Under the Good Things to Know link at the top of this website, I note the Katz of the Day blog by my friend Mike Katz. He currently has a couple of whimsical pieces on his site that are near and dear to my heart -- about attending Northwestern University. Central to the first part, which you can find here, are his tales of going to the Wildcats' woeful football games.
"Late in the game," he writes about a ballgame that, thanks to trickery, Northwestern lost -- not surprisingly -- though surprisingly to an underdog, (To be clear, it's not surprising that they lost to an underdog...but that there was a team that was an underdog to Northwestern. "Miami scored the winning touchdown on a lateral to a halfback who passed the ball back to their quarterback, unguarded in the end zone. It was the first that I can remember of a disturbing trend, our academically renowned boys falling for a sucker play."
(I should mention, incidentally, the little-known fact that before the school was known as the Wildcats, their nickname was -- honest -- the Fighting Methodists. When I went there, a small group humorously suggested that the school returned to that name. It went nowhere, although a non-binding referendum to change the name to the Purple Haze was actually put to a vote. The football coach at the time publicly stated that he would never send his team out under that name. No doubt he breathed a sigh of relief when the vote didn't pass -- though it came close.)
Part two of Mike Katz's saga deals a bit more about college life, most notably his foray into Fraternity World, something dying out in most colleges in the 1970s, but still popular at Northwestern, forced upon him because, as he notes, if your family lived within 40 miles of campus, you weren't eligible to live in a dorm.
"About half the chapter was pretty much like me, guys who did not want to live in a dorm or at home, and were willing to put up with a little bit of “initiation” tomfoolery in return. The other half thought it was still 1957." Despite the benefits of offering a place to live, Katz was still reticent because of the infamous Rush Week and its annoying hijinks. However, he had an ace up his sleeve. "I was able to leverage my most valuable asset, an automobile, into a reduction in 'pledge' nonsense."
Up until this moment, I think I've avoided mentioning to Mike that -- though we overlapped in our years at Northwestern, and come from the same town, Glencoe -- er, I was not only able to get accepted into a dorm room my freshman year, but lived on campus in dorms for all four years. And my last two years were even in a dorm made up all of single rooms, no roommates! I used a very sneaky method, you see -- I didn't take Northwestern's admonition at face value and, instead, applied.
(That said, I think the housing office screwed up in my case, getting me into a dorm from the very first day, since a couple weeks before when I checked, they had told me I was something like #35 on the waiting list. But...I was on a waiting list, not told I was ineligible. I believe that sound of screaming you are now hearing is that of Mike Katz reading this...)
Anyway, Mike has a part three upcoming, and if it has anything in common with NU football and his housing adventures, there will be other tales of woe. Some of which he, perhaps could have avoided if he'd just asked me first...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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