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Dale said goodbye and walked upstairs.
Peggy waved then she hurried to her first class, Intro to Psychology. But she got a shock when she walked in. Dr. Hayes was nearly naked, painted head to toe in green and gold paint wearing only a large 'SOUTHERN'S DOGFOOD' button on his loincloth.
"Abnormal behavior becomes the norm in certain situations." He began the lecture. "Any other time of the year if I had walked across campus like this I would probably need bailed out of jail, but this week, it is accepted and almost even expected." The room laughed.
Dale's Greek math class was almost sane compared to the rest of the campus. But they were already going when he got there.
"You're not late Dale, we're early." Ralph shouted over the screeching of Bill Crowly and Mr. Blumn. "They are discussing your idea about light decay. A fascinating concept, boy. Good job. What's your girlfriend look like naked?" Ralph asked straight-faced.
"Better than you." Dale said, he was learning. Slowly.
"No doubt." Ralph said taking another bite of whatever he was eating.
"I would hope so. Damn." Canney added.
Blumn was of the opinion that light in space was eternal, it just diffused until it was insignificant, but it was still there.
"Go soak yourself!" Crowly shouted and waved his arms.
Dr. Harrison stopped the discussion when he came into the room towing six pompon girls and three guys with saxophones. The girls attacked the class with pins and paint and ribbons and whatever else while the horns played. Besides Dale now the only one anything spirit related was the tie Dr. Canney was wearing with the school seal on it, but he got painted anyway. They left the room in disarray.
Dr. Varscroft tried to restore some sort of order but gave up. Dale sat down and played the new improved space war on the computer. But in a minute he heard Bilbo, that is, Dr. Harrison mention his name.
"If Dale can grasp the concept that not all light is not stable why can't you?" He was pointing his finger at Canney. The fat man leaned back in his chair.
"OK, I mean, My Good Doctor Harrison, let's test that, Dale my boy, please tell us about your theory of the instability of light."
Mary had always enjoyed all the hoopla of homecoming, from a distance, she loved the parade, the parties, the silliness, only participating from a distance. But now she found herself in the middle of it.
"Mary, the house took a vote. You're our representative in the homecoming Queen contest. The first one we've had in two years. Congrats! BRING BEER FOR A TOAST!" Steve announced as they stood around eating.
"Vote? I didn't vote." Jack said.
"You mean you would have voted for Bud instead of your bride to be?"
"Ahhh, no, Mary's got better legs." She threw a hot dog at him.
Dale turned around in his chair, "You want me to explain my, errr, theory of . .. the decay..."
"The decay of light in a vacuum without negative outside influence." Dr. Canney explained the question to Dale. "Simms said the theory said something about the internal resonance of the photon could predispose the photon to decay anywhere in real time because time inside the photon is relative. So how could the energy inside one photon be formed within the cohesion of the photon with this one infinitely stable and the next not?" The heavy man took a breath. "I say all photons are created equal and infinite. Now explain the theory."
Dale shuffled in his seat. He wasn't aware that his theory was that complicated, it didn't start out that way. But something Canney had said had rung a bell, of sorts.
"You are both right." He said, "Ahhh, all things of light are, ahh, formed equal, when the nuke in the star breaks atoms and ahhhh, light comes out. And they are all, ah, permi, infinitely relative, yeah, its just some are like, more equal than others. They ah, last longer. You know?"
Somewhere in there Canney did see some light. He was scribbling on his notebook. "The boy's a genius. He's right. Infinity is relative."
"So its official, we'll pay for your gown Mary, but it'll have to be ready to wear. This is a little short notice.' Steve said, she was still thinking this was a joke. Barry handed her a folder, 'Queen contest contestants info' was stamped on the outside of it under the school seal.
Doug, '76 made the toast. Everybody cheered. Mary was still a little dazed. She knew the centerfold quality girls the frats put up, and the pageant veterans from the sororities, she was not in their league.
"I'm not that pretty." She said weakly. This was met by all sorts of comments and whistles. "I don't know what to do." Cindy said they'd coach her. "I don't have a thing to wear." Was her final objection.
"Perfect! You'll win for sure!" Hairy shouted. Jack poured his beer on him.
"Alcohol abuse!" Hairy screamed.
Mary said she'd have to think about it.
"Think quick, ahh, I sort of already told the paper you were our entry, and they, well," He looked at his watch, "The Spirit of the Night special will be out in about three or four hours. You'll be in it."
She looked at the crowd, many of them her friends, Cindy, Maggie, Jack's friends, some of the house guys she barely knew by name, and of course Doug, '76. They were holding their breath. "OK!"
More cheers and beer splashing.
Then an unearthly scream shook the house from cracked foundation to rotten roof.
"Billy's seen what you did to our room." Jack said.
Ralph pounded Dale on his back and stuck a lit cigar in the new genius's mouth. Dale had no idea what to do with a big stinking cigar. Crowley was up on the blackboard putting what Dale had said in mathematical language with lots of squiggles and signs Dale had seen on frats around campus. Dr. Canney started arguing with Harrison about whether all quantum particles had the same property of limited infinite relative existence if not disturbed by outside influence. Dr. Varscroft had been listening to the discussion with great interest, then he started punching keys on his desk computer and chatting on the phone, then hitting more keys.
Dale was lost by the procedure, but he was unable to return to his computer game because somebody kept asking him about fine points in his theory.
Questions like "Do you think Professor Hawking considered the self contained universe inside the photon as a separate state of the general universe in the Unified Theory?" made Dale's ears itch.
He couldn't answer, which was no problem, after he stuttered for a minute the one asking the question would answer it himself. Peggy stood inside the door for several minutes listening and watching the commotion of heavy theoretical work in progress, she was flabbergasted, a thin older black man that Mary didn't know asked Dale, "If nontypical photons containing tachyons and other relativistic particles were created in the same fashion as a typical particle would it be governed by the same internal non-relativistic laws as the other, and if so would its infinite life span also be limited?" Peggy decided the man had had too much coffee if he could get that out in one breath. Dales answer shocked her, she spoke his name softly.
"Why not Mr. Crowley? It's still a photon, to be a photon it has to obey the photon laws." Dale said. He heard a familiar voice. "Peggy! What are you doing out of class?"
"Dale, its lunch time. You weren't in seminar and nobody had seen you, I thought maybe you were here playing that game. This doesn't sound like a game."
"Hey Dale! You're right. She would be better looking naked than I do."
"Drop dead relativitistically and in real time too Ralph!" Dale told him with no hesitation and just a little edge in his voice.
The shouting and screaming from upstairs subsided. Billy stomped out of the house, looking to violate somebody's civil rights. He was stopped before he could beat up the homecoming queen candidate.
"Billy I was just cleaning up so Jack can move out." She said to him.
"Move out? Where's Jack going?" He said with a strange look on his face.
"We're getting married." Everybody cheered and toasted again.
Dr. Varscroft looked up at Peggy from his screen. He stood up and clapped sharply, the discussion died. Peggy thought for a second she was in trouble.
"The young lady is right. It's lunchtime. But I want to continue this investigation, I believe we are close to a breakthrough beyond the current theory limits. I was checking with some national databases, Stanford and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory haven't pursued this line yet. We are on the edge!" He nodded to Dale. "Dale I will get you excused with credit from your classes for the duration under the research clause, you are board the Starship Discovery! Miss Peggy, join us for lunch at the research fellows cafeteria. I will buy the young lady's lunch so I don't have to listen to you fruitcakes." He extended his arm to her.
There were cheers at the news that they were possibly going where no one had gone in theory, there was much congratulating of each other as they followed Varscroft down the hall. He was telling Peggy how exciting this all was.
Dale had never been in this section of the Student Union before, he was told that this is the old building, the old Student Center, which was what some people still called the whole building, this was grad student turf, with the lounge above, a special bookstore, and a dining area for professors and others.
Dale was impressed.
Billy sagged at the news, "Married. Married? Jack. Just say no. Think of all the bimbos you'll miss, all the beer we could drink, hell man, you'll never attend another demolition derby. Jack! Marriage makes real men into husbands. Married, another roomie bites the dust." His voice got sad as he looked at his roomie.
Jack laughed, "I've never been to a demolition derby Billy. I want to do this. Besides, now you can have the room to yourself."
Billy thought about it, he took a sausage sandwich from Doug, '76 who introduced himself with "Doug, '76. My room used to be pretty bad too."
"Well Jack, so when are you going to move into the married dorm?"
Jack stared at his roommate. Mary looked like she was just told she was up for an IRS audit. They looked at each other.
"Campus Married Student Housing." They said together.
"Where is it?" Jack asked, Mary shrugged, she had heard of it, it did exist, but it didn't have parties, it didn't seem to have any voice in student government anybody listened too. Jack knew a couple of basketball players that lived there last year, but they showed up for games and practice and left right afterwards. One of them had stopped by the house for a beer once or twice, and that was it.
"Friends," Larkin said slowly, putting his arms around both of them. "Do you know that old brick building sort of across from the media center, the one with the big bushes and the white wrought iron fence around it?"
They nodded, Mary said, "The one that looks like an old folks home? No, that can't be. It's so... so...."
"Dull." Larkin said in his deep baritone. "Married dull."
The old section of the building looked old, felt old, and even smelled like old waxed floors and aging plaster. Dale just followed Dr. Varscroft and Peggy up stairs and down halls until they came to something called, 'the Research Fellows Dining Room'. An impressive Victorian room decorated with research type things. Varscroft explained to the uniformed man at the door who and what his party was, and they were allowed in. The room was decorated with all sorts of odd art. A massive painting of the Mount Palomar observatory dominated one wall, other paintings of scientists, and facilities hung here and there, in the center was a model of the main building of the Fermi accelerator.
The centerpiece of the buffet table was a large microscope, Dale had never seen a roomful of scientists before, they weren't discussing new formulas or a broken electron microscope, Dale heard conversations about the St Louis Blues, a woman that hated underwear, and other non-science things as he passed occupied tables while in the buffet line.
Dale expected standard cafeteria fare, he got roast beef and baked potatoes with broccoli salad and tuna stuffed tomatoes. Dale was impressed.
Peggy seemed to be the life of the party, there was a noticeable lack of women in the room, a few here and there, part of the problem was the buffet lacked a salad bar, the other was most women felt self conscious in a room lacking in females.
Peggy didn't seem to notice. Dr. Varscroft was excellent company. Dale didn't know it but the professor was talking about him, how he was grasping the subject without the corruption of several years of formal math and science. Oh, sure he lacked the ability to put his idea into a working formula, but he seemed to have an instinct for the behavior of the particles under discussion. Now Peggy was impressed.
It was very late when they snuck back into the music annex. Mary hadn't had a chance to turn the key back in and they wondered if the room had been rented again, or the lock had been changed or something, but when they got there the room hadn't been disturbed and there was no hate mail taped to the door.
They went inside and collapsed on the bed laughing.
They held each other for a long time, but the excitement of the day overwhelmed them, soon they had fallen asleep, but they were so happy they didn't notice.
Monday morning still came however, and the Prairie Dog Brass were in to practice their version of a rousing jazz number. Mary and her future husband were jolted suddenly awake. The jazz was good, but not at six thirty in the morning, and a MONDAY morning at that. The couple rolled out of bed and fled back to the Independent House for breakfast. Mary demanded a chance to shower and change at her dorm, but she didn't want to let Jack out of her sight. So Jack got ready, then they went to her room and she got ready. They were so happy they didn't even notice the green and gold street.
Jack was the first one to realize that Homecoming week had started, his first clue was streamers hanging from the lights in the hallway outside Mary's room. They walked toward the academic buildings looking at the decorations that dominated every stationary object on the campus. Nearly every tree had been decorated until the tree couldn't be seen under the stuff hanging off it, it seemed the hardwoods had suddenly sprung gold and green leaves to replace the ones that had fallen a few weeks ago, the evergreens had been decorated by a color blind Santa with an odd taste for ornaments.
Jack was amazed that the Student Union had been spared. In fact, it had been forgotten. The Homecoming coordination committee had been so wrapped up in making sure every building had a committee, every academic building had a faculty coordinator, that every tree had a group of volunteers, and so on, and all of it secret and hush hush, that they forgot to line somebody up to do the building the committee had been meeting in and nobody noticed until Monday when they were going to breakfast. The building manager did notice very early that morning, figured out what was wrong, and came up with a plan. He dug through old boxes, unwrapped old school spirit flags, and got enough other out dated junk to set up a display inside, let the outside be plain, his theme was, 'the Spirit's inside the Prairie Dogs.'
"OK, so its corny, what do you want on short notice?" He told the committee chair when questioned.
After lunch they returned to the classroom where the discussion started anew by covering what they had covered that morning, and how to proceed from there. Dale started the computer war and showed Peggy how to play, Dr. Canney was arguing with Mr. Crowley about having two completely new mathematical symbols for their new photons, one that would be for photons whose relative state of infinity was known, that is, it had already died or was measurably dying. Crowley wanted another one for his favorite topic, the unknown state of the photons.
Dale had half overheard that discussion while Peggy was going through her preflight drill on the computer, he thought of something. "Ahhh, Doctor Canney, wouldn't you need three symbols, the third one being a, a photon that had reached the moment of death, but hadn't become, ah, non-relative yet." Peggy looked up from the game. That had come from Dale, their Dale, the Dale that routinely locked himself out of his room, and didn't know the shower head in the community shower on the floor was adjustable to massage or just spray. She looked at Dr. Canney, the fat man's face was all screwed up.
Mr. Crowley had already considered Dale's idea, "Yes indeed boy, I had been wondering the same thing, I'll name it after your girlfriend here."
Peggy was startled by the news that they would name a new theoretical form of light after her)(. They decided to call it 'PH'. And Dr. Canney updated the computer bulletin board with this representation (of the photon which has reached the relative point of destabilization, even though they hadn't yet figured out what caused it to be stable this instant and unstable the next. That was the discussion for the rest of the day.
Peggy begged permission to leave so she could go to her poetry class, she was taking a 'real' poetry class, not Dale's modern poetry. Dr. Varscroft told her they would probably be going at it full blast when she got back, he asked her to order several pizza's when her class was done because theoretical physics is hungry work and they'd probably forget supper like they had lunch.
Mary had a light breakfast, for some reason she felt if she ate lightly she would loose a few pounds before the homecoming queen contest. Jack ate like a starving athlete, which he was. He was ready for the full dress practices, and next week, two scrimmages against a local league team, and a game against the Canadian National team who would be on tour in the area, then they could begin their season, they would be in last place all season unless they won every remaining game. This was not the way he had wanted to end his college sports career, at least he knew he had done the right thing.
By three that afternoon Peggy was on her way back to the debate, she had ordered the pizza's and some drinks, and stopped to pick up the Homecoming issue of the paper. It was full of odd details and pictures of girls nominated to the queen contest. Peggy could hear the discussion of the steady state theory of the infinity of light at the top of the stairs. There were a couple more people in the room, she was glad she had ordered extra pizzas, she had figured Ralph and Harrison could eat a whole pizza each. Peggy saw Dale at the blackboard, he was drawing circles and Mr. Blumn was writing all sorts of numbers and symbols by them, Dr Varscroft was typing at the computer and yelling into a telephone.
Valerie was there, sorting papers and throwing some away, An older woman sat in a corner, oblivious to it all, reading. Peggy walked around and started collecting empty cans, candy wrappers, and wads of discarded paper. Two pizza delivery people arrived shortly with the order, Dr. Varscroft never looked up, he just waved some money at her, and she completed the transaction. Since everybody else seemed busy Valerie helped her pass out food and drink. The discussion was deep and strange. "These people talk about those light things like they are alive" Peggy said to Valerie.
"You haven't heard anything yet." Valerie told her.
Mary's classes were almost a joke, she only had one class with another girl who was up for queen, so she had a lot of explaining to do as soon as she walked into the door of any class, except one. Her American history class was the one class in which she believed the teacher didn't know there was a homecoming. She was not in school colors, she always wore clothes that made her seem even older than she was, and she talked from the time the class started, until about two minutes before the class ended about her one and only true love and passion: American History.
Many in her classes never even knew her first name, she didn't have a PhD, in fact she hadn't even graduated from high school, though she did have a Masters in History now. Miss Amberjoyce lived American History, she had been written up in several articles as a true expert on every aspect of U.S. history. If you named an historical marker, she had probably been there. She traveled all summer every summer to every obscure and forgotten historic site in the country, photographing, describing, and collecting information on them, "Because," she said, "somebody has to remember!"
Miss Amberjoyce was a real treasure the University had only recently recognized for what she was. There was now a subsection in the history department headed by a grad student with two undergrad assistants, cataloguing, recording on microfilm, and preserving data and artifacts from all fifty states, several territories, and a few foreign battlefields that had taken the lady a lifetime to gather. She had collected all this and arranged it in a system that made sense to her, by the year of her visit to the site. For instance, her record of her visit to the Mason-Dixon line marker on the Maryland-Delaware line is in the same file as a thick file on Jamestown, right next to a fact sheet on the Chesapeake Bay bridge-tunnel, even though these events are separated by several hundred years and a few hundred miles, they are in the same file. She was at all three during spring break in 1983, and so they were filed. It made complete sense to her, and she could find anything she wanted, right down to a particular snapshot of the old Plymouth rock, even though she had been there several times, she knew the one she wanted was in the 1963 file, not in 1978. This drove the students sorting the files crazy. She loved it.
The discussion got rather heated when they tried to decide whether to pursue the formation of the light photons, or try to discover what could lead to the breakdown of the particle later in its ~ and Peggy were taking turns on the computer game, Dr. Varscroft was in his office faxing stuff to M.I.T. Ralph had fallen asleep on the drafting table, Dr. Canney had run into a creative dead end and had went in search of 'elixir'. Dr. Harrison was smoking cigars and sitting in deep thought.
"Any time now." Valerie whispered.
The American history class began pretty much as usual, with one slight difference, the class picked up on it in a few minutes, the subject was not on war production and related industrial increases in productivity and technology during four of the US's major wars, which was where they had left off on Friday. It was starting to sound like a pep talk.
Miss Amberjoyce was recounting, in her formal classroom English and maddeningly precise manner of speech the rise of college sports in general and football in particular since the origination of the concept over a century and a half ago.
Starting with a corruption of rugby around 1845, the first recorded game of something like 'football' was in November, 1869. Though several clubs had played before that, since about the late 1850's, it wasn't really football. THE GAME! between Princeton and Rutgers started it all. Right after that a more or less real football game was played between Harvard and a Canadian school, then another which was almost recognizable as modern football between Harvard and Yale. By 1880 college football was up and running, ha, from New England into the Midwest.
Ralph Cook was probably at his deep thinking best while asleep, but sometimes he forgot that. Mr. Blumn was mulling over an idea he couldn't quiet put his finger on. Dr. Canney returned with a half-gallon of vodka and a bag full of mixers, he had already been into the vodka, he sat up a bar at an experimental station.
"BILBO!" Mr. Blumn shouted. Dr. Harrison started from deep thought.
"Booze you worthless brain dead TV addict." Canney said.
Harrison kicked Ralph's chair. The grubby man snorted and swore.
Ralph looked around bleary eyed. "Ahhh, life's blood" He smiled at the bottle of real Polish vodka made by real Poles in New Jersey.
The older woman had Canney pour her a stiff one over some crushed ice. "I found something." She said slowly and quietly. The others looked at her with grave respect. "When Dr. Varscroft returns I'll fill you in."
Dale had no idea who the woman was. Peggy asked Valerie, she said the woman was attached to the department in some sort of way, but she didn't know any more.
Dr. Varscroft walked back into the room, "There is to be no alcohol consumption in academic buildings." He said dryly, "Half a glass, rocks, limed lightly." He took the offered glass that was already made, he took a sip. "Not bad considering you bought that damn cheap vodka again."
The lady cleared her throat. They all looked at her. She stood in the front of the room like she was been accustomed to it. The room got quiet.
Her lecture was interesting to most of the people in the room, she had Slides from the 1870's showing games in progress, no helmets, no pads, and no organization, "The game hasn't changed much really". She said to a chuckle from the room.
The lady spoke with a soft but firm voice. She described what she had found in an old book about light theory, "Light rays can be formed in variable intensities given the instability on the sun's surface." She recited. "That should say photon of light but that was early last century, the concept was not any better defined until a 1965 edition. They then believed that gravity from a large star could effect the light radiating from it, it would still be traveling at light speed, but with less energy, this could be part of our puzzle about determining the infinity," The lady took a small sip of her drink. "There was much advancement in the seventies, but it was in fits and starts, and always just around the parameters of our inquiry, of course Hawking and some of the others hinted at this, but it was never seriously pursued, they were after bigger fish." She straightened, Dale realized that she was what he had heard called, 'a handsome women'. Dignified, well kept, stately in her demeanor carrying herself with grace and propriety. She looked around and finished her speech, "By my review of the body of work, we are on new ground."
They all cheered.
She finished her day and found herself alone, Jack was at a closed practice, so she wandered around to see some more decorations, and found herself staring at the decorations on the married student dorm. She couldn't resist, she went inside.
The building was the quietest dorm she had ever been in. There was only a hint of music from down one hall, a child of about three was climbing up the stairs, followed a moment later by a young woman with a clothes basket. "Hi!" The mother greeted her, Mary smiled and the woman followed the child up the stairs. They disappeared around a bend in the stairs, Mary walked down the main hall. The 'H' shaped building was one of the megaliths built in the heady expansion of the fifties, the main hallway had a marble floor, the side halls all ceramic tile, footsteps echoed, any other sound was muffled by the heavy plaster and arched ceilings.
She found the TV lounge, it was empty, she had never seen a dorm TV lounge empty before. The kitchenette was spotless, and it smelled of freshly cooked pork chops. The dorm was lightly decorated inside and out for homecoming, it would probably be within standards of other universities, with a more or less normal homecoming, but this place, with the ordained insanity and pure wackiness that appeared for a seven day run of nearly unchecked silliness in the name of the Evergreen and Gold, was something special.
For example, a fraternity had taken out a full page ad in the paper promising to levitate their building for the Spirit Judging later that week. The odds makers said, if they could pull it off, or up, as the case may be, they'd win, hands down, or err, up.
Cont in Two Dorms Part 23
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