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Few people believed Billy Pilgrim actually went to the planet of Trafalmadore and I doubt if many more will believe that I have lived among the Yalies. But I have, and may someday write a book about it, though I am neither Gulliver nor Herodetus. Suffice it here to note a singular occupational Harvard for a Harvardman at Yale: showing one's true colors. Examples follow.
I wanted good seats for The Game in '67 and the Yale faculty gets royal preference. So there I am on the fifty-yard line, surrounded by nobility, eminence and high-grade boons. Meanwhile on the playing held. Brian Dowling is hitting Calvin Hill with some incredible seventy-yard passes. But a Harvard upset looms. Ric Zimmerman too is connecting with long-distance bombs. I lose control, I stand, I shout for Harvard. Two rows above, my action unhinges a normally normal academic. He swings his umbrella and I almost become the first decapitation in Yale Bowl. Very funny. Still worse I can't retaliate since the guy is a full professor. Ho ho.
And yet it is always hard to root against your own students. Thus in a subsequent year. I want Harvard to win, but Yale quarterback Joe Massey '71 in the star of my Latin class. What to do? Needless to say after the umbrella incident I am sitting on the Harvard side again. But now a shout for Joe might provoke my beloved confreres. How about an exhortation Latina voce? Negative. Suppose John Finley is nearby. Or Glen Bowersock. Or the Pope. I fear not violence, but some Ciceronian distribe nailed to the Field House door: te in Orcum demittimus--vale Segale! No, discretion bids me clam up and pray that the Harvard tacklers leave Joe's conjugations intact.
"Let's not try to injure them"
Tom Lehrer '4"
Still I once did publically root for a Yale. Because he was my student, of course. Last September as Frank Shorter entered the stadium en route to Olympic triumph. I allowed a passionate phrase to escape the barrier of my teeth. It was something pithy along the lines of "go" or "rah." I forget exactly what, since the moment is enveloped in high emotion. I think Frank deserved this encouragement because he had beaten the world--though he could never beat Harvard. Indeed I had countless times watched Doug Hardin '68 whip his ass in H.Y. competition. But Hardin retired to play the cello and now Shorter was free to pursue athletic success, which is what some people consider an Olympic title to be.
As a hot-shot TV commentator, I felt obliged to remind Frank of the curious paradox. Indeed, I socked it to him Hardin fast. Strange, the network cut this part of our conversation from its broadcast. Now I would never allege managed news or any such nefariously evil skullduggery. And yet there is the coincidence that the Assistant to the President of ABC Sports is one Dick Ebersol, Yale '69, classmate of F. Shorter. But sooner or later the truth will out in the Crimson. Today's the day.
One extremely deep philosophical truth (second only to the ultimate meaning of life) is the fact that now and again Yale seems to beat Harvard on the gridiron. Or more accurately stated. Yale sometimes amasses a greater point total. As far as actual victory or defeat is concerned it is all, as Mr. George Harrison has observed, in the mind.
Remember that this evening in some Yale outscores this afternoon.
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