"I won't play unless I can be quarterback," says Dean in a petulant child's voice.
"Do you like to hit people?" asks a visitor.
"Just Brian. And my mom."
The Crousers are defined by this happy ability to alternate intense concentration with frolic. "I think they're so good at competition because those easygoing ways don't let things get to them," Burton says.
He believes this to be America's gift to its throwers. "We hold our own with Europe, where the track coaching systems are more organized and scientific, because we're fresher," he says. "The U.S.S.R. and G.D.R. guys never get away from their coaches. They can't talk to people. It gets to be like a job. Wolfgang Schmidt, the East German world-record holder in the discus, apparently made some envious remarks about Western throwers' freedoms, and after that was prohibited from competing outside Eastern Bloc countries. Think of the pressure you'd feel knowing that would happen if you didn't perform well or toe the line. No, I'm not sure if the talent is better here or there, but the freshness is here."
That's a strictly metaphorical kind of freshness. Its manifestation, in Dean's case, can be, uh, gross. "Our room freshman year," says Landerholm, "was so messy that we had to push down on the pile between the two beds to see each other."
"Pile of what?"
"Clothes, mostly, but at the end of the year they turned out to be composted with chicken bones and orange peels."
That was just preliminary messiness. "We peaked our third year," says Landerholm, "when we shared an apartment with Eric Hohn [who threw the hammer 190'5" in 1981]. Dean called him Eunice, which he hated. So Dean switched to Natasha. Anyway, that apartment generated its own heat from the garbage. Clothes flowed down tributaries from the bedrooms and bathroom into the hall and living room. Once I was reading on the couch, and I looked down by my elbow and saw these eyes, like a crocodile's, rising from the swamp. It was Dean. He had sneaked up on me by tunneling under the clothes."
Landerholm recounts the pranks that any imaginative college student pulls or is victimized by, but in the Crousers' case, they strike an idyllic tone, less manic or vindictive than pastoral. "There was our lighter-fluid phase," he says. "We did Bowling with Fire [flaming bowling balls sent rumbling down the residence corridors] or Names in Flames [Dean's favorites in fiery script on brick walls]. Once Landerholm loaded the hot-air hand dryer in the residence hall bathroom with yeast powder, knowing that Dean was in the habit of drying his hair with it. "Got some innocent guy instead. It worked fine. Blasted burned yeast all over his chest."