performance and we got a hand. Jack and I both stood up and bowed. Now the girls were blushing. Someone took a photo. I almost regretted we weren’t in New York where we’d be in the Post the next day. Maybe we were too big for Boston.
The meal went splendidly. Jack helped the girls with menu suggestions. I didn’t see the bill that Jack signed, but later he told me it was more than $200. The girls would have died to know. We walked slowly back to the T station through the Gardens and Common, trying to settle down our stuffed tummies. All seven of us were strolling hand-in-hand., weaving around passersby as if we were drunk, which was slightly true.
“My mother told me about dinner and dancing under the stars at the Ritz while she was at Wellesley in the thirties. She’ll be so happy to hear about tonight.”
“Did someone say dancing?” I perked up. “How about the Rat?”
No one else wanted to ruin our perfect evening. Jill just winked at me. I thought about how I was going to tell Flo about a possible new girlfriend. We hadn’t talked in ages. I knew that was wrong, but the evening let me put off any repentance. I had gone to mass, at least.
“What’s up? You seem a million miles away,” Jill put her arm around my waist.
“Just the meal, I guess,” I didn’t want to spoil the mood.
“I know you better than that.”
“Okay, but don’t get mad. It’s so nice with y’all. It made me think about my girlfriend in Miami. I haven’t seen her in ages.”
“Hmm, what made you think about her?’
I put my arm around her waist. “I guess we’re getting to know each and it seems special.”
That answered her concerns. Jack was teaching me manners. I didn’t have to say anything else.
We said goodnight at the stairs leading to the third floor. We all had homework to do, even though dinner had taken four hours and it was after ten. Our plans were disrupted when we found Minehan waiting for us in our dorm room.
“What’s up butt fucks?” he greeted us.
“Whats up yours,” I rejoined.
We all laughed.
“We havta study, sonny. Why are you here?”
“I went home and started my band like you said. We’re called The Neighbor Hoods.”
“Good name. Did you go to school like you promised the girls?”
“Of course. How do you think I found friends to join my band?”
“So why are you here instead of making rock n roll history?”
“They all have curfews. Did Kurt ask about me at the Lampoon.”
“Yeah, we told him you were in school. He hired Jill to replace you.”
He looked like he was about to cry.
“No way,” Jack admitted. “But she’s an intern too. She starts tomorrow. You, too.”
“Cool. I wanna go to class too,” he quickly recovered.
“What about high school?”
“They’ll never know. I can show them the papers I write and tests I take to prove I’m now in college.”
“He can come with me tomorrow,” Jack took David’s side. “You and Jill can be at the Lampoon all day. We’ll come in the afternoon and you can do the assignments from my notes.”
“It’s all settled,” Minehan crowed, jumping into Jack’s bed.
I needed advice from Trudie about our roommate issues. I decided to call her at Smith, it being two days since she gave me her number.
“Please, Mrs Whatever, I need to talk with Trudie.”
“What’s the emergency?” she was more reasonable. It was only 10:20.
“Where are you?” she apparently was more receptive to some schools over others.
“Well, alright. But only a few minutes. These girls need their beauty sleep.”
“Not Trudie,” I argued.
She laughed, “Okay Prince Charming. Use the sugar on her, not me. And no nasty talk.”
“Hi, Tim,” Trudie came on the line. “You called. Is everything okay.”
“Delightful,” I almost started singing. “We went to dinner at the Ritz. But I have a dilemma. We have this high schooler who keeps turning up in our room. Now Jack’s taking him to class tomorrow.”
“Did you discuss it before letting him stay.”
“No, Jack knows I’ll let him make decisions for us.”
“That sounds problematic,” Trudie was as sensible as Angie.
“Thanks. But do you want to kick the boy out?”
“No, but he thinks he’s going to Harvard now, without being admitted and with a year of high school to go.”
“Our psych class talked about boys not developing judgment until they’re in their twenties.”
“You think I have no sense?”
“Not you. The high schooler. What’s his name?”
“Tell David not to let his fantasies overwhelm his reality.”
“Wow. They taught you that already?”
“Just to warn us about boys.”
“I haven’t learned one stitch since school started. Harvard’s for retards.”
“That’s not a nice word, Tim.”
“Oh. You’re right. I guess I’m saying Harvard’s for the socially inept.”
“Thanks, I guess I can go back to the room and figure out how to make David see some sense.”
“Good luck with that.”
“Wanna go out again this weekend? There’s football here, the home opener.”
“Can Joan come too?”
“Of course, I saw them exchanging tongue when we said goodbye.”
“Seems like both of you make decisions for each other.”
“We’ve been best friends forever.”
“You’re both cute, but I like you best.”
“Thanks, then it’s a date, for all four of us.”
“What does that mean?”
“You havta to get us a hotel room or something. And you have to be nice to us all weekend.”
“How about sharing with the girls upstairs. We’re in a co-ed dorm.”
“Are you making decisions for the girls now?”
“I’ll check. If they refuse, we’ll find somewhere decent for you two. Don’t worry.”
“Okay. Just don’t assume that everyone agrees with you. Sounds like Jack does the same thing you do – making assumptions.”
“Psych 1 rules.”
I walked back in. David was sound asleep, Jack was anxious that I get into bed with him. The evening’s testosterone was wearing off.
“I just want to hold you,” he whispered. “There’s no way we’re doing anything with a Townie in the room.”
“We got dates with Trudie and Joan this weekend.”
“Cool. But what about Minehan?”
“He can go out with Jill.”
“I thought you two were hitting it off.”
“Yeah, but we have to work together, study together, and sleep in the same dorm. Best not to move too fast.”
“Move it, I need to have you in here. Now.”
“Jeez, you guys,” Minehan mumbled. ” Now I can’t get to sleep,” .
Jill woke us up, laughing that David had stolen Jack’s bed. She didn’t seem concerned that the two of us slept together. We went to breakfast in commons where we discussed our plans for being full-time interns at the Lampoon while needing to attend classes. Jack volunteered to be the attentive note-taker for all lectures. David wanted to be seen as a good student, so he’d sit in class with Jack in my seat. Jill and I would only attend when we thought the lecture was going to be interesting or at least compulsory for passing the class. David asked us to edit his assignments as he thought his high school education left him far behind everyone else. I knew he’d soon learn otherwise. Freshman classes at Harvard were not groundbreaking. I asked Jill if it was okay for the Smith girls to stay with them on the football weekend. She agreed but seemed slightly perturbed to be putting up our dates. Dating in the 70s was a work in progress. After seeming affectionate the prior evening at the Ritz, she distanced herself with the conundrum of having to meet our weekend dates. We promised that it would be one big group with no one excluded and no exclusive couples. The intricacies of the sexual revolution. We also planned on how to deal with sexism at the Lampoon. The point of a lampoon was to make everyone look silly. All these plots and posturings were boring to David. He was more worried that he wasn’t dressed properly to masquerade as a Harvard student. We assured him that it was his behavior that was going to give him away. He promised not to drink during the day. He asked when he could bring his new band mates to a Harvard Sitting Band rehearsal. He hoped we’d help whip them into shape. Jace appeared with a wispy whip which he vigorous snapped. The sound reverberated throughout the commons but it was too early for sleepy students to notice. Jace was hopeful about spreading his heartfelt music theories. We finished our gruel and went off to class or internship.
Jill had worn a short short skirt with more makeup than usual, looking like a vixen waiting to be harassed. She sat with Kurt while I prepared his coffee and donuts. I should get a monkey suit to wear. He assured her that she was a full intern and would stay on regardless of how nasty the staff was to her. His intention was good – to make the workplace welcoming to women. The lampoon would straighten out any underlying or subconscious prejudices that kept women from being happy, productive staff members.
“Yeah, like little obedient intern slaves,” I noted as I placed coffee and donuts on his desk.
“Don’t listen to Tim. He loves being an intern,” Kurt cut me off. “He’ll make notes of the other staff reactions to your joining us. We’ll put together an exposé that highlights this transition and corrects any false notions of male dominance at the Lampoon.”
“Yeah, good intentions always create good results,” I snarked.
“You’re dismissed, Castle,” Kurt showed me the door.
“Good luck, Jill.”
My new assignment was to shadow Jill and record any misogynistic comments or actions. Not only was I at Kurt’s beck and call, now I had to be in the general staff area, available for all their whims. At least Jill couldn’t complain that I was receiving preferential treatment. We slaved together. Any crap job went my way, while the staffers drooled over Jill, making her do tasks that exposed T & A (If you don’t know what that is, look it up under British slang). Jack lent me a miniature spy camera to document lecherous behaviors. Kurt had decreed that on Jill’s first day only we three would know about the exposé. It would be a control to measure the actual level of sexual harassment. On subsequent days the staff will be told to pile it on, to test Jill’s resolve to overcome prejudice. Thus began Jill’s day 1 in hell.
The staff was surprised when Kurt introduced Jill as a new intern. They seemed welcoming, greeting her with terms of endearment. There was nothing overtly offensive, except they never called me ‘dear’ or ‘sweetheart.’ I counted five times these terms were used. I also took several pictures of staffers leering at her ass after she walked by. One over-weight lecher clumsily dropped a piece of paper, asking her to pick it up, sneaking a look down her blouse. It seemed like he was showing off for his buddies. Nobody was downright mean or offensive beyond an uncomfortable familiarity. Jill acted oblivious.
“Not very rewarding, is it?”
“They call it paying our dues. They test us to see if we break from the harassment.”
“I feel guilty skipping class.”
“Don’t worry. Jack is nothing if not meticulous in his note taking. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t type them up and provide us with copies. Maybe we can get him to do the assignments for us.”
“That’s Minehan’s plan.”
“You girls have made him your pet. Watch out. He’s still a Townie.”
“He seems more interested in you guys.”
“Only when he’s drunk – repressed homosexuality.”
“How come you let him take Jack’s bed?”
“Neither of us wants to sleep with him. He seldom showers.”
She avoided asking why we slept together. The girls had taken to coming in the room at all hours. Harvard didn’t put locks on the dorm room doors. We were all supposedly gentlemen. No need for privacy or security in Harvard Yard.
I had to prepare Kurt’s second cup of coffee. Jill ran off to Dunkin’ Donuts for me. She was a good intern.
By lunchtime, Jill had several invitations to join staff members at their exclusive dining clubs. She declined, explaining that the two of us had to check with the other two interns to catch up on what we had missed in the morning’s classes. The first negative remark directed at Jill concerned her need to know who buttered her bread.
We met Jack and David at commons and caught each other up. As expected, Jack had produced extensive notes on the morning lectures. He had made copies for us, including David, who had been there with him in body only, not paying attention to anything other than how no one noticed he was a high schooler. Fitting in was the main thrust of his high school education. All four of us returned to the Lampoon for an afternoon of mindless chores. David was better prepared than Jack for reality.
Jack and David were corralled by Kurt for his personal needs. I continued with Jill rushing around at the beck and call of the general staff. Soon I was being sent on outside errands while Jill remained behind. Someone had apparently noticed that I was acting as Jill’s shadow guard. She whispered that she would keep notes on obnoxious behavior.
I got back from a ‘Noch’s run to find the office in an uproar. Everyone was mesmerized by David screaming at the over-weight lecher, pushing and shoving someone twice his size and waving his hands as he yelled at the top of his formidable voice.
I rushed over, while everyone else watched, including Kurt from his office door.
I turned on the upperclassman. “What’s wrong with you? She’s been here four hours and you attacked her?”
“No. no,” he stuttered. “I guess I tripped and touched her by mistake.”
“It was a mistake alright,” David kept up the histrionics. “It was your big mistake. And it’s going to be your last mistake around here. Get the fuck outta here, you ape. Shit-headed hippo.”
Jill looked mortified. Kurt stepped into the staff room.
“You,” pointing at the four of us, “in my office. Now.”
“You,” Kurt pointed at the trembling bowl of jelly. “I’ll talk with you after they tell me their side of the story. We write stories. The Lampoon will not be the story.”
I put the pizza of the fat guy’s desk. No one came over to get a slice. Everyone averted looking at him.
David was sputtering, trying to get out his side of the story.
“Sit. All of you,” he ordered. “And you, shut up,” he shot a look at David, who glowered.
“I went along with this idea, believing this would be a good exercise in establishing equal treatment of women in the office.”
“What idea?” David was clueless.
Kurt looked at me. I mouthed ‘he doesn’t know.’
“This is not junior high,” Kurt looked directly at David. “You will go out and apologize to Terry, not because he wasn’t wrong, but because yelling, pushing and swearing at him only made matters worse.”
“You believe me that he touched her ass?” David wouldn’t let it go.
“Get out. Right now,” he ordered David. “Jill can confirm what you’re saying. And if you fail to apologize, you’re not coming back tomorrow. That was not adult behavior.”
Once David was gone, Kurt pointed at Jack. “Does he know what’s going on?” he asked me and Jill.
“Yes, I know Jill’s letting the staff harass her to document sexual inequality.”
“Well put,” Kurt admitted. Jack beamed at another victory for being charming.
“Do we tell David?” I asked.
“No. It’s part of the whole process. I’ve never seen anyone act so decisively in defending virtue.”
“He thinks he’s Sir Galahad, riding his white horse to the rescue.”
“I’ll keep him under my thumb. I can’t fault his motives. He doesn’t seem like a typical Harvard man.”
“Yeah. He’s kinda still a boy.”
“We adopted him,’ Jill admitted. “All the girls on our corridor. I’ll tell him that I need to fight my own battles.”
“Okay. I think I’ll hold off telling the staff what we’re doing. This has been instructive today. Were there any other incidents?”
I showed him my notes and tossed him the film of the photos I took.
“Jesus. Remember a lampoon is supposed to be funny and the characters just silly. Terry looked pitiful out there.”
“He should,” we all agreed.
“This is not a coup. I refuse to fire anyone. It’s entrapment. If the misogyny is endemic, we have to change the culture. I won’t scapegoat anyone.”
We were dismissed and Terry was brought into the office. We didn’t want to witness that upbraiding. David was hustling around the office, trying to keep up with all the intern demands the other staffers were laying on him. Jill gave him a quick kiss to his cheek, which confirmed his heroics to everyone. He beamed and blushed at the same time. Several upperclassmen slapped him on the back. Male bonding. We shared his tasks and the rest of the afternoon was soon over. Terry had been given the afternoon off. David surreptitiously looked at the article Terry had been working on. Minehan was ready to finish it for him, but he didn’t know who Jimmy Carter was.
“He’s running for President, duffus,” Jill kidded him.
“What? President of Harvard?” he asked.
“Just forget it,” Jack told him. “He’s running for U S President.”
“Oh, when’s the election?’
We all broke up at his ignorance. I took the writing and put it away. David was dangerous without guidance.
The rest of the week flew by. Jack took notes and kept us up on our assignments. I never went to class. I considered the Lampoon offices my ditch pad. Jill and David alternated on sitting in my seat with Jack. We had to walk David through writing exposition papers. He had no idea where to start. I explained the CAST system – character, action, setting & theme. He had no idea what a theme was. I reminded him about all the theme songs for TV shows. He could relate to that. His first paper read like a screenplay for ‘I Dream of Jeannie.’ He was a total work in progress, worse than Robbie was when he returned from ditching his entire high school career. He panicked when a TA asked him to explain why he wasn’t on the class roster after he turned in his first homework assignment. The TA gave him an add card and told him to turn it in at the registrar’s office. He figured ‘what the hell’ and turned it in. His name showed up on the next week’s roster. The boy had balls. He claimed he was having a ball. He then told his teachers in Waltham that he was enrolled at Harvard, which they accepted. He was told to turn in his Harvard final grades, so he could graduate high school. Somehow it all made sense. We could only get him to go home by reminding him he was the leader of the Neighbor Hoods.
“Oh, we changed the name. It’s now just The Neighborhoods.”
He promised to bring them to the boiler room on Saturday. We’d have a battle of the bands before the football game, to get everyone in Mower worked up for cheering on the football team. Joan and Trudie were arriving Friday afternoon. The third floor girls were unsure how to deal with Smithies. We assured them that it would only make our little clique bigger and better. We planned an outing to the Rat after getting the new girls settled. Saturday was billed as a boiler-room rock concert on the morning of the football game. The football opponent was Boston University, BU, the school around the corner from the Rat. We pretended it was a big deal and planned pranks on the BU students we’d see in Kenmore Square. We had made a few friends from the Lampoon staff, whom we asked about Saturday night house parties. My Iowa experience of barn parties wasn’t helpful.
“As long as you bring girls, we’ll get you in at Fox.”
“Oh, we’ll have girls, 7 of them including 2 from Smith,” I crowed.
“All freshmen girls?” one of them asked.
Jack had been hoping for Porcellian. He gave the guy an evil eye. “So you want easily seduced girls?” he challenged him.
“No, just pretty girls.” The guy was clueless.
On Friday night, Joan and Trudie were due in Cambridge on a chartered bus bringing Smith girls to Harvard for the football weekend. I convinced Jill and the other four girls in our third floor posse to welcome the Smithies en masse. All seven of us were at the bus terminal south of Harvard Square. All the girls turned down date offers to keep our group together. When confronted by rejected suitors, we explained that we had planned a full slate of activities for the weekend to entertain our dates from Smith. The Mower girls were helping us by putting up Joan and Trudie in their rooms. It was explained that it was all a part of welcoming Radcliffe co-eds to Harvard. We invited everyone to the spirit concert in the boiler room and encouraged the rejected to act less boorish around the girls, citing the previous weekend’s three day drinking bout. Our efforts elicited little empathy from our corridor mates who were mostly dateless for the weekend. Jack promised a keg for the boiler room show. Their spirits brightened up.
Walking to ‘Noch’s’ for pizza, the Smithies felt welcomed and soon it was a big hen-house gab-fest. David came along with us. We three males bonded on the inanity of the conversation. Trudie joined us, asking me if Jack and I were communicating better. Since I had failed to relate the advice she had given me on the phone, the answer was obviously not.
Turning to David, she asked, “How’s it going, being a secret student at Harvard?”
His eyes lit up. “I feel so entitled now,” David crowed.
“Maybe all three of you need to examine that sense of entitlement,” she suggested. “It may cause problems between you when each one makes decisions that affects the others.”
“We’s perfect roommates,” David declared. “It’s girls that gots ta talk ‘bout ever’thing.”
“Is that how you also feel?” she turned to us.
“I see your point,” I admitted. “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 added.
The hen-house conversation had stopped, as everyone else was listening to Trudie’s counseling.
“Tim says you really are learning useful strategies in your Pysch course,” Jill complimented Trudie.
“They just tell us everything is a negotiation, even passive resistence is a form of intercourse.”
“I know all s‘bout intercourse,” David jumped in.
“Not that kind of intercourse,” Jack corrected him. “Communication, not sexual intercourse.”
“I does my intercoursing with my big one,” David grabbed his crotch.
Paper, plastic utensils, and even pieces of pizza came flying across the table at all three of us boys. Trudie laughed about making her point with 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 ahead of Harvard on dealing with tricky social situations,” I suggested to our budding psychologist.
“Yeah,” Jill jumped in. “I’m the first female intern at the Lampoon. On my first day this lech grabbed my ass.”
“I rescued her,” David crowed. “That fat-ass lech had to leave for the day.”
“Yeah, and we all almost got fired from all the commotion,” Jill responded.
“Ya didn’t like my standing up fer ya?” David was distressed.
“I have to fight my own battles, honey,” she answered.
“Oh, honey,” I mocked him. “Come rescue me.”
Everyone laughed. We went back to scarfing pizza. All teenagers love pizza. As ‘Gator would say, ‘I loves a girl that don’t gives a hoot ‘bout how much she eats.’
We escorted all 7 girls back to the Yard, so they could get the Smithies settled. We advised them to dress down for the Rat, as it was not an upscale night club.
“It’s really called The Rat?” Joan asked.
“Actually it’s The Rathsheller, but you’ll see that the Rat is a better description, especially for the Townies that are regulars,” I explained, pointing at David as a Townie representative.
“You girls will be a big hit,” David claimed. “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 upbraided him.
“Sorry. How a pack of bimbos?” More objects were thrown.
Taking the T to Kenmore Square, lowered everyone’s expectations. The Red Sox were in the playoffs that night. It was a real cattle car. David had his white knight hat on and protected the ‘herd’ from notorious T gropers. The excitement had begun.
“How many girls ya need to protect ya?” our ‘friend’ Howard from BU mocked 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 wiped in football this weekend.”
“Oh, so yer not locals,” he leered at us. “The townies betta not know youse from Harvahd.”
“That why yer not going in?” Jack mocked him.
Howard counted the seven co-eds we escorted. “I think I’ll take my chances with you’s.”
Again the doorman waved us in, due to the 7 co-eds we had brought. Howard beamed at not having to pay.
“Buy us a drink,” I ordered him. He just shrugged. Jack was already taking drink orders.
The Townies were glad to see us back and started circling, unsure how to break into our clique of 7 girls. Once they noticed Minehan, they had an excuse.
“You ain’t allowed in here, Minehan,” last week’s perv threatened to be his personal bouncer.
“That’s only ‘cause I beat you down last time and ya tried to have me ‘86’d.”
“I know yer only 17,” he argued.
I remembered his name was 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 defended their pet. “He stopped the gropers on the T.”
“Welcome to Beantown, ladies. And how about that beer?” he turned to me.
I slung my arm around his neck and led him to the bar. His cohort watched us for a second, and then moved in on our harem. I laughed as David did his best to deflect their come-on lines. The girls had been here before and smoothly handled the Townies. David ended up protecting the Smithies who were experiencing the group hustle for the first time. Luckily Howard and Jack returned with beer for everyone.
“Ya don’t like Minehan?” I asked 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 donno. Eleven’s so early.”
“Okay, slick. Ya don’t need ta twist my arm.”
We returned to the scrum. Several more rounds of beer kept the mood light. The girls had been warned to use the bathroom in pairs. The Rat bathrooms were not up to gas station standards. Everyone agreed to hold it. Once the band started playing it didn’t take long for the girls to be up front, cheering and waving their arms like Baptists at a revival. The second band was the same one from the previous weekend. I expected them to keep David off their stage, but they knew our whole group made their show more exciting. They invited him up for a reprise of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk That Way.’ David took advantage of being at the mic and invited everyone to his band’s debut at Mower House in Harvard Yard the next morning.
“I go to Harvard now,” he announced. Everyone booed. He stood their grinning. Apparently he didn’t care what the reaction was, as long as it was all about him.
We left by eleven o’clock in order to catch the T back to Cambridge. Mower House was rowdy with all the boys drinking on the corridors and puking or passed out in the bushes outside. We hurried to the third floor and settled into 3D to review the night’s festivities. David reminded us that we had to order a keg for the boiler room show in the morning. Mount Auburn Liquors stayed open late for the college crowd. They showed us how to tap a keg. My barn party expertise had never covered kegs. We rolled it through Harvard Square, attracting a certain bar-fly following. The guard at the Yard stopped them in their tracks, waving us through with a wink.
“Great, Mick. How’s by you’s?”
He just waved us by. We went back to the liquor store for ice to keep the beer cold. The clerk sold us plastic cups. Somehow he had heard about the morning gig at Mower. Word was getting around. He said to call them if we needed more beer. We worried that 15 gallons of beer wasn’t enough. My quick math said that was 150 12 ounce cups. Once we were set, we sent David back to Waltham.
“You sure the Neighborhoods are ready to perform in public?” I asked.
“No worries. I’m always ready to play. If they can’t keep up, I’ll kick ‘em outta the neighborhood.”
“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 laughed at how ingenious the naming of his band was.
We went upstairs to 3D but everyone was asleep. Joan and Trudie noticed us and came out to give us goodnight kisses. They even sent David home with a kiss.
“He’s pretty cute,” they agreed.
“Don’t be jealous. We came to be with you two.”
“Is it okay, staying with the ‘Cliffies?” Jack asked.
“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 asked.
They laughed and shook their heads. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” the ever forthright Trudie decided. Joan looked conflicted. Seems we weren’t the only ones making decisions for each other.
Morning of the great debut of two teen bands, the Harvard Sitting Band and The Neighborhoods, had all of us up early. Jack was worried that with so much promotion, we’d be overwhelmed with fans demanding beer. Minehan had arrived with his ragtag crew of neighbor kids. They were overawed at being in Harvard Yard – until they saw the boiler room. I was concerned that neither band would live up to the hype.
“Where are your instruments?” I asked David.
“Oh, can’t we just use yours?”
All I could think was this was 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, so the crowd can vote each tine 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 anticipated a stadium crowd for his debut. We finally decided to set up on the courtyard in front of Mower. We ran around collecting extension cords which we ran out the dorm windows. I knew not to do a sound check in order to keep the authorities unaware that we were putting on an unauthorized show. We tuned the guitars in the boiler room, to eliminate that annoying intro to our sets. I was so worried that it was becoming a disaster that Jace appeared, signing that he’d help the Waltham kids keep their sound together. After attempting to connect with the Neighborhoods, he found that only the bassist Jim was receptive to his spiritual presence. I agreed to help, having shown Hippie how to keep it together when he was learning the bass. Confidence was everything. David needed no help there. His guitar playing would be all Minehan. Their drummer, Mike, was a stocky jock-type. He’d have to thrash along by himself.
Jack was concentrating on the Sitting Band’s set list. His purchase of a MOOG had immersed him into self-conscious, dreary dirges. We weren’t doing any False Gods songs. That was the old band, he stated. We wanted to be new, but his moody songs sounded tired and old. I could care less; Jace was here and that always lifted my spirits. Jill was all nerves, having never played in public. I laughed that I had become the bass expert. I tried to remember how Hippie had become so proficient. I guessed that his choir experience had been the foundation of playing from the heart. The twins were also choir girls.
“Did you ever sing in church?” I asked her and Jim, the Neighborhood’s bassist.
“All my life,” Jill answered.
Jim glanced at David to make sure he wasn’t listening and nodded stealthily. Apparently church and rock weren’t compatible in Waltham. Jace grinned, already in touch with Jim’s heart. Jill had 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 said. “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 looked confused at first, then nodded they understood.
“Watch me. I’ll have my guitar unplugged but still be strumming the notes. Just follow me.”
They smiled knowing they could stay in tune. Jace was already helping them get the fingering down. Whenever he moved their fingers, they smiled from being touched.
Minehan decided they would play covers, until the end, when he planned to do the song about The Rat. I laughed that he loved exposing our deviant sexuality on stage. I wondered if Jack and I could fag off to the gloomy MOOG songs. I decided we’d not do the monkeyshines song as we wanted to be taken seriously by the college crowd. Jace signed that I better cheer up and stop bossing everyone if we wanted the show to be fun.
Once we dragged the keg out onto the lawn, a line formed. We stumbled with installing the tap, until an upperclassman showed us how. With the beer flowing, we continued to set up mics and amps. Mike, the drummer, started playing rolls and different beats. Our drummer suddenly got stage fright, saying he couldn’t compete with Mike, who seemed so proficient.
“It’s not an individual competition,” I told 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 laughed. He stopped comparing himself with Mike.
Once people started coming back for seconds at the keg, I knew it was time to start. I turned on the mike. It squealed from feedback. Jack quickly adjusted the levels. I turned my SG down, so I could 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 were more laughs than cheers. Our 3D girls politely clapped. Jill smiled 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 had already sat down, expecting some lame hippie folk music concert. Most of them refused to stand until those around them were standing and blocking their view. I ripped into Jimi’s electric psychedelic riffs.
Jack sang the lyrics, with David yodeling in a Hendrix fashion. He couldn’t stop himself from playing with us.
“Who’s winning the football game today? Harvard?” I yelled to a less than thunderous response.
“BU?” I questioned. There was a section of BU fans who must have been at The Rat when we announced the show. They were more enthusiastic.
“Who’s going to the game?” Silence. It was 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 responded, grabbing my guitar. We all switched places.
“This classic is fer all the Radcliffe girls who love Aerosmith,” as he played the leads to “Walk This Way.” The 3D girls including the Smithies started their strut and sashay in front of us. The Harvard boys cheered and pressed forward. The folkies still sitting on the grass were trampled over.
David was incredible, combining both Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The drumming was on beat. Jim was hesitant and I got him to hold down his strings until David paused between verses. Jim knew the basic riff and he soloed for 5 seconds. The girls had everyone moving and waving their hands.
At the end, Jack jumped in to ‘Dream on,’ on the MOOG. I grabbed the mic from David. He stepped back, waving his long stringy greasy hair. My bleached surfer cut had yet to grow out. He was 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 awa
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 could relate about learning from fools and sages. We had their attention.
David and I fought over which band went next.
“Okay. Time to vote. Who liked the Hendrix Star Fucking Spangled Banner by Harvard?’
There were lots of cheers for the home team.
“Who liked the Townies’ Aerosmith ‘Walk This Way?” The cheers were less but more boisterous.
“Who liked 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 asked Mike, “…. Both bands together.”
Everyone liked getting along.
I turned to David. “Let’s ask for favorites and we’ll all play together?”
“Cool,” he agreed 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 was stunned. They weren’t used to populist concerts. Finally Jill yelled from behind us, “I am Woman.”
“We know that,” I joked
“Hear me roar,” she shouted.
There was a huge roar, mostly from the folkie crowd now pushed to the back.
“Get up on the mic. You’re singing, not me.”
“There have been questions,” she harangued me.
“It’s true,” David confirmed.
“Just sing the song,” I complained.
“Fag,” someone cried out.
“Go have another beer,” I answered.
Jill was at the mic. The folkies pressed forward and joined the 3D girls in front. The nay sayers left to refill their beers, leaving room for the faithful to move forward
Jill’s voice wavered at first but gathered confidence as people strained 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 discussed what song to do next, the campus police arrived. They approached the mic, to scattered jeers. At least the crowd wanted us to continue.
“The Girls of Mower,” Jill stepped up. “Do we need a permit to sing in the Yard?”
“Well, you need a permit to sell beer,” he responded.
“It’s free. We’re getting everyone ready for the football game today.”
He consulted his clipboard.
“Well, you can’t play here, especially if alcohol’s involved.”
“Everyone’s 18,” I asserted. “We’re legal to drink.”
“Well, not outside,” he ruled.
Taking the mic, he announced, “Everyone needs to disperse. Pour out your drinks and go get ready for the game.”
No one booed and a lot of beer watered the lawn. The BU/Rat crowd started chanting, “BU, BU, Terriers”
“Bow Wow Wow, you little doggies, Now git along,” the Campus Policeman chanted into the mic. Everyone laughed.
We took all the equipment back to the boiler room. It seemed so small after playing out in the open. The keg had about a quarter left. David soon recharged his on stage high with a drunken act that had him pigeon-holing anyone in his vicinity about how great he had been. No one disputed his drunken claims. Jim, the bassist, wanted 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? He’s an asshole.”
“All guitarists want to be rock stars, my definition of an asshole.”
We laughed. Jace looked sad.
“Why do I feel so sad suddenly. Our gig went great until the cops came,” Jim stated.
“No better way to end, with the fans wanting more.”
“Just suddenly I felt so sad, as if I died.”
The boy was sensitive. I knew he was 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 was 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 laughed. “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 said.
“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 him 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’s 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 was unique. I was about to shine him on but my heart knew it was okay. We shared the same trust.
“Mom, Dad, This is Tim. David stays with him and his roommate here at Harvard.”
I offered my hand. Where was 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 loved that you have a girl in the band. I thought Harvard was all-male,” his mom noted.
“It’s an experiment in co-education. We have Radcliffe girls living in our dorm. They’re our best friends. All the guys do is study all week and drink all weekend. It’s pathetic.”
The parent units seemed taken aback that we were having a normal conversation. Jim just beamed.
“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 looked 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 asked.
“$6000, including room and board,” I knew the score from Dad’s constant griping about my expenses.
“We’ll make money with the band, Dad. I’ll pay my way.
I laughed. “Pursuing rock n roll to pay for college. That’s a new one.”
I went looking for Jack. He was showing off his MOOG to mostly girls. They were suddenly interested in being in a band. Hear them roar.
Joan and Trudie had been watching me and came over once I stopped the socializing.
“Sorry. I’m not ignoring you. How’d you like the show?”
“Interesting. Nothing less than we expected. It was more fun when you sang for just 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 was direct as usual.
“I hope Jack likes me,” Joan stated her preference.
“I’m not charming enough?” I joked.
“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 thought 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 cried.
“Naw, just part o’ farmin.’”
“You are so cute when you act country.”
I sang them the John Denver song, ‘Country Boy.’
Jack came in on the MOOG. We laughed at each other.
“The girls say you sleep together,” Trudie was 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 like ‘em as well,” I confessed, both of us falling into country speech.
They looked at each other and shrugged. A least I’d told the truth. Best to let them deal with their own feelings. I wondered if I should tell Jill. From what Trudie said all the 3D girls wondered how gay we were.
“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 was time for football. Fueled by beer on empty stomachs, no one felt any pain as we crossed the Charles to Harvard Stadium, a cement edifice that looked like a 19th century Greek temple from the outside. It was minuscule compared to Iowa State’s modern stadium with about a third the capacity. Welcome to the Ivy League.
As we passed through the parking area, filled with alumni ‘tailgaters,’ we noticed that Campus Police were not enforcing the open alcohol container laws. Only rowdy students were shut down.
“It’s because the alumni contribute so much money,” Jack explained. I was sure he knew exactly what he was saying, privileged son of privileged families.
“I’ve had so much fun here,” I gushed to him and giving him a quick hug. He beamed. Any scorn about the entitled rich made me feel like Dad, grumbling while he shopped on Rodeo Drive. Life had changed around me. I needed to make sure my values and scruples hadn’t changed as well. I could still taste the remnants of our Ritz dinner from Monday night. Surrounded by seven girls we made a scene walking into the student section in the end zone. Did they think old alums could out cheer drunken students? It wasn’t just the marching band that was out of touch. At least we were seated by the band. Several members came over and congratulated us on our show for making the Sitting Band count. They wanted to join.
“We’re trying to get the Director to let us form a spirit section.” they said.
“What, clarinets and trombones?”
They looked disappointed we had disparaged their particular instruments.
“Sorry,” Jack rushed 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 in the evening. We practice in the boiler room.”
As the game started, I realized that the girls were mostly clueless about football. I organized them into a mini-cheer squad. We told them when to cheer for the offense and when for the defense. The kickoff had special cheers as well. They never knew when they should cheer. Soon one of the male Harvard cheerleader came up into the stands, asking if the girls would join them on the sidelines. We said they needed Jack and me to tell them how to cheer.
“We can do that,” the boy sneered at us lowly freshman.
“Then we refuse. We all came together. You don’t seem much fun,” Jill remonstrated. We laughed.
“Okay. Okay. They can come too.”
The game had not been going well for Harvard. The local BU boys were fired up to beat their snobby Cambridge rivals. The Crimson had not taken the game seriously as it didn’t count for the Ivy League Championship. BU was leading 14-0 after the first quarter. The cheerleaders had spread the girls along the sidelines. They pretty much just stood there, not getting instructions on what to do. It was time to take charge.
I gathered the girls around me. “We need to stir up the crowd,” I told them. We created a short skit where we’d accuse our fans in the stands of being BU fans, calling them all ‘Little Boston Terriers,” the BU mascot. The girls would pretend to be dogs, getting down on all fours and yipping and yapping around me. Three Harvard cheerleaders ran out dressed as John Harvard and chased the little terriers behind me. Then the girls backed me up with ‘Go Harvard’ cheers, repeated until the entire section was cheering. It was corny. Apparently Harvard fans took themselves too seriously to cheer. I got a megaphone and we ran the skit several times for different sections. Once the entire Harvard side of the stadium had learned to cheer, I chased the girls who were back on their hands and knees, barking like Boston Terriers back and forth until the stands were all cheering ‘Go Harvard’ in unison. The team perked up and Harvard led 21-14 at the half. The girls and I were pretty worn out. The beer had worn off. We went into the stands and many older (really old) alumni energized us from their hidden flasks. We were re-charged and ready for the second half. The old alums were surprised to learn that the girls were living in Harvard Yard and attending Harvard classes. Co-education at Harvard needed a better PR campaign. The alums praised the girls’ spirit, dispelling their reluctant support for female admissions. They turned to us and remarked that Harvard freshmen had always been crazy.
Back on the sidelines, we devised a new skit where the Harvard male cheerleaders were on their hands and knees and chased by the girls. It got lots of applause and laughs. The team sailed to a 37-14 victory. Jack came running up.
“We got an invite to Procellian tonight,” he was 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 went around looking 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 shook my head. Jack stormed off. The girls were in shock. They had never seen us fight before. Trudie had been listening. Joan ran off to be with Jack.
“Sounds like what we spoke about on the phone – making decisions for each other.”
I nodded. “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 gave me a big kiss. My ego balloon inflated. Though I realized she saw me for the control freak I became when we performed. That was the other me.
Jill ran 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 you have choices. What’s the problem?”
I glanced at Trudie. “What do you and the other girls want to do?” Trudie smiled. I was 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 told him. “You wanna go?”
Joan ran 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 go with your skits.”
He smiled at me. Good manners always gets you what you want. Thanks, Mummy.