THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOODS
Monday morning comes around too soon. We both groan at six when it is 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. In no way do they 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 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 are. Somehow neither Jack nor I are called on, despite being fully prepared. It’s academic hazing. My dad’s tuition payment s supporting this system of faux scholarship. Once we realize that class was going to be a tutorial on how stupid our classmates are, we took Minehan’s advice and declare a skip day. We proceed to the Lampoon offices and prepare to suffer intern hell.
Kurt Andersen is the boss. He knows the drill and tries to rise above the hazing. We quickly become indispensable to his every need. We go to the Coop and buy a French Press coffee maker. The staff has never experienced coffee that isn’t instant (at home) or burned (at restaurants and coffee shops). Jack’s training includes grinding and pressing excellent brew. That Monday we even add two glazed donuts, from Dunkin’ Donuts (before they stopped caring how quickly their donuts become stale). Kurt is pleased. We are again intern pets. By the time our day is over, he has us perusing proofs and running them to the printer. No one else dares give us menial tasks for fear of Kurt’s wrath.
“I thought freshmen had morning classes,” he quizzes us.
“It’s a skip day, David declared it,” Jack explains.
“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 change anything.”
“How’s that going?”
“That sounds like an interesting story. Any ideas?”
“Sure,” Jack is Johnny-on-the-spot. “Why not let one of them intern here. We’ll write up the sexual harassment. We can even get pictures.”
“You want to do an exposé on the Lampoon?”
“Lampooning the Lampoon sounds about right,” I joke.
“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 rush back to Mower and run up to the third floor. We worked all day at the Lampoon. The girls are 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 announces.
“Sounds like you enjoyed your first intern day at the Lampoon,” Jill mocks 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 spill the beans.
All the girls whoop and holler. Feminism making strides. I feel so guilty in my complicity – failure to support the white male tribe. Jill is white, blonde and petite. She’ll fit right in. My second guilt is not telling her she’ll be the subject of a Lampoon lampoon.
Jack calls Mummy for a recommendation of an appropriate restaurant to celebrate the girls’ breakthrough. She naturally recommends the Ritz on Boston’s Public Gardens. I insist we take the T, to Jack’s dismay. He feels only a limo arrival will make our Boston debut. I remind him that all of us had already debuted, at the Rat. He just scoffs at that idea. Instead of changing trains in downtown Boston we get off at Park Street Station and walk through Boston Common and The Public Gardens. It’s a warm evening with the sun setting earlier than at our arrival in September. We are pretty cocky, dining at the Ritz, and celebrating Jill, as well as ourselves, of course. Jack can’t help himself. Soon we’re all singing ‘Putting on the Ritz.”
We waltz up the front stairs. Without a reservation, we have to wait in the bar. Drinking cocktails as we sit in the window overlooking the Gardens, it looks like we had arrived. After grilling us on our ID’s, the waiter quickly returns.
“Who’s Jill?” he asks, bringing out a corsage of white orchid. She beams. Mummy strikes again.
” Courtesy of Mrs. Stone,” he announces. Jack blushes. All the girls jump up and kiss him. I pinned the corsage to Jill’s blouse.
“Is this how he lives in New York?” Jill whispers.
“Oh, worse. We have to travel by limo, even to the Bronx,” I confide.
“Not always,” I quote 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 insists.
“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. 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 hugs me. Now I blush.
“You boys are so cute. You both blush at nothing.”
I hoped it is nothing. We’re pushing the line between flirting and deceiving them about our sexuality. I decide it is best to be honest about her internship.
“Let’s go talk elsewhere,” I need to get her alone to tell her the truth.
She’s now the one blushing .
“We’re going to powder our noses,” I announce. The other girls giggle. Jill is really red-faced now.
We walk up from the bar and pretend 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 encourage 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 joke.
“I have to tell them that someone initiated a kiss,” she beams. I blushed again. “You are so innocent and yet evil at the same time,” she deduces.
We laugh and return to the bar. Apparently Mummy’s name moved us up on the reservations list. Everyone else has gone upstairs to the dining room. Soon all seven of us re seated at a round table. From the third floor, we look out on an even wider view of the Public Gardens. The ornate room with twenty-foot ceilings and fancy columns is just grand. The maitre d’ explains that Mrs. Stone had taken care of the bill and hope we’ll enjoy whatever catches our fancy for dinner, no expense spared.
“Here’s to Mummy,” I toast. Jack is somewhat mortified and continues to blush.
“What is going on with you boys,” Trixie, Jill’s roommate, asks.
“Jack no longer calls her Mummy, but since they adopted me, I can still call her that.”
Everyone laughs. Jack blushes even pinker, then turns bright red when each girl hugs and kisses him.
“We’re having a totally delightful time,” Trixie announces.
Jack and I can’t help ourselves from singing the Cole Porter commercial for De Soto:
The other diners appreciate our a Cappella impromptu performance. We get a hand. Jack and I both stand up and bow. Now the girls are blushing. Someone takes a photo. I almost regret we aren’t in New York where we’d be in the Post the next day. Maybe we are too big for Boston.
The meal goes splendidly. Jack helps the girls with menu suggestions. I don’t see the bill that Jack signs, but later he tells me it was more than $200. The girls would have died to know. We walk slowly back to the T station through the Gardens and Common, trying to settle down our stuffed tummies. All seven of us are strolling hand-in-hand., weaving around passersby as if we were drunk, which is 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 perk up. “How about the Rat?”
No one else wants to ruin our perfect evening. Jill just winks at me. I think about how I am going to tell Flo about a possible new girlfriend. We haven’t talked in ages. I know that is wrong, but the evening lets me put off any repentance. I had gone to mass, at least.
“What’s up? You seem a million miles away,” Jill puts her arm around my waist.
“Just the meal, I guess,” I don’t want to spoil the mood.
“Come on, 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 answers her concerns. Jack is teaching me manners. I don’t have to say anything else.
We say goodnight at the stairs leading to the third floor. We all have homework to do. Dinner has taken four hours and it’s after ten. Our plans are disrupted when we find Minehan waiting for us in our dorm room.
“What’s up butt fucks?” he greets us.
“Whats up yours,” I rejoin.
We all laugh.
“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 looks like he’s about to cry.
“No way,” Jack admits. “But she’s an intern too. She starts tomorrow. You, too.”
“Cool. I wanna go to class too,” he quickly recovers.
“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 takes David’s side. “You and Jill can be at the Lampoon all day. We’ll come in the afternoon. You can do the assignments from my notes.”
“It’s all settled,” Minehan crows, jumping into Jack’s bed.
I need advice from Trudie about our roommate issues. I decide 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 is more reasonable. It was only 10:20.
“Where are you?” she apparently is more receptive to some schools over others.
“Well, alright. But only a few minutes. These girls need their beauty sleep.”
“Not Trudie,” I argue.
She laughs, “Okay Prince Charming. Use the sugar on her, not me. And no nasty talk.”
“Hi, Tim,” Trudie come 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 is 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 talks 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 walk back in. David is sound asleep, Jack is anxious to get me into bed. The evening’s testosterone is wearing off.
“I just want to hold you,” he whispers. “There’s no way we’re doing anything with a Townie in the room.”
“We’ve 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 here. Now.”
“Jeez, you guys,” Minehan mumbles. ” Now I can’t get to sleep,” .
Jill wakes us up, laughing that David has stolen Jack’s bed. She doesn’t seem concerned that the two of us sleep together. We go to breakfast in commons where we discuss our plans for being full-time interns at the Lampoon while needing to attend classes. Jack volunteers to be the attentive note-taker for all lectures. David wants to be seen as a good student, so he’d sit in class with Jack in my seat. Jill and I will only attend when we think the lecture is going to be interesting or at least compulsory for passing the class. David asks us to edit his assignments as he thinks his high school education leaves him far behind everyone else. I know he’ll soon learn otherwise. Freshman classes at Harvard are not groundbreaking. I ask Jill if it’s okay for the Smith girls to stay with them on the football weekend. She agrees but seems slightly perturbed to be putting up our dates. Dating in the 70s is a work in progress. After seeming affectionate the prior evening at the Ritz, she distances herself with the conundrum of having to meet our weekend dates. We promise that it will be one big group with no one excluded and no exclusive couples. The intricacies of the sexual revolution. We also plan on how to deal with sexism at the Lampoon. The point of a lampoon is to make everyone look silly. All these plots and posturings are boring to David. He’s only worried that he isn’t dressed properly to masquerade as a Harvard student. We assure him that it’s his behavior that is going to give him away. He promises not to drink during the day. He asks when he can bring his new band mates to a Harvard Sitting Band rehearsal. He hopes we’ll help whip them into shape. Jace appears with a wispy whip, which he vigorous snaps. The sound reverberates throughout the commons. It’s too early for sleepy students to notice. Jace is hopeful about spreading his heartfelt music theories. We finish our gruel and go off to class or internship.
Jill wears a short short skirt with more makeup than usual, looking like a vixen wanting to be harassed. She sits with Kurt while I prepare his coffee and donuts. I need to get a monkey suit to wear. He assures her that she is a full intern and will stay on regardless of how nasty the staff is to her. His intention is good – to make the workplace welcoming to women. The lampoon article will straighten out any underlying or subconscious prejudices that keep women from being happy, productive staff members.
“Yeah, like little obedient intern slaves,” I note while placing coffee and donuts on his desk.
“Don’t listen to Tim. He loves being an intern,” Kurt cuts 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 snark.
“You’re dismissed, Castle,” Kurt shows me the door.
“Good luck, Jill.”
My new assignment is to shadow Jill and record all misogynistic comments or actions. Not only am I at Kurt’s beck and call, now I have to be in the general staff area, available for all their whims. At least Jill can’t complain that I receive preferential treatment. We slave together. Any crap job goes my way, while the staffers drool 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 lends me a miniature spy camera to document lecherous behavior. Kurt decrees that on Jill’s first day only we three know about the exposé. It will 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 begins Jill’s day 1 in hell.
The staff is surprised when Kurt introduces Jill as a new intern. They seem welcoming, greeting her with terms of endearment. There is nothing overtly offensive, except they never call me ‘dear’ or ‘sweetheart.’ I count five times these terms are used. I also take several pictures of staffers leering at her ass after she walks by. One over-weight lecher clumsily drops a piece of paper, asking her to pick it up, so he can sneak a look down her blouse. It seems like he is showing off for his buddies. Nobody is downright mean or offensive beyond an uncomfortable familiarity. Jill acts 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 as well.”
“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 avoids asking how we sleep together. The girls come into our room at all hours. Harvard doesn’t put locks on the dorm room doors. We we’re all supposedly gentlemen. No need for privacy or security in Harvard Yard.
I go to prepare Kurt’s second cup of coffee. Jill runs off to Dunkin’ Donuts for me. She’s a good intern.
By lunchtime, Jill has several invitations to join staff members at their exclusive dining clubs. She declines, explaining that the two of us have to check with the other two interns to catch up on what we missed in morning classes. The first negative remark directed at Jill concerns her need to know who butters her bread.
We meet Jack and David at commons and catch each other up. As expected, Jack has produced extensive notes on the morning lectures. He even made copies for us, including David, who sate with him in body only, not paying attention to anything other than how no one notices he is a high schooler. Fitting in is the main thrust of his high school education. All four of us return to the Lampoon for an afternoon of mindless chores. David is better prepared than Jack for reality.
Jack and David are corralled by Kurt for his personal needs. I continue with Jill rushing around at the beck and call of the general staff. Soon I’m sent on outside errands while Jill remains behind. Someone apparently noticed that I was acting as Jill’s shadow guard. She whispers that she’ll keep notes on obnoxious behavior.
I get back from a ‘Noch’s run to find the office in an uproar. Everyone is mesmerized by David screaming at the over-weight lecher, pushing and shoving someone twice his size and waving his hands as he yells at the top of his formidable voice.
I rush over, while everyone else watches, including Kurt from his office door.
I turn on the upperclassman. “What’s wrong with you? She’s been here four hours and you attack her?”
“No. no,” he stutters. “I guess I tripped and touched her by mistake.”
“It was a mistake alright,” David keeps 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 looks mortified. Kurt steps into the staff room.
“You,” pointing at the four of us, “in my office. Now.”
“You,” Kurt points 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 comes over to get a slice. Everyone averts looking at him. They all know he’s guilty.
David is sputtering, trying to get out his side of the story.
“Sit. All of you,” he orders. “And you, shut up,” he shoots a look at David, who glowers.
“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 is clueless.
Kurt looks at me. I mouthed ‘he doesn’t know.’
“This is not junior high,” Kurt looks directly at David. “You will go out and apologize to Terry, not because he isn’t wrong. Because yelling, pushing and swearing at him only made matters worse.”
“You believe me that he touched her ass?” David won’t let it go.
“Get out. Right now,” he orders 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 is gone, Kurt pointed at Jack. “Does he know what’s going on?” he asks me and Jill.
“Yes, I know Jill’s letting the staff harass her to document sexual inequality.”
“Well put,” Kurt admits. Jack beams at another victory for being charming.
“Do we tell David?” I ask.
“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 admits. “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 agree.
“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’re dismissed and Terry is brought into the office. We don’t want to witness that upbraiding. David is hustling around the office, trying to keep up with all the intern demands the other staffers are laying on him. Jill gives him a quick kiss to his cheek, which confirmed his heroics to everyone. He beams and blushed at the same time. Several upperclassmen slap him on the back. Male bonding. We share his tasks and the rest of the afternoon is soon over. Terry had been given the afternoon off. David surreptitiously looks at the article Terry had been working on. He wants to finish it for him, but he doesn’t know who Jimmy Carter is.
“He’s running for President, duffus,” Jill kids him.
“What? President of Harvard?” he asks.
“Just forget it,” Jack tells him. “He’s running for U S President.”
“Oh, when’s the election?’
We all break up at his ignorance. I take the writing and put it away. David is dangerous without guidance.
The rest of the week flies by. Jack takes notes and keeps us up on our assignments. I never go to class. I consider the Lampoon office my ditch pad. Jill and David alternate on sitting in my seat with Jack. We have to walk David through writing exposition papers. He has no idea where to start. I explain the CAST system – character, action, setting & theme. He hasn’t a clue on what a theme is. I reminded him about all the theme songs for TV shows. He relates to that. His first paper reads like a screenplay for ‘I Dream of Jeannie.’ He is a total work in progress, worse than Robbie was when he returned from ditching his entire high school career. He panics when a TA asks him to explain why he isn’t on the class roster after he turns in his first homework assignment. The TA gives him an add card and tells him to turn it in at the registrar’s office. He figures ‘what the hell’ and turns it in. His name shows up on the next week’s roster. The boy has balls. He claims to be having a ball. He then tells his teachers in Waltham that he is enrolled at Harvard, which they accept. They tell him to turn in his Harvard final grades, so he could graduate high school. Somehow it all makes sense. We can only get him to go home by reminding him he is the leader of the Neighbor Hoods.
“Oh, we changed the name. It’s now just The Neighborhoods.”
He promises to bring them to the boiler room on Saturday. We’ll 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 are arriving Friday afternoon. The third floor girls are unsure how to deal with Smithies. We assure them that it will only make our little clique bigger and better. We plan an outing to the Rat after getting the new girls settled. Saturday is billed as a boiler-room rock concert on the morning of the football game. The football opponent is Boston University, BU, the school around the corner from the Rat. We pretends it’s a big deal and plan pranks on the BU students we’ll see in Kenmore Square. We make a few friends from the Lampoon staff, whom we ask about Saturday night house parties. My Iowa experience of barn parties isn’t helpful.
“As long as you bring girls, we’ll get you in at Fox.”
“Oh, we have girls, 7 of them including 2 from Smith,” I crow.
“All freshmen girls?” one of them asks.
Jack has been hoping for Porcellian. He gives the guy the stink eye. “So you want easily seduced girls?” he challenges him.
“No, just pretty girls.” The guy is clueless.
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 confront by rejected suitors, we explain that we had plan 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. It is explained 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 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.
Walking 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 Pysch 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 while 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 all almost got fired from all 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 gives 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 at 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 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 you’s.”
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 and 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 handled 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 donno. 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 settled 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 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 are 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 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 laughs at how ingenious the name of his band is.
We go upstairs to 3D but everyone is asleep. Joan and Trudie notices us and comes 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 Sitting Band and The Neighborhoods, has all of us up early. Jack was worried that with so much promotion, well 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 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 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 willl be all Minehan. Their drummer, Mike, is a stocky jock-type. He’ll have to thrash along by himself.
Jack is concentrating on the Sitting 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’;; 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 if we want the show to be fun.
Once we dragged 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 already is 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 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 fight over which band goes 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 likes getting along.
I turned 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 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 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 approached 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 booes 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? 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 wa\\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 unique. 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. All the guys do is study all week and drink all weekend. It’s pathetic.”
The parent units seem taken aback that we were 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 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 came over once I stop 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 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 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 sang them the John Denver song, ‘Country Boy.’
Jack comes in on the MOOG. We laugh at each other.
“The girls say 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 like ‘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 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 to be 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 for making the Sitting 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 in the evening. We practice in the boiler room.”
As the game starts, I realize that the girls were 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’d 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 run out 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 energized 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 accept Fox but then you go 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 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 sees me for the control freak I became 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.