Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Up a stair, down a stair, Gérard declined to go

Of course we couldn't help but notice this in crew practice, when it came time to run the stadium steps. Spontaneously, there was no Gérard; and if you know anything about rowing, you know it won't do for a seat to be vacant. Steps needed to be taken, and we took turns in hauling him with us. To this day we couldn't measure how greatly this perfected our co-ordination, to say nothing of our reach.

He drew the same limit when it came to attending lectures on different floors. He tasked a spaniel, Alistair, to keep him in the know. Such was the condition of his rural habitation with an English dog, that Gérard seldom saw any paintings, given their claim of time between Alistair’s hours of exercise. To these considerations, moreover, was added his awe toward the tedium and expense of dressing. These all have to be cited as complications, for an Art major. Gérard did always wonder which foulard would go best with Kandinsky, whence he acquired some drawings, only to find he adored Cassatt. So we began to remark on Michelangelo to him, and his catch and stroke were much im-proved, almost burnished, one could say.

If all of this should sound as if Gérard had inculcated in us a kind of expectation, of having to go to him, it couldn't be said that a reluctance played any part in that endeavour. He was infallibly present for all our banquets, but not merely for the reason that he was the one who gave them. If we smile, in retrospect, on his aversion to staircases or his odd but surpassing sensibility in dress, it isn't to make him out to be some figure in Waugh. To a man, I know none of us would have expected to discover the proper age for the ingredients in a service of frogs legs; and I doubt very much if such an understanding were not worth any amount of deference. Every sinew has its season, he would say, and plate the beast accordingly.

It wasn't, indeed, until Gérard made known an insistence on his own coxswain that his separation from our boat ever did begin to cross anyone's mind. To be fair, he had gone to scrupulous lengths to co-ordinate his choice with the requisite weight, loudness, and adamancy. No, and it was not even the novelty of one of us, asserting that prerogative. It was, of course, that all the seats were taken, as finally began to dawn even on Gérard, who never associ-ated a circumstance with some kind of constraint. This made us quite endlessly grateful to be educated with him, but it did take its toll on our recruitment of his presence in our boat, and that of Alistair.


  1. I don't know about Gerard - but I would never be late or amiss to be in the arms of the first couple above in the B&W portrayal

  2. Gérard had come in for a bit of a snub from Milton only a day or two ago, and I thought it best to remind ourselves that we really do regard him with very great and loyal affection. He's a compilation of reality and whimsy (not to be redundant) which I happen to like very, very much. Moreover, as we always see, his innocent and dauntless disposition does expose him to jest, but he's untouchably marvelous. :)