My husband went to Yale University. Having attended every reunion since we married in 1989, it is an amazing place. Yes, the campus is wonderful in an old world ivy kind of way. But it is the classmates I have met that have been the best part. A world renowned archaeologist and former crew team member bought me a “yard” of ale at the official crew team’s bar and we sat around telling dirty jokes. The discussions amongst any group are riveting. One gets a true sense of why the prestige of the “Ivies” exists.
When we lived in Chicago, there was a very strong alumni association. The Yale Club of Chicago hosted an annual scholarship ball and the broadcasting of “THE Game” every November.
There isn’t a strong alumni association out here. The nearest official chapter is six hours away. Though there are a couple of “bulldogs” in Deadwood. (Yes, THAT Deadwood.)
In July and the onset of “Rally Week” looming large; on a regular Thursday evening, the phone rings. It is the hubby saying he is on his way home and what’s for dinner. (Wild caught Alaskan Salmon, thank you very much.)
Great. See you in ten.
Ten comes and goes and the phone rings again.
“There are two Yalies in the process of bicycling up our road and our rigorous hill to come for dinner.” he says.
He repeats himself.
Hostess overdrive kicks in, though I have plaque on my warming rack that says “Martha Stewart doesn’t live Here”. I have ten minutes to set a table, double the amount of salmon and make it look like I am doing this calmly. Not because they are Yalies. Because our road is gravel, our house is two miles in and THEN you begin the ten degree incline, half mile climb to our home. The directions include phrases like “turn right at the buffalo herd; go past the abandoned ranch.”
Fortunately the hubby arrives before the two cyclists. He explains the situation. Driving home on the side highway which leads us home, he spies two cyclists with “YALE” on the ass of their biker shorts. Screeching to a halt, he manages, in one fell swoop, to convince these two that:
1) He is not a stalker or an axe murderer. He is only a South Dakotan and this is what South Dakotans do. They slam on the brakes when they see someone that they have something in common with. (Or when they hit a deer and they can still harvest the meat.)
2) He is an alum and “mi casa es su casa” by virtue of the imprint on your derrieres.
3) His wife, moi, is guilty of this sort of behavior with anyone with Illinois license plates. (To a milder degree of course). But I consider this normal.
Rachel and Will are grad students at Yale and were biking across the country on summer break. Wonderful people who were more than grateful for wine, salmon, and CDs of the Whiffenpoofs on the stereo. Most of all the gratitude flowed for a clean bed that is too big for a tent and hot showers. The evening passed with jocularity immentibus. It was great to have such stimulating conversation.
Until these two decided to tell us about the next leg of their planned sojourn.
They had approximately nine days of time left and were planning on cycling across our adopted state and getting to Chicago. We pulled out the atlas.
When I have visitors who are driving here, as we often do, I always advise them where to get gas, food and the other essentials. I do this because central South Dakota is a vast expanse of wild prairie with very little opportunity to refill or empty ANYTHING. I had friends who were waylaid by a snowstorm in late March for two days. They were fortunate enough to grab the last hotel rooms in Murdo as the highways closed around them. Forced to hang out in the local bar, ass well as deplete all local supplies; they came away with some of the funniest blue jokes I have heard in a while. Adventures have their advantages.
I talked with them about the insanity of this particular leg of their adventure. I mean the whole reason we were even having this conversation was due to the fact that a somewhat eccentric and outgoing alum had pulled them over. There is the true and accurate description of needing a camel caravan full of water just to get across the bulk of the the state. There is also the trivia fact that South Dakota’s capitol, Pierre, is the only state capitol in the Union that is not on an interstate. Both are facts, not fiction. Especially if you are biking across it.
They saw the light of reason.
The next morning, I was happy to drive them the hour drive down to “The Faces” as we call Mt. Rushmore. With a fond farewell, and bon voyage, I headed home. They headed east. I was not without a moment or two of envy. Costco’s presence comes to mind. Whole Foods leaves me green with envy. (Can anyone put me in touch with the CEOs so I can look pitiful and beg?)
But then it occured to me. The HAPPY thought occurred to me. This would NEVER have happened in Illinois. Not in my part….
We still, out here, DVR “THE Game”. This year, it is because my husband and sons and a couple of pals will be pheasant hunting a couple of hours away. I have learned to make a mean pheasant stew.
I guess the moral of the tale is: “There are advantages to having “Yale” tattooed on the derriere of biker shorts.”