And so it came to pass that Harold Rothman, having served his term in limbo and having successfully persuaded the college fathers that he was fit to take the academic waters and no longer posed a danger to himself or his peers, was permitted to rematriculate at Plymouth University.
And so that September, Harold found himself, along with a busload of other anxious, excited, bored, enthusiastic undergrads headed back to Camp Plymouth. It was hard to believe. He was actually going back — a term early, no less. Originally, the college fathers had decreed that he had to spend a full year in exile before being considered for readmission. But then, that August, Harold and his father Sam had driven up and had a conference with Dean Katzenjammer, and Sam had huffed and puffed and by the time it was over Rothman’s term of suspension had been cut down from a year to a term.
And here he was again, back on the Greyhound to Plymouth, looking at the same cows and rolling pastures. He couldn’t believe it. He was going Back. The prodigal son returneth.
He was all set.
Somehow, too, he had managed to find another place to live, after his old freshman roommate, Leland G. Hummingford III, invited to let him share a house he had found on William Street, in lower C-Town. Selma Rothman blanched when she heard that Harold was going to live in C-Town again, but felt better when she learned that he would be rooming with the assiduous Hummingford again.
He was all set.
And something really weird happened: Rothman fell in love.
This is how it happened. One day, a few days after he got back to The Hill, Rothman ran into Dlovid J. Dangle, he of the long blond hair and rubber eyeball. Soon, Dangle, perhaps Plymouth’s most conspicuous misfit, would transfer to Bennnigton College after submitting his final paper in Philosophy in the form of a microdot on the back of a Bazooka Bubblegum comic — his final beau dada. But for the moment, Dangle was still at Plymouth, dangling around, popping up in the weirdest places — like the “Spawn on the Lawn” party at Sigma Alpha Mu he had heard about.
Did Rothman want to come?
“Spawn on the lawn, man. Only freshwomen and upperclassmen need apply. Everyone else verboten,” Dangle said. “Come along,” he said, raising his eyebrows á la Groucho Marx. “Never know — you might get lucky.”
“Yeah, right,” Rothman said, skeptically. It wasn’t that Rothman wasn’t interested in girls — he was. It was just he wasn’t that interested right then. After all, he had just gotten back. It was such a trip just to be back.
“Yeah, okay,” Dangle said, cutting him off. “You want to come or not? At the very least, it ought to be good for a goof.”
And so, reluctantly, Rothman went to the Spawn on the Lawn Party. “What the hell,” he told himself. “Should be a goof.”
And so it was that about half an hour later Rothman found himself conversing with one Ann O’ Connor ’74 of Hicksville, Long Island.
In the event, Rothman was so turned off by the beery confabulation that he had been on the verge of leaving. Then, somehow, he looked up and there was this gorgeous girl with long flowing red hair holding out a cup of beer to him.
“Hi, care for a beer?”
“My name is Ann.”
“So, how do you like this place?” Harold asked, after an embarrassed pause.
“Oh, it’s okay. Certainly enough men around here,” she said calmly sizing up the beery, frat types gathered about. “Too bad most of them are jerks.”
So she was beautiful — and she had a sense of humor. Two strikes in her favor.
Maybe, Harold said to himself, maybe I’ll stick around.
Harold had found his spawn on the lawn.