:: The Great Race ::
Watching an Olympic marathon, I was swept back to one of the highlights of my own athletic career, the Great Race during Hell Week. We pledges were to run five laps through the fraternity house, the winner to receive extra hours of sleep.
Five of us were pledging in the autumn of 1965. In the future, we would become respectable members of society. A partner in one of Washington D.C.’s most prestigious law firms. A retired Air Force Colonel. A dentist with a love of ballroom dancing. But the night of the Great Race we were students, shabbily dressed and badly in need of showers, haggard with fatigue, and ready to do anything for more sleep. And so we took off from the starting line with fire in our eyes, straining every sinew. Our house had two staircases; we thundered up one set, through the hallways and then down the other stairs, through the kitchen, the dining room and front hall with cheering fraternity brothers lining the course upstairs and down. It was the Monaco Gran Prix or Italy’s Mille Miglia, only indoors. We threw the occasional elbow to ward off a would-be overtaker, bounced off the walls on the turns, and hurdled leather chairs that unexpectedly began to appear at different spots on the course with each new lap.
I have never been known for my athletic prowess, and had there been wagering on the Great Race, I would have required long odds to attract any bettors. But obstacle courses have always brought out the best in me, I was frantic for sleep, and somehow, on the third lap, when Dave Sheehan stumbled and fell into Mark Race and they bounced off the walls of a narrow hallway, I shot the gap and burst into the lead, sprinting as if the very hounds of Hell were at my heels. I will never forget being the first man to round the corner in the upper hall, seeing the open-mouthed astonishment of the spectators and hearing their surprised whoops and cheers for me — the dark horse, the underdog — unbelievably appearing at the head of the pack.
But there were two more laps to go, and I had peaked too soon. The former high school athletes, just as desperate as myself for slumber, recovered their poise, doubled their resolve and flew by me on the next to the last lap. I would not win the extra hours of sleep; no commentator would put his arm around my heaving shoulders and asked me how it felt to win the gold. But I had my moment in the lead, my precious seconds with nothing but the open course beckoning me onward, and the exhilarating cheers of my peers lifting my spirits and echoing in my memory forever.
:: A Night at the Cinema ::
In the era before the Web, before video, before cable, even before the X rating, there were stag films: grainy, black and white productions with amateur (although not innocent) talent, no sound, and no socially redeeming value. One of my fondest memories of my college years was an evening of such films at my fraternity house. One of our number was interning locally and met a co-worker who had inherited a collection of 16-mm stag films, a stack of gray tins in a shopping bag, which he hid in a loft over his garage. But his good fortune at receiving this legacy was somewhat diminished by the fact that he had no movie projector. We, on the other hand, had a projector, but no movies. It was a perfect match. In exchange for a few beers and a reserved seat, the cinephile brought his shopping bag to our fraternity house and we set up our projector in the attic.
Because this third-floor area doubled as “the dorm” where most of us slept, there were rows of Army cots on either side of the central aisle. The “theater” began filling early. It was a festive occasion. Everyone brought beverages and snacks. A bed sheet was hung at the far end of the room, under the peaked roof. The lights were doused; the projector whirred and clattered into life. The beam of white light revealed a large stain in the middle of the sheet, and inspired the first of many raucous outbursts. The films began. I had never seen such subject matter. I was young and untutored in such things.
Fortunately, there was one among us who knew his way around this illicit world, and he provided a running narration, announcing each act in the manner of the ringmaster at the circus. Some of the performances were of a traditional variety and required no subtext, but others were of a more advanced nature. As one film built to its crescendo, and its stars became more and more inspired, the open captioning became more imaginative. At one point, our ebullient narrator shouted, “It’s a Barber Pole… followed by… an Around-the-World!” and the chorus chimed in with cries of “My goodness!” and “Oh boy!”
One of the films actually had a story line, involving “The Phantom,” a masked man in a black turtleneck and no pants who behaved like a nasty Zorro. In another feature, a thin, pale 40-ish man retained his eyeglasses and black socks throughout. The action took place next to a fully decorated Christmas tree, an unexpected holiday touch.
Although everything about the evening had a forbidden air, we felt secure in our attic hideaway. Until a fraternity brother who had been studying at the library arrived and informed us that because we had hung the sheet in front of a window, the show, albeit reversed, was visible from the street. It was the perfect end to a magical evening.
:: Party at the Penitentiary ::
One of the high points of our summer was an Open House at the Hanford family’s Sycamore Hill Farm on Old Seneca Turnpike, a working farm with 25 acres of gardens. The majestic sycamore tree by the family’s house is older than the United States of America, and the first of many jaw droppers. These gardens do not suffer from a lack of imagination. There are statues everywhere, classical and whimsical, from goddesses to dragons to wild boars. Four hundred types of trees and shrubs, ponds stocked with koi fish as big as ocean tuna, fountains, bowers, nooks, lanes, glens, a fairy woods — this place has it all.
The Hanfords are raising a tower that looks positively medieval — a castle tower with arches and a stairway where Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone could comfortably cross swords. It is being built with limestone blocks from the former Jamesville Penitentiary, a great gray pile used as Onondaga County’s prison from 1901 to 1983, and torn down in 1999. Looking at the tower and reading the history thoughtfully tacked up for those on the tour, I was swept back to a bit of my own past.
It was 1966 and I was a college lad at Syracuse University. One of my fraternity brothers, Brian Kes, received a telephone call from a hometown friend who was studying at nearby Cazenovia College. She was at a party with several of her fellow Cazenovia co-eds, and wondered if Brian could rustle up some young men to balance things out. And where was the party? At the home of one of the co-eds who was weekending with her parents, who lived in the warden’s quarters of Jamesville Penitentiary. Even then, I saw that I could dine out on this story for a lifetime.
I made the trip to Jamesville as a passenger in the back of Ron Labouchere’s red Mercedes Benz sports car, sharing a space behind the seats with the folded convertible top. We followed the drive up to the front of the prison, to a four-story, squarish stone building that held the penitentiary’s offices and the warden’s quarters. It seemed more like a City Hall than part of a penitentiary. Its high arched windows contrasted with the small, barred windows of the prison building itself, which stood silently back in the shadows.
The entrance was a portico with gray stone arches, and above the portico was a covered porch with identical arches. From this porch, young ladies in party dresses waved to us. A breeze ruffled the new leaves of nearby trees. Yellow light glowed from the windows and music was playing.
A young lady brought us into the building, up some stairs and into the warden’s quarters on the second floor. Rooms with high ceilings flanked a wide central hallway. I remember the warden and his wife seated and smiling in the large kitchen. I remember the beautiful woodwork, and a large, comfortable living room, the light from the old lamps, and of course, smiling Cazenovia college girls in pretty dresses, delighted to meet us. We mixed, we chatted, we stood out on the porch and looked at the starry sky. I was 19 years old, attending a party at a penitentiary.
Among the songs that got repeat play that evening was a Rolling Stones tune, “I’m Free.” I recall thinking that if the inmates could hear that one, it probably wasn’t going over too well with them.
There was one young woman I was drawn to, sitting in a corner, holding court. She was a young woman of color, with a beautiful French accent. I recall a pink dress, although that could just be my memory. She was the daughter of the president, or perhaps the prime minister, of some nation in the Caribbean. She was vivacious, inquisitive, delightful, exotic. Her name was Sissi. We danced. We talked. We laughed.
And then it was time to go. We thanked our host and hostess, and did not linger. When someone tells you it’s time to leave a prison, you go.
* * *
I have heard from Brian Kes, who recalls a vivid memory from the evening. At least one door, perhaps the door to the warden’s quarters, required an enormous key. Brian writes, “You put three fingers through the key handle to turn the door lock, it must have weighed two pounds.” Brian also notes, “The warden’s apartment was beautiful with all the oak paneling and trim – there were many ‘volunteers’ available to care for it. Some of the ‘volunteers’ were there when we first arrived. The old penitentiary was imposing and cold (it was winter when we went there) with no plants or anything else near the structure. What a beautiful transformation to become part of a garden and so different – I thought of Sissinghurst Castle in England when you mentioned the garden.” I remember it being spring, Brian winter. Not sure if I’ll ever be sure, especially in upstate New York where those two seasons often occur simultaneously.
Ours were not the only histories to intersect at the Jamesville Penitentiary. The prison was built on the former Puffet farm. Long before the Puffets, the site was home to the Onondaga Nation’s capital from 1682 to 1696, and included a burial ground.
In the late 1960’s, a friend of mine did time at Jamesville. His crime was to appear at his Draft physical with his entire body painted blue and draped only in a toga. Young men were usually asked to strip down to underpants, shoes and socks for the physical, but Ron was way ahead of them. The staff summoned the police who arrested Ron for indecent exposure. He was sent to the Penitentiary at Jamesville. His conviction, of course, rendered him unfit for military service. That showed him! I asked him about his time at Jamesville. “Unrelenting tedium,” he said, adding that if he had heard the Rolling Stones singing “I’m Free” during his stay, he would not have appreciated it.
* * *
I am grateful to Mary Kay who wrote with a correction: “Just enjoyed your story… but you may need to edit it a bit because MY father was the warden of the Jamesville Penitentiary in 1966. I think you may be talking about his assistant – Carlile Pierce. Barbara and Roberta were his daughters and indeed they did live upstairs at the prison.”
:: A Bone to Pick ::
The other day I was reading an essay that began with the phrase, “I have a bone to pick,” and I immediately had to look up from my book and think about Mrs. Guenther. She was the mother of my friend Russell, and she used to read his mail, including the letters I wrote to Russell from college.
This was before the Patriot Act, an era in which reading someone else’s mail was thought to be rude, but she clearly felt entitled. Knowing that my letters to Russell had a minimum of two readers was helpful to me in the selection, and omission, of topics and vocabulary. Forewarned, I exercised caution, but I could not leave well enough alone. I began every one of Russell’s letters with the salutation, “Hello, Mrs. Guenther.”
Depending upon my mood, I might also inquire after her health and the weather. Russell enjoyed these preludes, but Mrs. Guenther did not. When I next put in a personal appearance at Russell’s home, the first thing she said to me was, “I have a bone to pick with you.” And I, all innocence and charm, said, “Yes?” Silence fell. It was one thing to read her son’s mail; it was quite another to admit openly that she was ferreting in desk drawers and steaming envelopes. So she glared at me, hoping to make her displeasure known by expression alone.
The next time I wrote Russell, I let Mrs. Guenther know how nice it was to see her again.
:: Dan’s Clock ::
An iguana inside a cement mixer, growling over the grinding of the machine, louder with each ride up the wall and fall to the bottom. Was he gray from the cement dust or silver because he was made of metal? His growl was metallic and raspy, and then I woke, sat up in bed in the attic of our fraternity house, and realized that the iguana’s cry was actually Dan’s buzzing alarm clock.
In the autumn semester of 1967, Dan had five 8 o’clock classes, and he set the alarm for 7 a.m. every weekday morning. He was a conscientious student whose grades reflected his efforts; the semester we pledged, he got five A’s. But about 16 of us slept in the same large room, called “the dorm,” under the rafters in rows of Army cots, and Dan’s clock woke us all up at 7 a.m., every weekday morning.
We asked Dan to get a new clock, but he could not afford a new clock. Hey, we were all on tight budgets and we understood, but that clock had to go. Of course, we could not steal Dan’s clock. That would have been wrong. We decided to blow it up.
Since demolition in situ might have undesirable consequences — fire, smoke, flying metal — we decided to blow up the clock outside. The explosive of choice was the venerable M-80, the equivalent of a quarter stick of dynamite, and not to be trifled with, a firecracker with a deservedly evil reputation. A brother who shall remain nameless (Chick) happily contributed one to the project.
Out back, the M-80 was taped to Dan’s clock and in a finely choreographed sequence the fuse was lit, a garbage can placed upside-down over the hissing bundle, and a cinder block placed on the garbage can. We danced away to watch from a distance. There was a muffled whoomp. When we lifted the can, we saw through the smoke that the plan had worked to perfection. The clock must have been in thirty or forty pieces; I especially liked the scorched dial.
But we were only half done. We swept up the remains, took them back upstairs and placed them in a pile in the same spot the whole clock had occupied just minutes before. We even restored the cord to its original position, trailing back towards the wall outlet.
We all went to bed early that night, and waited. Dan came up the stairs, sat down on the edge of his bed, clicked on his flashlight to set his alarm, saw a little mound of debris, the twisted minute-hand pointing to heaven, and after a long pause said, “My clock…”
I will always remember the tone of his voice, astonishment mixed with sadness and loss. And the wheezing of his fraternity brothers trying to disguise their laughter as the customary sounds one makes while sleeping.
“But how will I get up?” he said. And someone said, “Dan, I have an 8 o’clock.” The next day, Dan bought a new clock, one that woke him softly, but left the rest of us to sleep with innocent smiles on our faces.
There is an epilogue. Dan’s studies served him well. He graduated cum laude, went on to law school, took a job with the oldest law firm in the United States, was made a partner, and today practices in our nation’s capital. I traded emails with him a month or so ago; he sounded great, and is probably sleeping the sleep of the just.
:: Mentors ::
Looking back on my college experience in the 1960s, it seems unfair that my parents made out tuition checks to Syracuse University. Surely it would have been better if tuition had been paid to the people I actually learned from.
For example, my fraternity house, the wayward Gamma Omicron chapter of Delta Tau Delta, housed an extraordinary collection of mentors.
From Dan McNelly, I learned about the eclectic life, hot sauce and Hunter S. Thompson.
From Dick Taylor, I learned about film, accompanying him for first viewings of Citizen Kane and Triumph of Will and scores of others. On average, he saw 14 movies a weekend. I’m sure my love of film has a lot to do with his tutelage and enthusiasm.
Phil Kennedy let me sit and watch him draw in his small room on the third floor. He worked in black-bound books with fresh white pages, and I saw that miracles could flow out of a Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pen.
Down in the basement, John Moses showed me how to glue stones to canvas with gesso and make paintings three-dimensional. John also taught me not to stand next to the oil furnace when it ignited because a three-foot flame would shoot out and scare you half to death. He had the furnace’s help on that one.
Brian Kes introduced me to the sound of the 12-string guitar and his twin brother Peter illuminated the capricious nature of the military, at the height of the war in Vietnam, by parlaying Air Force ROTC into duty in Bermuda.
A brother who shall remain nameless taught me that the Forestry School’s obscure program of photogrammetry could lead to a draft-deferrable job at the CIA.
Gary Jackson alerted me to the hazards of opening champagne bottles with anything less than extreme caution.
One evening at dinner, Sam Conway suddenly sang “That’s How Strong My Love Is” to his spoon and taught me that some times the spirit just moves you.
Doug Starr taught me that limericks and Milton’s Paradise Lost are best heard aloud, especially, “Him the Almighty Power hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky with hideous ruin and combustion down to bottomless perdition, there to dwell in adamantine chains and penal fire.”
Gregg Murphy told me never to run from the police; he’d done it ten times and been caught seven; his last speeding ticket, in Arizona, had to be fixed by the Governor of Massachusetts. He also showed me that in a Corvette you can change lanes with torque alone, and that if you drink thirteen quarts of Schaeffer beer over the course of an evening, you will almost certainly wet the bed.
David Taylor taught me that it’s all right to greet a Supreme Court Justice with “How are they hanging?” as long as he’s a fraternity brother. (Justice Tom Clark’s response was, “Fine, just fine.”)
From Dave “Tikie” Bower, I learned never to take my eyes off Dave “Tikie” Bower.
Mark Race and Tom Hill taught me that one did not need to misbehave all the time in order to enjoy life, and David Bihary taught me that you could settle down any time and be happy.
Rick Ward taught me a lot about innocence, especially when he lost it.
Ron Labouchere taught me that even the rich have problems.
And there were visiting scholars. Walt Krug shared more about fifties and sixties music trivia than anyone should know. From Dan McNelly’s father, I learned that it was okay to speak with adults and that if you were going to overspend in this life, do it on your motorcycle helmet.
I even learned from my own experience. To wear sneakers, not loafers, when climbing to the top of the roof. Not to argue about everything with everyone. And perhaps the most valuable lesson of all: Don’t drink the punch. So many lessons, so many people to be thankful for.
:: The Revenge of Esther ::
When I was a student at Syracuse University, the only bar close to campus was The Orange, on South Crouse Avenue, just around the corner from Marshall Street. Hapless and dateless, I generally drank downstairs at the bar, but by my senior year I had managed to attract some female companionship and on occasion would venture upstairs to the larger back room with its jukebox, booths, and Esther.
Named for a queen, Esther ruled the upstairs room. In an era giving way to jeans and army surplus, Esther wore a clean white waitress’s uniform, ironed and starched. Her white hair was pinned up, her expression unchanging. She was a formidable person, and when approaching your table from across the dance floor appeared to be something from the Cunard Line cruising out of the fog to berth and drop anchor.
We were always polite with Esther; everyone was polite with Esther. But one day, while we sat drinking beer and talking about the draft (the Selective Service, not the beer), our attention was drawn suddenly to a young man across the room who was slapping on the table top, summoning Esther. We were stunned into silence. What would she do? What doom awaited this arrogant young lord?
Esther went to the table, leveled her tray and quietly took his order. The young man, clad in a college jacket with white leather sleeves, did not say “please.” He blustered, he bantered, he waved his arms. Esther returned with his beer, collected his money and went away. We could hardly believe our eyes. A short time later, the young lord pounded on the table again. For sure, we thought, this will be the end. But once more, Esther came and went without a word.
Our eyes followed Esther over to her station, where she placed orders, picked up beer and sent the empties down a little chute. I was fascinated by the chute, a metal affair that received the bottles which then disappeared, rolling down a series of ramps into the basement. There was a shelf by the chute, and here, I noticed, Esther had left one empty bottle of Budweiser. That was odd, because she was normally so neat. And as she brought tray after tray of empties back that day, she lifted each one and poured its dregs into the single empty Budweiser bottle. Empty at first, but now filling, slowly, inexorably.
Our eyes widened. “She wouldn’t,” one of our party said. “Oh my God,” said another. And again the young lord slapped on the table, and again Esther brought a round to his table. And over at the chute, the lone bottle was now more than half full, its time approaching.
“She wouldn’t,” but she did. The young lord slapped on the table, Esther took his order, and returned to her station. She picked up the sweating bottle, now filled to the brim with at least thirty varieties of flat beer and backwash, placed it on her tray and carried it like champagne to the arrogant young lord. We watched in fascination as Esther placed it on the table and left without a look back. The young lord laughed, paused in his story, lifted the bottle and drained half at one pull. He didn’t have a clue
Esther’s revenge was complete. We left quietly, in awe of the Queen of the Orange.
:: Slap Jack & Kick the Can ::
“He played slap-jack at such lightning speed that the cards hardly hit the table before he covered them.”
I was reading Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi — a memoir written in 1944 while the author hid from Nazis and Fascists in Florence — and the line above about a boy named Capitano took me straight back to Dan McNelly’s room in my fraternity house, where Dan, Rick, DT, Sam, T. Hill and others played games that I remember with great fondness. Slapjack, Kick the Can, Tiddlywinks, the infamous Paper Wad Game, all played as if thousands were in the stands, as if there was no tomorrow.
We went to our knees for Slapjack, in a circle, each dealing a card out from the deck in our hands, turning the card face up as we dealt it while calling out the cards in order, “ace… deuce… three… four…” and all slapping the pile when the card that turned up matched the card being called. The slowest man, whose hand landed on top of everyone else’s, had to take the pile. And if you slapped when there was no match, you “won” all the cards in the pile for your error. We were fast and we were devious. By faking a slap, you might lure someone else into slapping, and make them eat the pile. The longer the time between matches, the higher the pile, the greater the suspense. It was like a quick draw contest, only the loser didn’t die, he just had to take a lot of cards, and endure commentary on his slowness in all things.
Tiddlywinks was quieter, but every bit as intense. The world shrank down to one small cup in the center of the carpet, a soft narration by someone whispering, “One wink left, he must have 5 to tie, 10 for victory,” the click, the arc, a bounce, a gasp, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.
Kick the Can was much looser, a forerunner of Hacky Sack, using a crumpled beer can (one always seemed to be on hand) instead of the small woven bags of today. There were no rules, just the joy of keeping the can in play.
I have never seen the Paper Wad Game played outside of Dan’s room. It was the only arena in the world for that sport, a combination of basketball and spitball, with someone’s open mouth as the net. Nobody wrote the rules; the game just happened by accident. We sat in the four corners of the room. You threw a paper wad at the wide open mouth of a person across the room. The “basket” could not flinch or turn away; that prompted a “foul shot” from short range. Early in the game, having the paper wad land in your open mouth was not a big deal. It tasted like paper. But after it had been in and out of a few mouths and rolled under Rick’s desk or Dan’s dresser, the stakes rose dramatically. People on the receiving end would actually tremble in anticipation. Rick Ward even closed his eyes, inviting the famous “alley oop” maneuver in which Dan threw the wad to me and I popped it in from close range. It was cruel, but funny, and we did it three times before he caught on. Midway through the game, we reversed the flow of the wad, and the victims took their revenge. You did not want to be sitting opposite anyone with a hot hand. Fortunately, beer took the taste of paper away, which, of course, is why we drank it.
What the games all had in common was that they didn’t cost any money, they didn’t require any special equipment or membership fees, and none of us had played them in high school, so we all had a chance. They took us away for a while, away from a world that might soon kill us, a real world just months, then weeks, then days away. My college girlfriend complained about the time I left her alone in my room, said I’d be right back, and she found me half an hour later playing Kick the Can in Dan’s room. The fact was, even then, I knew I would have time to spend with her, but my days of playing Kick the Can were running out.
:: Home Delivery ::
A college fraternity brother, who was going by “DT” in those days, told us that his parents had beer delivered right to their door, once a week, by the distributor. Iroquois Beer. Long necks, brown, deposit bottles. DT said that every Saturday morning his mother would put the last empty into the last case just as the delivery man was wheeling the new cases up the walk. We assumed the story was close to the truth, might even have happened that way once or twice, but… you know.
Two years later, the summer after graduation, in the lull between college and the Air Force, I drove over to Niagara Falls to pick up DT for a road trip. It was a warm, sunny, quiet, Saturday morning. Lovely day. I found the house and parked. As I approached the front door, DT’s mother stepped out onto the screened porch with an empty beer bottle in her hand. She greeted me warmly and turned to drop the empty into the last open spot in a case atop a stack of cases. I was stopped in my tracks as DT’s story came back to me, when I heard a voice at my back say, “Excuse me.” I whirled around, and it was a smiling delivery man with a hand truck loaded to the top with cases of beer. I blinked. He was not a mirage.
I never doubted DT again.
:: The Primper ::
Sometimes I think the most memorable moments in life are unplanned. And surely one of the best for me was the Night of the Primper. While in grad school, I lived on the third floor of Toad Hall, an apartment house on campus. One Friday afternoon, in a room down the hall, music was playing and people were chatting. The gathering blossomed into a casual party.
As dusk fell, the lights came on in the men’s dorm across the way and residents began preparing themselves for an evening on the town. Of course, most of the women on campus knew to close their curtains at this hour. Peeping Toms with binoculars, or even Questar telescopes (“Dad, I’m really interested in astronomy”), were often scanning the horizon for unguarded moments, delightful surprises, or perhaps that ‘once in a college career’ thunderbolt of an exhibitionist. But male students never thought anybody might be watching them, and so when one of the women in the room said, “Hey, I think that guy’s taking his clothes off,” we all turned to look and by gosh she was right. We also realized that the dorm had three floors, with eight rooms on each floor, and there was something going on in all 24 windows. It was better than cable TV.
As it was a young lady’s apartment, the gentlemen happily yielded the front row, and responded to the call for binoculars. In addition to optical aids, we also offered our considerable experience and mentored the neophytes, showing them how to rest on their elbows so the binoculars wouldn’t shake, prompted them to pull back and pan occasionally so as not to miss a better episode in another window, and explained peculiarly male behaviors and grooming rituals. The variety of viewing was marvelous. In one smoke-filled room, a beach ball traced lazy arcs through the upper atmosphere. In another, two furtive voyeurs zoomed in on our window and were shocked to discover a roomful of people with drinks waving back at them.
But the best display of the evening came from the Primper. “What’s he doing?” one woman asked, pointing out a young man wearing only a white towel. Ever the narrator, I said, “He’s getting ready to go out. He’s primping.” His work at the mirror continued with a complexion check, hair combing and a cologne splash, but then, oddly, he did not dress, but left the room, still in his towel. Ten minutes later, his hair wet from the shower, he returned and began getting ready all over again. “The Primper is back,” someone said, and while we watched, he repeated his routine. To our amazement, he left the room a third time, again with soap and shampoo. In all, he got ready to go out four times that night. But after the last shower and primp… he turned out the lights and went to bed.
At the time, we theorized he was too embarrassed to admit he didn’t have a date. But we will never know for sure. Perhaps he just loved the camaraderie of the showers, the scented steam, the sense of anticipation, the promise that hung in the air.