Dik's Ravings

Dik Saalfeld '80
Washington correspondent
Fall 2010

The Royal Palm Tavern in Collegetown, site of much debauchery and drunkenness, land of cheap basement shelf booze and a stale beer smell that clung to your very soulů let's stop here. Admit it - you thought I was going to say it burned to the ground, or was closed by the health department. The fact is it's still open and hasn't changed in any way whatsoever in at least the last 35 years. The 1940s-era mural is still on the wall, the gouged tables are still there, and some of the liqueurs are veterans of Vietnam homecoming parties. Who drinks that crap? Walk into the Palms and order a Grasshopper and the bartender would just as soon belt you in the chops as turn around and grab the bottle of green sludge that has been sitting there since God was in knee pants.

Anyway, Donzo, Monti, me, Tom Berg, Johnny O, Friggy, Jodi Nestle and assorted hangers-on quaffed a few at the Palms during our Reunion in June. Nostalgia only goes so far, and after a round or two we repaired to the friendlier C-house, formerly Jim's Place, for more beer. The C-house still has pictures of us on the walls, in which we have much more hair. From there we went to a nearby boarding house for a reception hosted by Dave Miles and Ken Hull. Dave and Ken had been huffing dry cleaning fluid in the parking lot so they weren't fit for polite company, but I did have the opportunity to talk to some other Pikes, including John Ramsey, who, in 25 years, has only gained one pound, due mostly to wearing shoes with thicker soles. Ed Catto has ditched meaningful work to enter the field of comic books, which would have caused much ridicule had we not been seething in envy.

I saw John Bickerman at a Nationals baseball game here in Washington over the summer. He looked fit, but I can't report on his life of late because we were separated by 18 squillion people and he didn't see me. If he reads this, it's the first he's heard of it. John is in the lucrative field of dispute resolution. It's a way to settle scores without guns or suing the pants off of people. He may not know this, but he made the online version of the Washington Post once when somebody pointed out that the most famous dispute resolver of our time is a man named Bickerman. Here's a funny Bickerman story: Doug Wright and I drove to Madison, Wisconsin, for Jim Kopp's wedding back in the '70s. We stayed at Kopp's house, and Hotelies Doug and Jim taught history major Dik how to make Eggs Benedict. It was an arduous process of clarifying butter, heating ham, baking English muffins, and separating eggs. You have to use just the right amount of heat, and you have to whip the eggs just so. Do not let the yolks coagulate! After this PhD level activity, I heard Bickerman talking to his girlfriend on the phone - he was telling her about breakfast - "we had Egg McMuffin!" I had to forcibly remove the cleaver from Doug's fist.

Speaking of Jim Kopp, how many people do you suppose are named Kopp? He married one of them. Yup, her maiden name was Kopp. They split up. I'm not mentioning her first name, because I heard she turned out to be mad as a hatter, and the last thing I need is for some crazed Kopp-Kopp to come pounding at my door. It's the stuff of nightmares.

Speaking of Jim Kopp's phone - I am nothing if not creative in my segues - Doug and I were nursing hangovers the morning after we drove to Wisconsin in a previous paragraph. We were draped over various pieces of furniture. The phone kept ringing - it was one of those hard-wired black dial things you couldn't unplug or stop except by answering it - so Doug tossed me a revolver and said "Dik, shoot the phone." So I did. Black bakelite flew all over the place, but the goddamn thing didn't stop ringing. Jim, who was in the other room, finally answered it, not knowing that it had fallen victim to my deadly aim. He was getting married that day and had to deal with in-laws. He kept looking through the phone with alarm. It amused Doug and I so much that we forgot our hangovers and headed out into the yard to skeet-shoot holes in Jim's Kiss records. One would toss records in the air, and the other would blast away: "pull!" Kids these days don't know how to have fun. Later, at the reception, we Pikes tossed Jim into the swimming pool. He thought it was a scream because, after all, the tux was rented. The in-laws were ashen, but they weren't as drunk as we were.

Whoa! Look at the time. Where are my meds?