You would think from my columns that I hang out at the Fraternity house almost as much as when I was an undergraduate, but the truth is that this past Homecoming was the first time I had been back in years. You guys have gotten old. With minor exceptions, I, on the other hand, am indistinguishable from my 19-year-old self, those minor exceptions being my wrinkled, balding gray head covered with liver spots, my paunch, my creaky joints, and my inability to stay awake past 10. If I talked to you and smiled when you told me how horribly your life has turned out, don’t despair – I’m also going deaf, so it’s nothing personal.
Dick Carrington displayed his boyish charm at Homecoming, then took a turn for the geezer when he got blood clots on the flight back to San Francisco. A few days in the hospital straightened him out. He figured out when the nursing shift changes were, and used the opportunity to break into the medication carts. He thought he was getting clinical grade smack, but it turned out to be an industrial strength laxative. Never one to waste an opportunity, he baked it into cookies he donated to the senior center in his neighborhood. Hilarity ensued.
Brothers from the ‘70s and ‘80s classes were there in force. (As always, if I leave you out, don’t contact me, because I don’t care. This is not third grade. You won’t be getting a trophy, either.) Mark Martin can still bench press your house, so try not to piss him off. Bob Forness spends the work week in Bermuda, and weekends moving into his new estate in Pennsylvania – you really should have treated him better when he was a pledge. Bill Page and Ed Catto got drunk at the Friday night party and tried to get a coed to play “Come in, Rangoon.” Said coed turned out to be Nate Rudgers’ daughter, so she was wise to the ploy; she smiled demurely, and kneed them in their respective groins. Ed and Bill needed medical care, but the only doctor around was John Olsewski, so we dragged them out on the porch to suffer out of earshot. Incidentally, Johnny O’s daughter is a Cornellian, but she spent the entire weekend avoiding him and us, so we never determined that, in fact, she exists.
Neil Best asked me to help convince his daughter, Simi, that Cornell is the university she should attend, she being a smart and discerning high schooler. When she was small, she idolized me as a god, but she’s at the age at which friends of parents are on par with road-kill, and if the road-kill has had a couple of beers and intersperses his ramblings with tales of Fraternity hijinx involving police cars and intestinal gas, then maybe it’s best to go to Brown. Which is where she wants to go, thanks to yours truly. I used to be better at this.
I rarely venture into serious topics, but something happened leading up to Homecoming that could have been tragic, had not brothers jumped to the rescue. I speak of an unfortunate email sent by Brother Rockford to me, Bjork, Eno, Casey, Wes, Lowie, Fid, and many, many others. While packing for the trip to Ithaca, Rock wrote – you should probably ask the kids to leave the room, and for crying out loud, sit down – “What are people wearing to the BBQ tomorrow night? I am thinking jeans, sneakers and a golf shirt.” Fortunately, many of us instantly chimed in and ridiculed him mercilessly, bringing him back to earth. But what if we hadn’t been there for Rock? He could have glided smoothly into a discussion of window treatments and furniture placement. He could have lapsed into raving about his bitchy manicurist and the scourge of uncomfortable shoes. Gentlemen, we are Pikes. If you feel isolated and out of touch, pick up the phone and call a fratboy. Go through that box of old pictures in the junk closet and dig out the snap of yourself from sophomore year with underpants on your head and a six pack of Genny Cream hanging from your belt. Scratch your nuts and think of Gibber. But don’t make us come to your house with chloroform and a pillow, especially if you are still an active dues-payer.