Written by Loren Logsdon
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 00:00
My name is Gort Rumson. I am the great-great-grandson of the famous Ben Rumson, who was a pioneer in California in the days of the gold rush. Like him, I was born under a wandering star, and I prefer a roving, gypsy kind of life, so when I graduated from Heliotrope University in 2007, I wanted to travel to the four corners of the world, sail the seven seas, and do battle with formidable adversaries. Instead, I took a job as a spider squasher 4th class aboard a banana boat named The Arachnid. At first I thought the job would only be temporary, maybe a month or two, until I could find something better, but I ended up working three years because I could eat all the bananas I wanted. Besides, I love calypso music. “Daylight come and me wanna go home.”
Then I received a letter from Professor Lancaster Markem who informed me that he was writing a book about the history of football at Heliotrope University, and he asked me if I could provide insights about the 2006 team that almost went undefeated. Since I was the fourth string quarterback on that team and I roomed with the star player, a husky, well-built, intense fellow named Dick Bumpass, I was a logical person to ask. I decided to comply with Prof Markem’s request. Even more important, though, the last game of the season is even to this day shrouded in mystery, and I can clear that up.
We had a super team that season. We were so good that we had our opponents beaten by the end of the first half. I actually got to play in several games, and I was the team’s fourth string quarterback. The main reason for our success was our running back Dick Bumpass. He was the finest player since those legendary days of Musk-Ox Brown. We went into the final game of the season heavily favored to win and go undefeated for the first time in the history of the school. It seemed a sure thing because our opponent was the San Andreas Fault State University Lapilli, and they hadn’t won a game all year. There was no dramatic moment in that game, no turning point, so I’ll spare you the details. The records show that we lost 3-0 on a first quarter field goal. Almost no one knows the real reason we lost. I do and I will tell you.
We lost because of three people: Dick Bumpass, our super star; Pam Searcy, a determined female student who loved Dick; and Dr. Grak Korkov, an obnoxious bugbear of a professor who hated football. If you were to diagram this story, Dick is the noun, Pam the verb, and Korkov the adverb.
First, the noun. Dick Bumpass was one of the most dedicated student-athletes I have ever known, dedicated to football and to the goal of becoming a world-class research scientist. His time and energy were divided evenly between the football field and his studies. He never missed class or a practice, and he was the only student I knew who studied on Friday and Saturday nights. He was a biology major with a perfect 4.0 GPA, and to him the word party was an obscenity.
Then the verb. Pam Searcy was a psychology major who had the charms and the power to turn men into swine. Immediately, as a freshman, she attracted the attention of the entire male population in Weeder’s Clump. Elderly gentlemen, many of them grandfathers, would sigh and roll their eyes heavenward when Pam walked by. Married men with impeccable reputations for marital fidelity would speak of her in hushed whispers. For four years running she was chosen “Miss Golden Girder Chassis” at the Weeder’s Clump Fall Festival and Antique Tractor Pull.
I was in love with Pam. She could have had any man she wanted at Heliotrope University. And she wanted only Dick Bumpass. Still, I clung to the slender hope that I might win her heart.
As for the adverb, Dr. Grak Korkov, I’ll get to him later. He comes into the picture only on that frosty Friday before the embarrassing game against SAFS.
For three years Pam had tried to get Dick’s attention and win his heart. She sent out vibes, subtle suggestions, and body language that should have told him she wanted more than mere friendship. But Dick was impervious to all of these signs. He was too busy studying and playing football to have much time for socializing, not to mention love. To him, Pam was just a friend, a pal.
To her credit, Pam tried certain practical strategies to win Dick’s love. Unlike Delilah in the Bible, Pam did not want Dick to be blind and weak as a newborn baby, wandering around in a state of hairless ignominy.
She offered to do Dick’s laundry, proofread his papers for Prof Markem’s professional writing class, and help him do library work for his research papers.
Pam offered to bring Dick his meals when he was sick, but he was never sick, and he never missed a meal.
Pam even offered to provide solace when Dick got melancholy, and idealists do get melancholy.
Dick would go every once in a while to The Bide A Wee Memory Gardens for contemplation, where he would meditate on the brevity of life and the fragile nature of human dreams. As if by accident, Pam would suddenly step out from behind a monument and join him.
All of this effort was to no avail. Dick refused to take the relationship beyond the stage of friendship. Pam befriended me as well, but I knew she was using me because I was Dick’s roommate. I didn’t care. I would have done anything for her.
The situation changed on the Friday morning before the game against SAFS. I saw Pam the first hour because we both had Prof Forcas’ seminar in Modern Human Problems. Pam actually glowed with happiness, and after class she confided in me that she had visited with Professor Grak Korkov, who teaches “The Literature of the Supernatural.” She explained her problem to the avuncular professor, who listened attentively. Then he gave Pam a little wooden doll, some pins, and a small tin marked “Mummy Dust.” Korkov laughed with glee as he gave her the instructions for the hex.
My heart sank on hearing Pam’s plan, and I remember distinctly what I said to her. “Pam, this is the 21st century. People no longer believe that elves live in the grass, nymphs frolic in rivers and lakes, and magic potions can enslave a person’s heart. You are just letting yourself in for more disappointment if put your faith in this voodoo flapdoodle.”
Undaunted, Pam said, “We’ll see about that. We’ll see just how strong Mr. Dick Bumpass really is.”
After the evening meal that fateful Friday, Dick announced that he was going over to the biology lab and dissect a baby pig. He invited me to come along and keep him company.
Ordinarily I would not have done so, but I was curious. I knew something was in the air or soon would be. Besides, I had to write a letter home to ask the folks to send me some money, and I could do that in the biology lab and keep an eye on Dick at the same time.
Dick was working on the pig and singing the theme song for Butch’s Pizza when suddenly he stopped his work, rose from his lab stool, and walked out into the night as if drawn by some invisible force. I tried to stop him, but it was like Pee Wee Herman trying to tackle Hulk Hogan. Dick walked in a straight line like a Zombie, and all I could do was follow him.
Dick walked right up against the wall of Pam’s dorm. Then, like Spiderman, he scaled the wall and crawled into Pam’s room through the open window. He groveled at Pam’s feet, and I heard him beg her for an ear of corn, a handful of acorns, and a ring for the end of his nose.
Dick didn’t return to our room that night. He was gone for the entire weekend, and he missed the big game with SAFS. He returned on Monday, somewhat cheerful.
And that was how we lost the game 3-0.
At that crucial moment on that Friday night, Dick swore to worship the ground Pam walked on, but he promised never to treat her like dirt. They were married during Thanksgiving vacation in 2006. I was the best man. Now, five years later, Pam and Dick are living in England, where Dick is a member of a world-class research team to find a cure for cancer and AIDS. Pam has written a best-selling novel entitled The Only Girl He Loved Was Allis-Chalmers.
Dr. Grak Korkov, the villain in this story, resigned his faculty position at Heliotrope University to take a lucrative administrative post at a college so far from civilization that the students think a snow removal crew is 50 people with lighted matches.
Now the full story has been told. The mystery cleared up. And like Ishmael, “I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 15:10