By: Bill Kaufman  | 

On the Sidelines: Alas! Santayana Was Right (A Tragedy in Three Scenes) -- (Vol. 1, Issue 4)

It was with mingled. emotions of insuperable pride and importance that I took my place at the council meeting only recently deputized by “Red” Kasten as one of his athletic managers pro tem, and more specifically as the supplicant for a bill of athletic appropriation amounting to twenty dollars, which “Red” himself could not champion because of an important previous engagement. I assured Kasten with as much fervor as my befuddled and over-zealous lips would allow that the twenty bucks were in ‘the bag. And so we cheerfully departed; I to the meeting, and Kasten to the movies.

Scene I 

The usual run of business took place during the first part of the meeting, but I confess that I was entirely impervious to the proceedings, as I was busy memorizing an appeal for funds which would knock the boys dead. And when at last “le jour de gloire” had arrived, with a Shma Yisroel on my lips, I began. 

Scene II 

… I am still in confusion as to the cause of my dismal failure. Was it that my nervousness had caused my lips to babble forth meaningless words and phrases, or were my arguments, previously so sound and iron-clad, mere mumblings of hot air? I can still recall the scene of a sea of faces synchronized with the sound of rumbling whispers. I sat down. The drab colored physiognomies of my colleagues, reflecting anger and distaste, were becoming clearer. I could still feel the eyes of the president pierce my very innards, and my neighbor and co-biologist, Dave Wachtfogel, was biting his lips and withholding a pent-up indignation. I was then set upon by a barrage of bursting indignities and outrageous cries. “What happened to the previous five dollar appropriation for tennis?” “Where are we going to get the money?” “How can we expect to play baseball with final exams just around the corner?” After these outbursts had somewhat quieted, a symposium between Petegorsky and Wachtfogel on the financial plight of the council took place which almost brought tears to the eyes of the assemblage. I could utter no suitable words of reply and so I sat utterly dejected, a physical wreck — aye, a martyr to the cause of athletics.

Scene III

Just then, when the world was at its darkest, my colleague Mo Feurstein arose and very eloquently expressed the belief that an appropriation of five dollars for tennis material was not entirely out of the question. His Phillippic was successful and the motion passed. Glancing furtively around me, I weakly volunteered two motions for the financing of the intra-mural indoor baseball and for an appropriation of two dollars for incidental expenses, both of which passed in spite of the disgruntled pessimisms of that mechanical materialist, David Wachtfogel (What could be a stronger appellation). 


And so the meeting ended and the Palestra was saved. But what started out with great expectation went the way of all flesh and turned out to be mere irrational illusion. “That is all ye know on earth.” (Tragic chorus files out.)