It was the best of times; it was…no, actually that’s exactly what it was – the best of times! It was time for the Theta Nu Sigma dinner dance and the excitement leading up to their annual banquet built up Olympic proportions of anticipation and testosterone. For the seniors, it would be their farewell to college days. For the newly inducted pledges, their first chance to showcase the brotherhood in front of their dates. For all the brothers, the announcing of next year’s newly elected president and board of directors. And of course the highlight of the evening: Mr. Karras’ recap of the year’s shenanigans.
Into the context of such pageantry, uncommon behavior had a tendency to become … well…common. Young men in their rented tuxedos gallantly arriving with their ladies, courteously introducing them around, leaving only momentarily to retrieve some drinks from the open bar. The chatter would grow; the laughter got louder, the music swelled in the background above the din. And then, within an hour, all semblance of decorum, and possibly even sanity, began to wither into history. By the end of the evening, one can only imagine the incoherent state of mind of some of the more vigorous participants.
Enter into the midst of this bizzaro affair brothers Don Schulze, Norm Ervine, and Wesley Kowalik. Pledge brothers in the class of 1965 and now roommates in the lower level of a dilapidated duplex affectionately known as the “follies-de-Hamil-tone”. So-called because it happened to exist on Hamilton Avenue in the “Burg” (Chambersburg being the Italian section of Trenton at the time); and the French appellation lent a certain air of sophistication to an otherwise completely unsophisticated environment.
Their attachment to their dwelling, while not cognitively understandable, was nevertheless significant. So, as they emerged from the Cherry Hill Inn ballroom this particular evening, they felt disposed to secure a memento a bit more enduring than say the monogrammed cocktail goblet provided as a party favor.
Did they simply seek out a rememberance of the evening; or was it a divine intervention? Did Schulze plant the seed in Wesley, the legendary “Mental Midget’s” ear? Or did Ervine, his poor eyesight blurred by enormous amounts of beer, stumble onto it? No matter. What they happened upon was no less than the Holy Grail was to the Knights of Templar: an actual life-size lawn jockey!
Wes had to have it. No, not like in he “wanted” it. Like in he HAD to have it. Like a baby’s craving for mother’s milk, this was an insatiable undeniable biological necessity. Another sun would not rise without the union of Wes and the jockey. Nothing in life could have superceded this. Maybe he always wanted a jockey, but what with their arrogance and need for maintenance, a real one was probably out of the question. Thus, this magnificent structure required a relocation with its rightful soulmate. Forget that it was in the middle of a dozen other sculptures that adorned the garden to the Inn. Forget the expansion of the ten-foot high windows that laced the courtyard. And while you’re piling up a list of “forget-that’s”, throw in the one that says everyone else was walking out at the same time. All immaterial. Opportunities like this don’t come along every day. This was not something to pass up.
Don and Norm, being of sound mind; and Mental of sound body, put their heads together and came up with the perfect plan – Wes would pick it up and carry it to the car! Planning sessions such as these usually take seconds.
Wes squatted down with the strength of the middleweight varsity wrestler that he was. He lifted – Nothing! He lowered his base and came in for a crushing double-leg take-down. Again, nothing moved. He attacked again; he cursed at it; he kicked at it; he spit at it; he even threw up at it…but “the tar baby, he don’t say nuthin'”.
Then the three of them put all their weight and effort into it. The jockey, he was just too much for them. It wasn’t that he was too heavy, although he did clock in at about two-fifty which is, let’s face it, an awful lot for a jockey. The monkey wrench in this whole campaign was that he was bolted to a concrete footing!
Not to be outmanuvered, Norm staggered out to his car and returned with a monkey wrench of his own – a real monkey wrench! So here it was: three guys in tuxedos, dates and passer-bys standing in watch, in the middle of the night, bent over a little black concrete man with a lantern, loosening the bolts that tethered him to the planet.
If the story stopped here, it would be a pretty good one. But these stories have a way of eluding a denoument with any finality. Once segregated from its mooring, it had to be transported back to Trenton and no one had the foresight to schedule a moving van. As luck would have it though, they all came in Norm’s car, a 1946 Chrysler convertible. Nicknamed thre “Batmobile” after the TV series that they all cut Thursday classes to watch, with the top down it was more than up to the task of ferrying three couples and a recalcitrant masonry munchkin back up Route 130. The harsh night wind didn’t exactly make the trip back to Trenton any more endurable. The brothers busied themselves harmonizing old-time collegiate classics like “She’s a Big Fat F**k”; the girls froze in silence; and the jockey -“he don’t say nuthin'”.
In the end, it was all worth it. The jockey proved to be an immediate hit at parties. Adorned at various times with bras, panties, and sometimes indistinguishable forms of disgusting lingerie, it took up residence below a picture frame/toilet seat that featured their “picture of the month”.
The question then arises “what becomes of lawn jockeys when their tenure is up”? In this case, Schulze’s father-in-law offered to adopt the discarded equestrian and planted him in his front yard. Of course he painted him white. What the hell…he’s not a racist!