Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chapter 12 - M-A-D! D-O-G!

The Boys in the Boathouse
A Novel -- really, none of this ever happened -- by Dr. Frank Emfbo

Chapter Twelve 
M-A-D! D-O-G!

Dik strode purposefully, resolutely, from his office to face us. He stood staring at us all, stinking pissed. Just moments earlier we'd heard him shout "goddammit!" and slam the phone down. At 6am on a Monday, that particular Monday, this could only mean one thing.

"You fuckers have done it this time. I was sitting in the press box on Saturday watching the fucking freak show. Your freak show. I was there to watch a football game and ended up watching you instead. The Athletic Director was right next to me. When his hands weren’t shaking, he had a pair of binoculars on ALL YOU FUCKING IDIOTS! You think puking on people and acting like fucking apes is funny? Fucking funny? You have disgraced this program! You have put the entire future of this team and its legacy of seventy-five years of excellence at risk! God damn you! I was told... I was told..." Dik was quivering with rage. "I was told that if I don't cut every one of you fuckers that was responsible for this mess..."

Dik looked at the parquet squares of linoleum at his feet, shaking his head, trying to gather himself. "...there will be no more Husky Crew."

Dead silence. Shit. The death sentence.

"Walker. Get up here."

For a regular white kid, Walker looked pretty pale. The rest of us could feel the clenched asshole, the tingling despair in his step from the back of the room. Not his usual smiling self, Walker stood before Dik. We wondered if he'd just lower his head to let the guillotine fall.

Dik drew in a breath to pronounce the verdict.

"Just fuckin' with ya. Got a prize for you here."

The place busted up. He really got us that time. And the chant began again.

M-A-D! D-O-G! Mad Dog, Mad Dog, Yes Sirree!

So it was with Mad Dog Kings, those happy few who managed to distinguish themselves through copious consumption of the Magic Elixir. The Nectar of the Gods. The Wine of the Century. Mogen David 20/20.  

And it wasn’t just the consumption. It was the creative and entertaining ways the Kings could relieve themselves of the wine they’d consumed. The contest took place annually, in the stands of a Husky football game, in full view of the public. Fifths were ordered and smuggled into the stadium in those big bags we used to sell programs. Scuse me past the ticket taker, thank you I’m a Husky Crew guy, just selling programs, thank you, nod at the cop, yes Sir, a couple gallons of wine in here, three Husky football programs on top, no problem, thank you Sir.

Walker had finished his first fifth while the first quarter was still in play. By the end of the first half, two bottles down. In the third quarter the downpour started. He didn’t notice. But it was all the better to wash the puke away in the fourth quarter. His buddies hauled him back to the boathouse, stipped him naked and tossed him in the shower. Then they left for dinner. Thank God for buddies.

We knew nothing about alcohol poisoning. That was impossible. Drink too much and you’ll just puke it up. And we were right. That happened a lot. But things got pretty entertaining way before the puking started.

The cops really didn’t care. We had a tradition, when sitting high on the wood bleachers above the student section, to chuck our empties under the seats, shattering them beneath us. That way nobody would know we’d been drinking. Plus the immense pile of broken glass down there was pretty amazing. One guy finished his bottle, moved his feet and bent to chuck it under, but a powerful hand grabbed his wrist. He looked up to see a cop in his face, who let go, silently waved a finger at him, and moved on. No search, no confiscation, no arrest. Just hey don’t make a mess.

Late in Doctor Frank’s rowing years, this eminent Husky Crew public relations function moved out of the stands and onto field level. At the bottom of the student section, a low wall kept the honest people off the track that encircled the football field. For the aggressive assholes who wanted to disturb the peace, there was a drainage moat about five feet across and four feet deep, with guarded bridges crossing it.

We had a guy who, after reaching that peak level post-drinking and pre-puking, just decided he wanted to go on the field. So he stumbles down there, the cops won’t let him across the bridge, he gets angry, stands up on the retaining wall, Doctor Frank still has no idea how he does this without tipping over, and pisses in the moat. Tens of thousands of fans watching.

Mad Dog Day does not end at this point. It gets better.

At some point the guy named Little Hitler just pisses off one too many of his gruntie teammates, and they chase him down the stairs to the moat. There’s too many of them for the cops, and Little Hitler’s on the run and on a mission, so they all blow across the bridge, over the moat, and onto the track. Little Hitler is doomed. They bung him right there, between the football team and the stands, center of the track in front of the student section. The students find this new thing way more entertaining than the game and start going nuts cheering, led and egged on by those of us remaining innocently in the stands.

Grunties being grunties and craving the attention, they release Little Hitler and look for a new victim. There’s a head yell leader guy who carries a microphone to lead cheers. An obvious target. Guy wears all white with purple and gold stripes down his arms and legs. You gotta remember that as femmy as these boys look, they’re decent athletes. You gotta be strong and coordinated to toss a hundred-pound lady in the air.

Undeterred, the grunties grab the guy and take him down. By some stroke of luck it’s right next to the Husky Helmet Car, which gives them another five or six feet of elevation. But unlike Uli’s ladder bung, the Helmet Car bung is not done in the dead of night in the privacy of a crewhouse hallway. For God’s sake it’s right there in front of the entire stadium. And it’s not just the student section. Now the whole stadium sees what’s happening.

The cops have been watching and think it’s all part of the show. At some point they saunter over and tell the grunties they need to go back to their seats. Little Hitler, meanwhile, is telling everyone – cops, classmates, cheerleaders – to go fuck themselves. So they bung him again on the way back to the moat, and the crowd goes nuts again.

Like some sick joke, Mad Dog Day still does not end.

There was a Last Straw. Doctor Frank saw it happen, but Doctor Frank was no longer a rower at this point. I was simply sitting in the stands enjoying the game with my honey. But it was easy to see the cops had a different attitude that year. They actually arrested a guy.

I wasn’t a part of this one, planning or otherwise, but it was evident to a now-mature and embarrassed Doctor Frank that Mad Dog Day had commenced. We could see guys leading cheers, the old M-A-D D-O-G. It felt nice to know the tradition of excellence was continuing.

The cheerleader girls had this tradition of their own. After a touchdown, someone would get in the Helmet Car and pull up to where the girls were jumping up and down and waving the pompoms. Four or five of them would sit on the front of the car and they’d be driven all the way around the track and back, waving to the adoring crowd. Sweet. Cute. And they had no idea what was coming on this day.

Belushi did this thing in Animal House where he was trying to get a look in the window of the sorority. Creeping around, hiding, creeping, creeping. We look down to the bottom of the student section and there’s this guy. Creeping down the stairs like Belushi. Someone distracts the cop, and the guy is across the bridge and onto the track. Now he’s out there, just striding along, no big, official business, another day at the office. We’re watching him, wondering what the hell. Of course we recognize him. He’s heading for the Helmet Car, which, lacking touchdowns, is parked near the end zone.

Belushi takes a last look around, jumps in and fires it up. He heads slowly along the track. Cheerleaders notice the Helmet Car coming, obviously questioning, no TD, why is it here? But Belushi turns on the charm. Hop aboard. The regular load of a few girls jumps on. No, more, why not, all you girls join the party. So he’s got close to ten of them, happily waving and shaking those pompoms, let’s go Huskies, smiling and digging the extra ride.

When he gets to the left turn on the track at the horseshoe end of the stadium, he hits the gas. That’s when the first one falls off. By the time he reaches the straightaway on the far side, he’s doing 35 and there’s a trail of little white miniskirts on the track in his rearview. He’s still got one on the hood, face down, hanging on. He does the 100 yards to the far corner of the field, she thinks he’s going to turn around and go back the way he came, she lets go as he makes the turn and says fuck this, I’ll walk.

Instead he just takes a left and floors it again, black skid marks across the east end zone, power slide and back to where he picked up the car. It’s all over in maybe ninety seconds from when he jumped the moat.

Belushi doesn’t make it back to his seat. The low-key cops are rallying by the time he gets out of the car. He’s moseying across the track when they surround him and lead him away, through the gate by the snack bar. But the people are cheering. For Belushi or for the cops? Not even close. The cops aren’t entertaining. On the other hand it’s just good red blooded family fun to watch a half dozen cheerleaders go flying off a Helmet Car and across a track.

There were no injuries. Not even a skinned knee. Nobody even got hurt when Belushi broke free, went back onto the track and shut all the cops in behind the gate, jumped back in the car and did another lap. This time nobody was dumb enough to hop aboard. This time they had the cuffs ready.

That Helmet Car is sitting in a museum in Seattle. An historic artifact. And every old dawg rower knows it was the reason Mad Dog Day was permanently banned.

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