Friday, October 19, 2012

Never Leave A Man Behind

"I don't suppose you boys have IDs on ya?" asked public safety officer Joe Hardy.

It wasn't a difficult question. We didn't have our IDs. But nobody wanted to talk. Shrugged shoulders and vacant stares was all PSO Hardy got from us.

"I didn't think so," Hardy said. "Get out of the pickup truck and into the patrol car. We're going to have to go get this thing written up."

An hour earlier, I was with my three roommates and two other friends at our house at 34th and California Street.  It was Wednesday night October 9th, 1991.  A half a pot of coffee on the dining room table had gone cold as we studied and did school work.  At around midnight, I had had enough and needed a break.

It was warm that night and I wanted to get out of the house. Suddenly, for no better reason than why not, I shut my book and said, "I'm going streaking. Who's with me?"

For me to suggest something like this was out of my character. There was a moment of silence as the rest tried to figure out if I was joking or serious.

"I'm totally serious," I said.  "Who's with me?"

My roommate Scott Alter was all about this kind of mischief.  He lived for the moment as well as anyone I've ever known.  He could walk into a party knowing no one and emerge being everyone's friend. Scott simply knew how to have fun. Of course he was with me.

There was also no need to persuade roommate Robert. Robert -- or Rocking Robbie Pisco as he preferred -- was a hot blooded Italian who backed down from nothing or no one. Sports, academics, women -- there was no challenge that was too great for Rockin' Robbie Pisco. When he saw that I meant what I said, I believe he just stood up and yelled, 'YEEEEEEEEEAAAHHH!"

Friends Dan 0'Keefe and John "Hugs" Hospotka were not roommates but happened to be at our house that night.  Dan was the quiet type. They say that you never know the quiet types. He simply nodded his head to indicate that he was in.

In truth, I'm unsure why Huggs was at our house that evening. John was not on your traditional four/five year plan. He was a lifetime student. He knew just about everyone on campus. Or at least, just about everyone knew him. They knew him because he gave everyone hugs. I'm not kidding here. He just went around literally hugging everyone. So much so that that's what everyone called him: "Hugs".  Anyway, Hugs gave the thumbs up that he was also in on the plan.

And then there was my roommate Tom. Tom was the most pragmatic of my roommates. He was the thinker. He represented reason amidst the chaos that the other three of us presented to him. As a result, Tom was entrusted with the household budget. He collected rent and paid the bills. He got us to school on time. And he could prepare a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs like no one.

When Tom saw that all of us knuckleheads were committed to streaking, he agreed to be our get-away car driver. He also happened to be the only one besides Scott who had a car, and there was no way Scott was going to miss out on this. So, we sorta needed him to drive or it just wasn't going to work.

The plan I suggested was have Tom drive us to campus in his pickup truck. He would drop us off at the top of the mall, at 24th and California, right next to the all-women's dorm, Deglman hall (#26). At that point, we would only be wearing boxer shorts. On top of our heads. Just boxer shorts. Nothing else. We would then proceed westbound down the mall, passing by Swanson Hall (24), St John's chapel (28), the Library (29), the Student Union (22), then Kiewit (21) and Gallagher Halls (19). Finally, at the bottom of the mall, Tom would be waiting for us with his pickup truck at Wareham parkway. In all, a distance of two city blocks that was home to 2,000 on-campus residents.

It was a reasonable plan.  We were all college students in relatively good shape. Well, Hugs kinda looked like the Buddha (the fat and happy Buddha), but the distance wasn't that far.  It was after midnight, midweek. We'd be there and back before very many noticed. Right?

Tom dropped us off as planned. We streaked past Deglman and Swanson Halls without issue. I was the first to reach the fountain in front of St John's. On the spur of the moment, I climbed up on top of the six foot pedestal. It was at that point that I heard some girls yelling out Swanson Hall's windows. I looked and saw silhouettes gathering at the windows. I climbed back down and started heading down the mall.

Robert was next to climb the fountain's pedestal. More yelling from Swanson Hall. Robert started yelling back. This only encouraged Scott to be even more obnoxious when it was his turn.  When I looked over my shoulder, Scott was cupping his hands around his mouth to amplify his yelling. By now, cat calls were also coming from Kiewit and Gallagher Halls. I started running. Really fast.

I spotted Tom waiting with the pickup truck on Wareham parkway. I was the first to climb in. Then Scott, Robert and Dan. By now, the entire center of campus was in an uproar. I saw camera flashes from dorm windows.

"LET'S GO, LET'S GO!" Scott yelled while pounding on the truck's sidewall.

"Wait, Hugs is not with us!" Robert countered.  "Never leave a man behind!"

To my horror, I looked up the mall to see Hugs strolling leisurely along as if he was the Grand Marshal of the Rose Bowl parade or something. Only this Grand Marshal's boxers were draped over his head.  Not that that would have stopped him from giving you one of his namesake hugs.

It probably only took an extra 30 seconds, maybe a minute, but it felt like an eternity before Hugs finally climbed into the back of the pickup. Tom sped through the parking lot to exit campus property. I sighed in relief. I thought for sure that we were going to be caught.

That's when we saw the flashing lights of the public safety vehicles speeding to block our exit. PSO Joe Hardy nabbed us.



  1. So every time The U.P. Lunch ride goes by the starting line, you have to think about this, right? Also, Dan O'Keefe lived in the building he was molesting, but continues on to the truck instead of slipping into his room? Nice.

  2. Fred, allow me to clarify one of your comments regarding your word choice "molesting". While the full definition of "molest" does include the notion of bothering or pestering someone in a general sense, I think it's safe to say that most people take it for it's sexual denotation these days. And I can assure you, none of us -- especially Dan O'Keefe -- none were molesting any buildings or people in the vernacular sense of that word. Golly!

    As for why Dan went to the truck instead of going directly to Swanson, I'm not sure, but he may have been an RA in Swanson at the time. So it probably wasn't in his best interest to streak into his own dorm wearing only boxers on his head.

    As for memories that cross my mind as I approach Deglman circle: Sometime, I'll have to tell you about the summer sausage I witnessed being torpedoed via water balloon slingshot from Swanson hall through a window of (all girls dorm) Deglman Hall. Oh wait, I just did tell you. True story.

    Anyway, not only was this act of vandalism waaaaay over the top in Freudian symbolism, I think you'd agree that a summer sausage torpedoed at the "virgin vault" would better qualify as a proper usage of the word "molesting" than your example. So there.

  3. Oh THAT Dan O'Keefe. I thought you were talking about that old perv who invented Festivus. Honest mistake. My apologies.