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Medora Goes to The Game
George Plimpton
November 16, 1981
With an ulterior motive, the author took his 9-year-old daughter to see Harvard play Yale, and may have learned more about her that day than she did about football
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November 16, 1981

Medora Goes To The Game

With an ulterior motive, the author took his 9-year-old daughter to see Harvard play Yale, and may have learned more about her that day than she did about football

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"Perhaps you could do an extra on the Harvard-Yale game," I suggested as Medora returned the newspaper to the bag. She said she would discuss it with her co-editor.

She had brought along some good-luck tokens she showed me—a stuffed koala bear in a miniature straw basket suspended by a ribbon from her neck. The bear was nestled on crumpled-up pieces of Kleenex—"to make him comfortable," Medora said. She took him out to show him to me, revolving him solemnly between thumb and forefinger before returning him to the basket. "I hope he's the right one," she said. "I have another one, which looks exactly the same, who is bad luck."

"How do you tell them apart?" I asked.

"If I have really bad luck," she explained, "I know I've got the wrong one with me."

"Perhaps you could throw that one away," I suggested

"It's better not to," she replied. "In case the other is really bad luck."

She then showed me an ivory whistle made of two intertwined fish. She said if the Yale players heard it they would, as she put it, "shrivel."

The day in Boston was brilliant and cold; the wind ruffled the surface of the Charles as we drove beside it in a taxi from the airport. I said that in the spring the crews came out on the river—"Eight men in a line, one rowing behind the other. The boats they row in are as thin as pencils," I said, trying to be graphic. "They're called shells." Medora tried to look suave at this explanation. What an enormous amount of odd pursuits there were in the world, I thought, and how difficult it was to make sense of them to a 9-year-old. We saw a number of sights that required my saying something about them—the scrum of a rugby game on the lawn of the Harvard Business School, the tailgaters along the banks of the river—"drinking cocktails out of the back of their cars," was how I tried to describe it—the gay activist contingents chanting at the gates of Soldiers Field, the first raccoon coats she had ever seen.

We got out at Harvard Square. I had time before the game to show her part of the college We wandered along the walks. I tried to think what would give her a sense of the history and the character of the university and yet would he interesting to someone infatuated with horses and sailboats. As we walked through the gates into Harvard Yard I said that I remembered that the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric was by tradition allowed to graze a cow in the Yard, though no holder of that position had been known to avail himself of the privilege. Professors rarely came with cows Medora seemed especially interested Was it possible to graze a horse in the Yard? she wished to know And what about birds?" she asked. "If I go to Harvard will I he able to bring Tiffany?" Tiffany is her parrakeet. My heart jumped at her mention of the college. I said I was sure it could he arranged.

We started for Harvard Stadium. I bought her a wool Harvard cap and a large red BEAT YALE button. She exchanged the red hat for the blue one she had been wearing, but she dropped the button into her shoulder bag. I shrugged Perhaps it was too big for her tastes. Outside the stadium I bought a Harvard banner and a game program.

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