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Soy, Kidney, Jelly, Lima, Orson

Savoir-Faire on Beans

By Michael K. Savit

[Instructions--This is the first page of a five page column, of which I've written four. You will have three hours to read it, your Crimsons will be collected at 12:19 regardless of whether or not you have finished, and no one may leave his/her seat until 90 minutes have elapsed.

All books, notes and Hong Kong combination platters should be discarded. If anyone needs another paper, please raise your left hand. If you have to go to the bathroom before the allotted break, tough. Only #2 eyes are to be used for this reading. Unless there are any further questions, which there shouldn't be since I've already told you everything you need to know, you may break the seal and begin.]

We're talking about the first two Mondays in February, about over-priced beer in undernourished containers, about the closest thing to summit talks between Harvard, B.C., B.U. and Northeastern. We're talking about last night at a wild Boston Garden, about a Green Line that turned people into sardines, about the 25th rendition of the Beanpot hockey tournament. Mostly, though, we're talking about BEANS.

Yes, beans, the Rodney Dangerfield of the legume family. They just don't get no respect. Their appearance at the dinner table inevitably results in guilty faces and bad poetry. And then there's the wise guy who always brings up Alex Karras's role in Blazing Saddles.

If only beans were like professors. Then they could go on leave and we'd see how much we miss them. After all, where would green, kidney, jelly, franks and, lima, chili and Orson be without beans backing them up? Or how about bag, ball, pole, stalk or Cecil without beans leading the way? Jack and the Stalk just wouldn't have made it.

Which brings us back to last night at the Garden and the first round of the Beanpot. It's not the Pot tourney, although the performance of some of the participants did lead one to believe that they were higher than the Celtics' World Championship flags which dangle from the rat-infested rafters.

On the contrary, it's the Beanpot, as in the "edible, smooth, kidney-shaped seed of certain plants of the legume or pea family" (Webster, Daniel, "Dictionary," World Publishing Co., New York, 1968, p. 128).

It has been that way since 1952, when Harvard triumphed in the first Beanpot tourney at the Boston Arena. After a year's sabbatical, the competition resumed in 1954 at the Garden, where it has since remained.

In that quarter-century span, which has seen the Crimson capture six titles (B.C. and B.U. have nine apiece, while Northeastern has had a good time), the tournament has never been referred to as the Carrotpot, nor the Spinachpot, nor even the Asparaguspot.

It has always been and forever will be the Beanpot, a fact which may mean little to those of you who got in here on geographical distribution. To those who grew up listening to Joe Greene's traffic reports, au contraire, beans are as much a part of our heritage as hourlies and Howie Cunningham.

Why these poor little beans suffer such abuse is anybody's guess. Is it their size? Their curves? Color? Cut it out, this isn't Three On A Match.

Whatever be the truth, it's a shame that this gourmand's delight and the namesake of this country's finest collegiate hockey tourney has to be subjected to such maltreatment. While the time for apology is long past, it's still not too late. Beans are forgiving legumes--they live for more than just revenge and motorcycles.

So the next time you're served beans, take a close look. Think of last year's Beanpot, contested the day before you had an English final, and think of how you had to memorize Civil Disobedience in the men's room at the Garden (that rustle was Thoreau doing chin-ups in his grave). We're talking about a fond memory. We're talking about one hell of a legume. We're talking about BEANS.

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