This weekend, I had the pleasure of revisiting one of the best chapters from my days as a youngster. As the great phallic Bell Tower emerged from behind the trees, I was transported to a simpler time. Instantly, scenes from my past flickered to life—images of the annual football game and those special, once-a-term occasions, when the Abbot girls would be allowed over the wall to visit us. The look on their faces as they got to see what a real school looked like was priceless. There is nothing like the feeling of being a true non-sibi man. These events were supervised, mind you, but there’s still no sight quite like a procession of eligible girls, our cousins mostly, walking silently in single file towards an evening of square dancing and swinging.
I parked by the old Borden gymnasium, what they call the “Admissions Center.” It’s funny, I don’t recall there being such a bureau during my time at Andover. All I had to do to attend was show up! As I strolled across the pavement, I was startled by the clamor of foul music. I looked up to see an approaching hoard of youths, clad in outlandish attire and loud to the point of breaking my hearing aids. I quickened my pace and gripped my wallet. Naturally, I was surprised to hear my own grandson’s voice among the throng. “Grandpappy? You’re here early,” he said. This gang, he explained, were called the “Blue Key Heads,” a less attractive group of cheerleaders.
Asking no further questions, my grandson and I decided to duck into the “Wellness Center,” so I could see what all the fuss was about. Almost immediately, I regretted my decision. In plain sight, on the coffee table in the center of the room, rested a jar of prophylactic condoms, nearly empty. I suppose these blasphemous contraceptives are everywhere these days, and sexual favors given out like Halloween candy and gold stars. What’s next? Satanic cult pamphlets?
Feeling unwell indeed, my grandson and I left the Wellness Center. Glad to see a familiar sight, we crossed the street toward Commons. Above the entrance to the hall was the word “PARESKY” in rather offensive capital letters. I was shocked that an Eastern European surname was plastered across my former place of dining. The communists had come. Infiltrating our institutions, slowly laying waste to fine American ideals, the Soviets had apparently outsmarted the Academy, flying the Hammer and Sickle in the form of a generous donation. Genius, I suppose, but horrifying all the same.
I had certainly lost my appetite, and, not wanting to tarnish my view of such hallowed grounds any further, I decided to part ways with my grandson. I had to rush to the bank to cancel my check to this communist education. On my walk to my car, those great elms seemed to sigh in the autumn breeze, longing for freedom and a fair capital gains tax. Even the grass seemed less green than I remember. Oh, the sixties!