Tufts Enough

October 23rd, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

My uxorial unit and I went to farthest Somerville yesterday to bathe in liberals gone, if not wild, at least demonstrative. A certain junior U.S. senator, a John Forbes Kerry, was up for a foreign-policy/national-security address.

The Cohen auditorium was bit inadequate for the interest level. Its 616 seats were overbooked. Kerry is bright enough, accomplished enough and important enough, but he’s no telegenic movie star or sex god. Yet Tufties are politically savvy and eager to hear a major player in D.C. put down the word.

The wonderful people on Kerry’s staff and Netroots Nation invited this pathetic blogger (not for Harrumph!, rather for the Left Ahead! podcast and Marry in Massachusetts blog).  Terri and Karen saved me two spots, or so I thought, and so I had on my invitation printout.

We arrived at about a quarter to 6 for the 6 p.m. speech. The foyer was chockablock with well-mannered young scragglies. It was like a scene from Blazing Saddles with lots of harrumphing.

The funnel overspill was the result of two petty bureaucrats disguised as campus cops feeling their transient authority. They’d call out that if you were not on the reservation list, you couldn’t get in, go back to your dorm. Then, there was a cry to have your ID ready.

I’m bigger than my wife, so I ran interference between the woe-begotten unreserved masses. However, let us never underestimate the ephemeral power of the foolishly consistent.

The vocal cop-like personage would have none of it. List is a list is a list. The 20-something woman had my name, but neither Terri nor Karen had provided my wife’s. She was thus persona non grata. She, her unworthy self, was not listed on the sacred clipboard sheets. I presented my confirming emails for two invites to the address and following reception. No cigar.

I recognized the blank expression on the cop from my military-family upbringing and my time as a newspaper reporter by Parris Island and the airbase. I’d bet this guy has been a staff sergeant, someone who knew how to take orders, someone who knew rules were rules, someone who’d take charge in lieu of a commissioned officer, and someone who thought only off-duty.

Towering over the petty tyrant and speaking to the ears of the two event organizers behind him, I won. A middle-aged woman with pearls stepped forward and said, “You are your wife are welcome. Come this way.”

She led us down to the fifth row reserved seats and God again was in his heaven.

The students were seemingly all busy with their electronics. Those who were not dicking around with their $600 video cameras were testing the acuity of their cell phone cameras from 25 feet to the podium. It appeared as though we were the only non-students in the hall.

The preparations were wonders of ant-hood before us. Four or five well-dressed students, the modern equivalent of the 1960s A/V squad, scurried here, then there, and back here again. They reminded us strongly of a busybody at our UU church who rushes about in the 15 minutes before the service. Liz turns the altar flowers the tiniest angle and steps back to the first pew to look before repeating the cycle. She then does the same with the chalice. Who knows what would befall the congregation if she did not?

In this case, it started with the mic height. Kerry is tallish, but not a giant. The young man with the closely cropped do and the drab New England suit jacket — looking for all the world like a member of Young Americans for Freedom — was the leading fussbudget. He adjusted and readjusted the mic for height and distance from the inside of the podium a half dozen times. He then turned each of the four American and one Massachusetts flags so they draped in matching patterns, with the canton of the flag facing frontward. Oddly enough, he ignored the five matching potted plants between the podium and stage front. Doing that could have consumed another 14 minutes to no noticeable effect. Finally, he visited and revisited the Plexiglas™ sound baffles on stands next to the mic.

He’ll be a real catch for a sloppy woman or man who needed an anal-retentive counterpoint.

We honestly had so much entertainment before Kerry appeared about 6:20 that the address was merely dessert.

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