Web Exclusives: Inky Dinky Do
a PAW web exclusive column by Hugh O'Bleary
April 24, 2002:
Hello, Mudda, Hello, Fadda. Here am I at Camp Alma Mata
By Hugh O'Bleary
It is spring, and a young mans fancy turns to to what?
To summer internships, to judge by the undergraduate conversations
I hear. But what do I know about young these days? I do know that
my friend Clyde Hasselmans fancy turns toward what it always
turns toward: half-baked schemes to make a quick buck.
Hasselman (who, come to think of it, has a name of almost Dickensian
aptness) called last week to set up a lunch. Now, dont get
me wrong, Clyde can be diverting company at a ballgame or over a
couple of beers, but I knew that whatever pleasure this meal brought
was going to come with a price Id have to listen to
some new concept and then be hit up for "seed" money.
Once it had literally been seed money, as Hasselmans vision
that year had involved growing sunflowers for solar energy. Then
there was his plan to run gourmet barge tours on the Delaware &
Raritan Canal (which came a cropper when the mule ran off), or his
concept for a talking golf ball featuring speakers tucked into the
dimples and a recorded voice that yelled, "Ouch! You da man!"
when you teed off and "Hey, Im over here," when
lost in the rough. (Hes still hoping for an endorsement from
Tiger Woods.) Of course, Hasselman has had, as he puts it, "some
dumb ideas too," so I wasnt sure what to expect when
I sat down at the Annex last week.
It didnt take long. His mouth stuffed with baked scrod (I
had the omelet), Clyde began talking about my "Princeton connections."
I have no Princeton connections, of course, beyond football season
tickets (15-yard line, mind you) and a Dinky parking pass, but Clyde
seems to think I hob-nob regularly with Shirley Tilghman.
"Im telling you," he said, "as soon as the
administration hears this idea theyre going to run with it.
Run with it, OBleary!"
I couldnt help myself.
"Whats the idea," I said.
"Fantasy," he said, grabbing a French fry off my plate.
I must have looked puzzled.
"Fan-ta-zee," he said.
I must have looked just as puzzled.
"Look, OBleary, what happens on campus during the summer?"
"Nothing," I said.
"Wrong!" he said. "Everything happens. Princeton
runs a thousand programs, courses, camps, all summer, every summer.
The campus is crawling with adults and kids basketball campers,
cross-country runners, band members, language students every
one of them paying good money to use Princeton facilities and stay
in Princeton dorms. Its a gold mine." He paused, a smile
spreading across his face.
"Wheres the fantasy," I asked.
"Here!" he said, slapping a glossy, four-color brochure
on the table. "I had this printed up. Just imagine."
The cover featured a photograph of a rather dumpy looking middle-aged
couple wearing matching Princeton T-shirts and posing in front of
Nassau Hall. Across the top was printed A TASTE OF IVY GOING
BACK FOR THOSE WHO NEVER WENT.
"I dont get it," I said.
"Fantasy camp," he said. "Like for guys who wanna
know what its like to play in the big leagues they
pay big bucks to go field grounders from Yankees benchwarmers and
listen to Phil Rizzuto tell stories. This would be for all the people
Princeton parents who wanna know what their kids experience
is like, high school dropouts, Rutgers grads who have ever
fantasized about going to Princeton."
He spread the brochure out across my omelet. "If you could
just get this to somebody in the Summer Programs department, wed
have ourselves a winner."
Against my better judgment, I looked down and began to read. "Spend
a heavenly week on the other side of paradise!" the headline
screamed. "Its books, bickers and bingeing, as YOU live
the life of a Princeton student." I had to hand it to Hasselman.
He had thought of everything. "The experience begins with the
ADMISSIONS PROCESS," the brochure read. "After
taking a realisticly grueling mock-SAT test, you will have your
scores sent to the Admissions office, where
your case will be carefully weighed by an actual former intern to
Dean Hargadon, who pending clearance of your check
will send out a reproduction of an actual acceptance letter (just
like the ones sent to thousands of Princeton acceptees every April).
From there, Hasselman had mapped out a whirlwind week for his campers
that included everything from "the temporary dorm experience"
(which seemd to involve mobile homes) to "the challenge of
the senior thesis" (working with "actual former Princeton
applicants" as advisers, campers would "select a thesis
topic, perform research on the Internet and deliver an outline,"
and then in the afternoon, "write or photocopy a 100- to 150-page
thesis" which would be "graded according to rigorous Princeton-like
standards" by "a specially-qualified reader").
"Well graduate em on Friday afternoon, and then
bus em back in on Saturday morning for their own P-rade,"
said Clyde. "How many campers do you envision in each session,"
was all I could think to ask.
"I figure we can take 100 at a time," he said. "And
no more than 30 per cent can be legacies!"
I wonder how that golf balls coming.
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