I've met someone. Aren't those the three loveliest words in the English language? They are right up there with "free drinks here" or "it's not cancer". I know the timing couldn't be worse, me about to leave not-Yale forever, or at least until grad school, and everything in my life changing, the economy in shreds, the world in chaos, but some attractions are too strong to be denied, regardless of timing or circumstance. Think of the great love stories of history, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Scarlett and Rhett, Jason and Medea, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, these are the couples of our times! Okay, most of them ended poorly, I'll admit, but the principal is sound. And so I'm not going to apologize or be ashamed of my mad love affair. Passionate, devastatingly attractive, wild about me, what girl could resist? And so, gentle readers, I must let you know. I'm in love with someone. And his name is Handsome Dan.
As you all know, there are a lot of things I dislike about not-Yale. The weather, the attitude, most of the student body, the list goes on and on. But the one element I have never ever had the tiniest little complaint against, the one part of the whole experience that has never caused a drop of haterade to reach my lips, is our mascot. Bold, brave and beautiful, Handsome Dan stands as an icon of not-Yale in all it's glory, history, and Majesty. Not-Princeton may have it's tiger, not-Brown may have it's bear, not-Harvard may have, well, nobody I've ever met really knows what a "crimson" is, but they've got it, and that's all well and good. But we at not-Yale, we stand firm, we stand proud, (insert the obligatory that's what she said joke right here), we stand with the bulldogs.
Since I first matriculated to not-Yale in the far off era of 2005, my life has been peppered with brief but thrilling glances of Handsome Dan, our sweet and cuddly mascot whom I adore. Like a celebrity stalker I have followed him around the campus like the worst sort of creepster, observing his ever drooling move. Of course this particular dog is not the original Handsome Dan, no, no. The first Handsome Dan has been dead for years, though, because this is not-Yale, after all, renowned for it's oddness, we've have the poor animal stuffed and on display so gawking Japanese tourists can take a gander. This shouldn't surprise you, really, considering not-Yale's other little quirks. We've got strange secret societies with buildings titled "tombs" as a result of their complete lack of windows. We've got a bell tower where eager students volley to play pop hits like Single Ladies. And we've got Harold Bloom. Enough said. So it isn't that odd that we have taxidermed an unsuspecting bulldog and displayed it in public, nor is it odd that I have been following his successor, who is, I believe, the 23rd Handsome Dan in a long line of dogs. Depending, of course, on your definition of odd.
While not-Yale's graduation ceremony is a long and arduous affair spanning three days, I don't want to bore you with the details of this event. What I will say is that yesterday, as I stood, decked out in my graduation robes and hat, a black spot in a writhing sea of black spots, confused and concerned, attempting to come to terms with the end of my college experience as I balanced a stupid square hat on my head, I suddenly saw a flash of fur. What was it? A bird? A plane? NO! It was Handsome Dan! Larger then life and panting in the Memorial Day heat. Oh, he was beautiful, he was glorious, he was everything I had imagined and seen in pictures and more. This was the realization of a four year fantasy, to be with him, to have our moment of perfect and unspoiled love, even as the world around me changed. What was I going to do? Let the moment pass, uncelebrated? Of course not.
In a whirlwind of wild hair and swirling black robes I rushed over to Handsome Dan and his handler, a man in grandiose velvet robes and a ludicrous hat. "May I?" I inquired, reverently. "Of course!" he responded, jovially. As I touched my hand to the top of Handsome Dan's velvety little head and felt his drool on my ballet flats, I realized, I could do this. I've struggle through not-Yale for four years, I can struggle on past it. With Handsome Dan by my side, well, what can't I do?
Still haven't found YOUR Handsome Dan? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njXV0GxKC8w
Leah Franqui is a fairly interesting person/director/writer/reader/eater/drinker. She likes ugly dogs and dislikes her hair in the morning. She's a sucker for environmental causes and plays hardball with deals on chewing gum. She is a struggle.