The Smell of Team Spirit: Whiskey Jack
It was so long ago, and frankly, my college days at Auburn (1966 -1973) were not particularly fun and full of wonderful memories. There are not overwhelmingly bad memories from those years, mind you, but biology majors like me had little time for the social and athletic diversions that my business major roommate indulged in while I studied. The boZos (botany-zoology majors) had labs, labs and more labs, and saw daylight only on field trips.
But Auburn’s recent football prominence did not go entirely unnoticed. It did make me scan back through the archives of those years in the “loveliest village of the plains” for any stories I could retell myself, to possibly help me incite some mild college spirit–just enough to feel a bit of vicarious pride for orange-and-blue sports excellence–for what that’s worth on the current inflated scale of cultural treasures.
I could see in my mind’s eye my skinny self sitting on the hard bleachers way up in the nosebleed section of Cliff Hare Stadium along about 1969. I don’t remember any particular game. What I did recall upon swishing that memory around my mind’s palate was the pervasive smell of bourbon and Rebel Yell, of English Leather, White Shoulders and puke.
And from that, my mind circled briefly around that early exposure to liquor, and from there to Whiskey Jack.
It was a US history pre-requisite that found me there. I recoil at how little curiosity I had in those days for anything that was not directly related to biology. Consequently, at mid-term, my grades could not touch the automatic A’s the professor gave to all the jocks.
I found another fellow-swimmer barely keeping his nose above water. Turns out, he was the incoming student body president. We devised a plan, an end run around our academic indifference toward the goal of a guaranteed B or better. There WAS a way, the worldly-wise fellow-sufferer had learned.
Whisky Jack, it seems, had earned his name over the decades. And it turns out, if you wined and dined him and fawned over him and sucked up in a big way, your grade would rise magically.
Imagine the human embodiment of Foghorn Leghorn. Add fifty pounds and a BrylCream comb-over. That was Whiskey Jack.
We made a date to come to his house for a night on the town. He poured the drinks. (There’s that smell memory again.) And my accomplice and I quickly attempted to move the evening along and get the suffering and boot-licking behind us. But he would have none of it–far too tame for his taste. The plot thickened.
“NAh, you boys got small ideahs. We gonna go to ‘Lanna and find us some guhls.” We blanched at the thought: a night with pickup babes and Foghorn Leghorn as sugar-daddy.
And there the memory trail goes cold. I’m certain we didn’t go to ‘Lanna. We must have stayed closer to Auburn and one of us successfully drove us home. It’s all a blur. Except for the clear memory of theÂ B I got in US History.
Don’t tell my kids.