- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"He's a man with knee britches and a tall conical hat with a buckle on it. People like him founded Harvard."
As I brooded in the stands it occurred to me that there seemed to be so much more that Yale had to offer an impressionable young girl. Their songs were better. The bulldog, while hardly a comfy sort of animal, was infinitely more pleasant to have around than a Puritan, and he enabled the Yale songs to have catchy lines like "Bow-wow-wow." Why couldn't Cole Porter (Yale '13), who had written so many of those gems while an undergraduate, have gone to Harvard? Why had Leonard Bernstein (Harvard '39) waited until West Side Story before doing his best? The Yale band was playing one of Cole Porter's most memorable tunes, March on Down the Field—and I realized with a start that I was singing along, my lips moving involuntarily.
It didn't turn out to be much of a day for Harvard. The wind, which remained brisk and into which yellow biplanes towing advertising messages above the stadium barely made headway, played havoc with the football—especially, it seemed to me, when Brian Buckley, the lefthanded Harvard quarterback, tried to pass or when the Crimson's kicker, Steve Flach, went back to punt. On the whole, the brand of football was spotty, as symbolized by a play midway in the game when Flach, back to punt, took a snap that skittered along the ground like a dog running for him, leaping at the last second for his chest and bouncing off. By the time Flach had the ball under control, the Yale line was on him. He took a feeble swipe at the ball—the kind an elderly aunt might aim at a terrier nipping at her feet—and missed it.
The Yale middle guard, Kevin Czinger, picked up the ball and started for the goal line. There wasn't a Harvard man within yards. A number of Yale men raced up to join Czinger, and it was while this pack of players was running unencumbered by anything more serious than a scrap of windblown paper scuttling across the field that Czinger suddenly went down as if he had run into a trip wire, apparently having stumbled over the heels of one of his teammates. A gasp went up in the stadium—not really of dismay from Yale fans or of relief from Harvard rooters, but at the realization, I think, that because the game was being telecast throughout the East, this dreadful pratfall was being beamed into any number of places—bars in Hoboken, N.J. or Erie, Pa., perhaps—where people were quite likely scornful of Ivy League football to begin with and where now, peering up at the TV screen at the end of the bar, they saw a Yale player, racing for the Harvard goal line with a football under his arm, surrounded by his fellows, suddenly stumble and collapse as if poleaxed. And they would never know that after the game it would be discovered that Czinger, far from having been tripped, had torn a back muscle.
The enormity of this, of course, was lost on Medora. I kept an eye on her. Every once in a while I caught her staring at the field in deep thought, lost in some internal consideration. Sometimes her lips moved slightly—a recitation of some sort and when she caught me looking at her, she would start and smile quickly, her eyes sparkling. Once she said, "Gee, Dad, that's great!" though I hadn't said anything to elicit such a remark. She had her mind on something.
"What do you think of it?" I asked.
"I think my hiccups are coming back," she said, but she seemed to offer it as an afterthought, rather than what was really on her mind.
I had spent much of the first half attempting to explain the meaning of third down and 10. My father has always said that there are two things that women, however brilliant, fail with great charm to understand: one is the International Date Line, the other is third and 10. "Ask Lillian Hellman about third and 10," he once said abruptly at lunch. "See what you get." I never did that, but Medora certainly did nothing to suggest my father's theory was in error. "I like it better when they kick," she said. "Why can't they kick all the time? My friend at school told me that they have 60 footballs for each game. They keep them in sacks."
Could she have been thinking of baseballs? I said, "That seems like an awful lot of footballs."
"Oh, no," she said positively. "You wait and see."