6 a.m., Friday.
Cold, damp, gray. The seat is too small and already I feel the circulation
going out of my legs. Knees all jammed up. Damn buses. We are over the rear
wheels, so that there are a lot of bumps, and there is a draft from the closed
window seeping in on my neck.
The upholstery is
a dirty green. The seats don't recline, and our oars are piled in the aisle, so
that it is impossible to stretch our legs out. John Young is sitting beside me.
Hair disheveled, tie askew, snoring. Up in the front of the bus Coolidge (the
varsity coach) and Freddie (our coach) are talking. Too far away to hear what
they're saying. I doze. 6:30 a.m. The rolling Massachusetts countryside. Stone
walls. I know the road pretty well as far as Worcester. The bus is coming to
life. Laughter from the front. Young wakes up, brushes the hair from his eyes.
Grins. "What a day!"
more hours or so," I say, "and lunch."
Neither one of us will be able to eat lunch, because we have to make weight. We
are the two heaviest men in the freshman lightweights. "What'd you weigh
out last night?" asks Young.
Only two to go, but I had some dinner."
"I was 58.
You got no problems at all, kid. No problems at all."
Each one of us is
assigned a specific weight in order to make the boat average 150. The maximum
for an individual is 155, but the boat must average 150. I am supposed to weigh
I try to shut the
window tighter, but the draft persists. Ned Cabot, our cox, is across the aisle
from us. We rowed together for two years in prep school. "Hey,
Babbitt," I say. A private nickname. His mouth is open. "Hey, Babu,
come to." No response. He is wearing sunglasses. "Let him sleep,"
Young says. "It's a long way to Ithaca."
Cabot is very
good-natured about being a Cabot, and I like him for it. Our coach, Freddie, is
a Cabot too. Second cousins. Also we have Theodore Roosevelt IV. The stroke is
from Texas, and I do not think he had ever seen a body of water bigger than a
stock tank before he came to Cambridge.
9 a.m. We stop at
a Howard Johnson's. Almost everyone gets off. People have to climb over the
backs of the seats to avoid stepping on the oars. "Get me some Juicy Fruit,
will you?" I say to Young.