Derek Bok sat down to dinner at Elmwood Monday night, grateful for his daily bread. His daily bread brought to mind his breakfast table daily, to which he affectionately refers as "The Crime."
Munching a tasty morsel of union lettuce (thousand island dressing), he pondered the strange twists of fate which had stayed his rag-tag troops from victory and thrust them into ignominious defeat at the hands of The Crime on two previous occasions.
There was the famous first meeting, nearly a year ago to the day, when he and his troops -- Box Jox -- had dazzled photographers, reporters and filmmakers from every corner of the nation, only to see The Crime streak to its 299th consecutive 23-2 football victory.
And then the infamous rematch in March, when months of preparation had gone awry, and when, with an excrutiating stretch and pop. Harvard's mightiest administrator had stumbled to the hardwood, the victim of an unattached gastroenemius tendon.
Achilles had gone much the same way. Charles U. Daly -- the man who took the addidas from El Hefe's wounded wing but could not fill the bill -- predicted a return by softball season. It was not to be. The Crime won on the court and the diamond alike, by coincidental 23-2 margins.
But now, with only five days remaining until the gridiron meeting that would surely rattle the foundation of the New York Times Sports Cube, the man who only six months before had described his heel chord as "a soft jelly mass" was ready to go. His heel was ready. His arm was ready. His mind was ready.
He put down his fork. "Sissela," he queried gently, "can I play touch football against The Crime on Saturday?"
"Do you still love me?" she queried in return.
"Why, of course," he said, wondering about the pertinence of their romance at this moment of decision.
"Do you want to stay married to me," she asked again.
"What a silly question," he returned with dismay.
"Then don't go near that football field or those two-bit delivery boys who can't play a gentlemanly game of basketball."
Silence draped the room. Little Hillary and three-year-old Thomas shot an ironic glance across the table. They knew the score.
"Can I just coach from the sidelines?" the President urged.
Sensing a chance at compromise -- a trait well developed in her spouse -- she cooed, "Certainly, dear, just be careful if that silly Chuck Daly decides to punish someone out of bounds."
And that, perhaps better than any single statement, sets the tone of this morning's all-important contest behind the Stadium. The Administration's chances rest entirely on its ability to roll with the punches.
Despite a covey of ringers reported to be in the Jox lineup. Crime captain Deac "Pique" Dake was calm yesterday. "Oh, really," he muttered. "How can they expect to win when we've got an all-state quarterback, an all-state split end and God on our side?"
Dake will be in the starting lineup along with Bullet Mike O'Rourke, Hurry Hurt. J. Anthony Hill III. Doug "Gnaw and Gnash" Schoen, player-coach R. Decherd. Tinker Lindsay and Susan Kinsley times 1.5 to achieve a nearperfect 2.5589 to 1 ratio.
The Administration can claim no such mathematical advantage. Predictably, their starting card will be all-male, despite the best of recruiting efforts of Dr. Chase N. Peterson '52, the former dean of admissions, over the past two weeks.
"Somehow losing to The Crime just doesn't have the same appeal as getting to Harvard in the first place." Peterson said glumly after an excrutiating practice session last night. "I suppose we'll have to think up some twisted justification of our losing tradition to elevate potential players to a more cosmic, and ultimately rewarding, sphere."