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Petering Out

The Ivy Opener


On his right two alumni (Class of 48) were reaching nirvana as the band blared into the last refrain of "Ten Thousand Men of Harvard" They fervently nodded approval and murmured emphatically "want victory today" as the band concluded. Trevor hadn't given it much thought when he agreed to go to the year's first Ivy League game at the Stadium. But he didn't expect it would be quite like this. "Where do they get these characters" he asked his roommate who was much worldher in such matters than he "Oh, they dredge them up from the alumni register", he was told sardonically. "It's the ghost of Harvard past."

Trevor had to think about that for a while, so he cut short his roommates dissertation on alumni and looked over the scene. Down on the playing surface, the offense was marching down the field toward what appeared to be an inevitable touchdown. Wheeler in motion, DeMars bucked through the guard hole for a seven-yard gain. "So that's the Restic multiple offense," Trevor thought. "Whew" There was awe in his sigh. The diehard football enthusiasts were sitting up close to the action, so as not to miss a play, or even a signal. Trevor could pick them out by the crimson nylon jackets and the six packs of beer. He could hear them screaming lusty cheers: "Fuck em up. Fuck um up, Beat their ass!" He didn't remember football being quite like this back in Maine.

Sitting on the 40-yard line, about two-thirds of the way up were a group of immaculately dressed girls. "Who are they?" Trevor asked. "They come to watch people in the stands," he was told. "They don't give a damn about football." Harvard scored a touchdown on a 10-yard pass. Crone to Bone, and converted the extra point to take a 7-3 lead. The band broke into "Ten Thousand Men" again. The alumni sighed. No one else, save the crimson jacketed brigade down on the front lines (who broke out another six-pack), seemed to notice. They didn't seem to mind that they hadn't noticed either.

"What About the Game?"

The game meandered on toward halftime. Trevor looked around some more. Up along the colonnade a wineskin was making a pilgrimage down the line of spectators. Closely on its heels followed a minute orange beacon, hung in smoke, making its way from hand to hand. "What's going on here?" he asked. "Well...." His roommate paused. "They're passing the time until the halftime show." "But what about the game?" "What about it?"

Harvard finally ran out the clock and retired to the locker room. The environment around Trevor came to life. Cornell's Big Red marching band strutted onto the field. "Wow!" Trevor thought. "This is just like halftime on TV." The neighboring observers didn't share Trevor's enthusiasm. "Bush league--get these jerks off!" they shouted as the band dog-trotted through its geometry. The Big Red swelled into a moving rendition of the Cornell alma mater. "Nice," thought Trevor. "Yeecch!" coughed someone behind him, spitting Tawny Port down the back of Trevor's neck.

The Harvard band ambled onto the field. "All ri-i-ight" roared the Harvard partisans. Bang. The band ran in every direction. "Are they supposed to do that?" Trevor asked. "Watch," his worldly colleague answered.

The casual musicians stopped in mid-scatter and formed a word. They played a few bars of a song. Bang. They scattered into another word. Another few bars. Bang. They scattered again and ran back into the stands. "Is that it?" Trevor asked in disbelief. "Yeah, wasn't it great?" Trevor didn't answer. He sighed. He evidently didn't think so.

The third period action rapidly ground to a standstill down on the field, so Trevor amused himself by looking at the band. They were drinking and leching and trying to outblare their Big Red counterparts. The Cornell band played a Harvard band routine. The Harvard people hissed. The Harvard band played the same routine, with gusto and extraordinary flourishes. The Cornell band played it too. The Harvard band played the "Mickey Mouse Theme Song." The Cornell band followed. "Boy are they bush," grumbled a disgruntled voice two rows back. "What's the score?" asked Trevor. "Who knows?" three people said together.

The last quarter, despite the fact that Harvard was pushing people around (or so the paper said the next day), was spent watching the Harvard drum bearers trying to abscond with the Cornell cheerleaders. The cheerleaders were willing and the crowd roared. Trevor watched with interest as the band ogled the cheerleaders. "Why do they do it?" he asked, this time to no one in particular "Because this is Harvard," his roommate answered with disgust. "Oh."

The game ended and Harvard won. Trevor wanted to know what would happen next. "We're going to a party." "What was the final score." "I don't know. We won. That's enough After all, this is Harvard."

Trevor sighed

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