Landerholm tells these stories lovingly, with the perspective of age. He and Dean are fifth year seniors: "I remember our first week on campus, the fall of 78.1 had an old discus. We went to Hayward Field, in the twilight of an Indian summer day, and we threw. Neither of us weighed more than 200 pounds, and we were throwing about 140 feet. And we were talking about how great it was going to be to throw 200 feet and thinking about the meets we'd seen there.... God, that seems like a long time ago. That old, rotten disc, the stands there, the pink sky." The dreams.
"And now?" prompts his questioner.
"Well, now it's not as if it wasn't worth it," Landerholm continues. "It is great to throw 200. But I think we—throwers in general—are easily frustrated. It takes a special patience to gain the technique, yes, but there's a way in which you are never satisfied. It's like before the adrenaline gets going you feel normal. Then you get in the ring in competition, and you became a different person. Aggressive. Then you hit it, and you let out all this frustration.
"Dean and I have talked about it. At the end of a meet, you feel depressed. You've been erupting, and now you're down off that. And always, within an hour or two you feel you could do better. Even after Dean won the NCAAs he felt he could do better."
"That's the hook," says Dean. "But I have no fierce ambitions. I know I won't quit now, but I don't like the idea of it taking over my life. I asked Mac Wilkins once if he regretted putting all his effort into throwing for so many years—because it seems that to be the best you have to do that—and he said, 'You think that's bad?' And I said, 'Yes.' It's a tough question. Society says be the best if you can, but you can also say you're almost wasting the best years of your life on this narrow pursuit that doesn't mean that much. It's like a game that got out of hand...."
Dean is doing better in the sanitation department. He has paid his girl friend, Kathy Vallion, who is a nursing student, to clean his apartment so that he can have some guests in. He introduces her as Binky. Brian brings his friend, Lisa Bayer, who is majoring in sign language interpretation. Dean calls her Ms. Livingstone Hamster. Brian and Lisa met in high school. "I thought he was the ugliest guy on the football team," she says. "I guess I felt sorry for him. I knew if I didn't, nobody else would." Her abuse is softened by the way she keeps hugging him.
The room is dense with furniture, but nowhere is there a sign of the mushrooms once said to grow out of the carpet. Another storied inhabitant now lives with a teammate. He's Sick, the African cichlid. Dean tells the tale best:
"He's indestructible. He killed all the other fish in my aquarium. I only fed him pork chops. He lived in a bucket for a while, and then I fed him to some big bass and bluegills, but he killed them, too. Just pecked them to death. Last year in the apartment he lived in a cookie jar. We came home one night and found him on the floor, all dried and wrinkled. I could break off a piece of his tail. I was crushed, because I liked him by this time. I threw him in the aquarium and he sank, like a leaf. Then he started to expand and when he was back to full size he was alive!. I just know he's being saved for something special."
The room is dominated by Dean's fly-tying table, his materials arranged as they might be if a couple of chickens had just exploded. He has tied flies since junior high—all the brothers are accomplished fishermen. In fact, Dean was tying flies when the greatest practical joke in family history took place.
"Weekends Dean did yard work for an old lady," says Brian. "This was when he was about 15. He'd been all scared about nuclear stuff for some reason, and about Idi Amin in Uganda. So while he was at work, Mitch and I wrote this script and recorded a radio bulletin and wired the tape recorder to his radio switch in his room...."