Dik's Ravings

Dik Saalfeld '80
Washington correspondent
Spring 2009

Jeff Lowe and I had dinner with Zulu Rosenberg and his wife, Coleen, whom I had never met. You know that dowdy Scotswoman who rocketed to instant fame singing a show tune? Coleen and her are completely different species. Coleen’s hotter than Georgia asphalt. I tried to figure out how to give her an impromptu eye test, given that she’s married to Zulu, but I couldn’t do it inconspicuously. She didn’t have a laugh like a donkey, and she didn’t smell bad. She’s smart and has a sense of humor. She appears not to be completely insane. Love is a funny thing.

Bob “Monti” Montione, his wife, Jenny Mosher, and their two kids, Allison and Justin, spent a couple of days here in DC doing the museum and monuments thing. The kids are teens but have none of the snarky traits common to the breed. They don’t pout, raise their voices, whine, or otherwise make you want to clobber them. They are unfailingly kind and polite. On top of this, they’re wise beyond their years. It’s tough for a jaded curmudgeon to encounter kids who explode the stereotypes. I was way out of my comfort zone.

Meanwhile, Anne Ruhman, wife of Bill Webster, chaperoned one of their boys and the rest of a busload of adolescents on a Trash the Monuments tour of DC. When she called me to say the bus had just arrived in town, all I could hear was screaming, weeping, and the rending of garments. I couldn’t hear the kids at all. Anne and the other chaperones went through a case of gin in two afternoons, which sounds like a lot until you realize there were three of them. Anne can teach us about moderation and restraint, although the restraint used up quite a bit of duct tape.

Nate Rudgers remarried recently. Her name’s Eileen, but he didn’t let me meet her first, so I’ve got nothing juicy. I took a shot in the dark and asked Nate if she only had one leg, but he knows all of those jokes and he shut me down. You know the jokes I mean: What do you call a woman with a wooden leg? Eileen. What do you call a Japanese woman with a wooden leg? Irene. It turns out if you tell these jokes at your Federal Government work site, you have to take sensitivity training. They don’t serve doughnuts at the training sessions, either, and you have to bring your own coffee. Fortunately, I have a Thermos. One of the speakers had a nice rack on her.

Mark 'Taz' Ochs’ wife, Mary, was recently appointed Director of Mann Library, which prompted Mark to comment that he’s looking forward to early retirement. The library was recently renovated – you wouldn’t recognize it – and it’s the happening place on campus these days. If you go to the Mann Library website, there’s a picture of Mary, who hasn’t changed a bit. Taz, meanwhile, still plays with dirt for a living. He’s the poster child for marrying up. Taz, Mary, and the rest of the Class of ’79 are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their release from Cornell, June 4-6. Elsewhere in this rag should be news of the annual Reunion wine and cheese soiree Saturday, June 6, at the fratlodge.

Speaking of Pikes marrying up, my own wife, Kelley Phillips, accompanied me on a trip to French Polynesia this past winter. We sailed on a barque and visited Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Bora Bora, and other islands. Before we went I had the naïve impression that the islands were paradise, and that you could spend your life living on the beach eating breadfruit, pineapples, fish and whatnot without a care in the world. I was right. Plus, the Polynesians participate in the French social welfare system, so they get free health care and the buses only run one day a year.

Tom Sporney's an aficionado of the ponies. He's got a boatload of money on "I'm a Loser" to win the Triple Crown this year. If Tom scores big, somebody's going to have to take over publishing this newsletter, as he plans on developing a taste for 40 year old bourbon which he will drink on his Caribbean island. If he loses, he's got all of your addresses. This would be a perfect time to spring for Caller ID. He is in the 410 area code. You've been warned.

Speaking of caller ID, Monti revealed that until very recently he was probably the last person in America still on a party line. (If you don't get the connection, or you don't even know what I'm talking about, it's because you are under 50 years old and don't know that if you picked up on a party line and didn't want to talk to the person on the other end, you could simply claim to be a neighbor who answered on the wrong ring. This was back when phones were black and were wired into the wall. After Armageddon, these phones will be the last man-made things left.) Monti lives in the howling wilderness. He saw a rabid raccoon in his back yard recently. I asked him if he called the cops. He looked at me like I was speaking in tongues. "I shot it," he said. "Then I finished my beer."

So let us all finish our beers, and remember the words of the great philosopher, Alfred E. Newman: "You can marry more money in 20 minutes than you can make in your entire life."