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The game ended. The spectators in the Yale stands counted down the last seconds and the gun went off. I took Medora down to the field so we could hear the Harvard band and see what the field was like after it had been kicked up by the players' cleats, and I eased her up to a Harvard player standing with his parents so she could see how large he was. A faint odor of liniment and grass drifted off him. She peered at the eyeblack above his cheekbones as if she were inspecting a painting. He must have felt embarrassed under her scrutiny. He turned away. I heard him say to one of his group, "Thank God, Priscilla didn't come. You say she's up at Dartmouth. What's she doing up there?"
Medora asked about his eyes. I told her that athletes often wore eyeblack to cut down the sun's glare. She said it made them look neat, like Indians. Did the Yale players wear the stuff, too? Oh yes, I said. She announced that she thought she might wear it out on her Sunfish—the glare was just terrific off the water.
We slowly headed out of the stadium, Medora holding my hand. I commented to her that at times during the game she had seemed distracted. Was something on her mind? Had she had a good time?
"Oh, Dad, it was great," she said. "I liked the story about the pigeon. I wish you could remember if he went across the goal line."
We crossed the Anderson Bridge and walked up Boylston Street past the Houses. I pointed out the windows of the Eliot House room where I had lived. Someone had hung a hastily lettered sheet out the row of windows below. SO WHAT IF YOU WON, the message read. YOU STILL GO TO YALE."
"Six U.S. presidents went to Harvard," I found myself saying to Medora as we strolled along. "William Howard Taft was the only one to come out of Yale, if you don't count Gerald Ford, who went to the law school there, and Taft was such an enormously fat man that they had to enlarge the doors of the White House to get his bathtub inside. Did I tell you that Harvard was founded 140 years before the Declaration of Independence?"
"Yes, Dad, you did."
I took her to some postgame parties. We went to the Lampoon building where in the crowded Gothic hall I pointed to a suit of Japanese armor hanging on the wall and told her I had worn it in a curious baseball game against The Harvard Crimson, the undergraduate newspaper. The Lampoon was famous for its high jinks. A couple of years after I'd left, the editors had plotted to steal a battleship out of Boston Harbor. "They only had men on the board then," I told Medora. "Now they accept women. You could be the editor. You could plot to steal a battleship." I twirled the ice in my drink. It was my third. She stood, a diminutive form beside me, in the crush of the cocktail party. An undergraduate editor of the Lampoon turned up. I told him that I had admired the game-program parody; I had been reminded that we had done one like it when I was an undergraduate. In fact, I could remember editing an article entitled, Why Harvard Will Not Go to the Rose Bowl This Year, one of the reasons being, as I recalled, that California was "in some kind of time zone."
The undergraduate looked at me gravely over his plastic glass. "Fun-nee," he said without a smile.
It was dark when we left. We walked past Lowell House. I pointed up to the belfry. I told her the bells would be pealing if Harvard had won. They made a wonderful racket. In fact, the bells were something of a neighborhood nuisance because they were so loud; the person playing them sometimes got mixed up so that it sounded as if the bells were tumbling down a rock slide. The Cambridge citizens complained. In fact, they threatened to shut down the bells. I told Medora that in revenge the great Lowell House legend was that all the people who lived there synchronized their watches and simultaneously flushed every toilet in the place.