This will be the only Clemson story I’ll make you suffer through. It is a true story.
One of the reasons that I do not gamble is that I have had an uncanny ability to be on the losing side of the majority of proposition bets that I have made in my life. I have had basketball coaches get technical fouls that have resulted in the team I bet on losing the game by the free throw that went with the technical. I have lost bets on the last play of the game many times. I couldn’t pick a winner in a two horse race. This story is about one of those losing bets.
I had bet a fraternity brother that he couldn’t score twenty points in an intramural basketball game. The loser had to run across the library bridge naked. My frat brother was 6’5″ and was a decent player but it took a lot to score twenty in an intramural game, especially because our team was a bunch of gunners who only passed if they couldn’t shoot and stopped dribbling. I figured I was a lock, not knowing at the time what I know now, that there ain’t no such thing as a lock. I started to figure it out when our opponent showed up, the agricultural fraternity Alpha Gamma Row (aka Grab A Hoe) Fightin’ Farmers. Their nickname should have been the Fightin’ Midgets. My fraternity brother suddenly had a striking resemblance to Wilt Chamberlin. It wasn’t pretty. My frat bro had eighteen at halftime and I was as good as naked. I was a loser shortly after the second half started.
Somehow, the bet did not get paid right on the spot and that allowed me to delay until such time that the bet was almost forgotten. Almost. I might have gotten off Scott free. My fraternity brother did what many thought was impossible. He graduated. That minor miracle happened a year later and I thought that he had forgotten about the bet. No such luck. And he picked a very strange time to remember. It came back to him when he returned to Clemson for homecoming the following fall.
It was a typical homecoming for our gang. I was the only one that had a date and that was over early, real early, before midnight. When I got back to the house after dropping her off around ten thirty, I found a bunch of drunks working hard on staying that way. Nothing unusual about that. That was to be expected. What I didn’t expect was to hear the slurred words that came out of my tall alumnus friend, “You still owe me that bet. You gotta run across the library bridge naked.”
Since my date had been so uneventful, I was up for a little excitement and it didn’t take more than eight or nine shots of Jack Daniels to make me stupid enough to agree to pay up. By then it was after midnight. There aren’t a whole lot of people hanging out at the library at midnight on a Saturday night since it was closed. That limited my exposure, so to speak.
We actually formulated a game plan. It would be a lightning dash across the bridge. My pals would set up a blanket as a finish line tape. I’d hit the tape. We’d jump into a getaway car and go back to celebrate with more drinking. It seemed like a good plan.
The bridge is about 100 yards long and I figured the whole thing could go down in less than two minutes. Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men…oft time get screwed up. We never figured the campus cops into the equation. When the entourage arrived at the scene of the crime, we found the Clemson version of Barney Fife patrolling the library. Only this character wasn’t quite as comical as the Mayberry version. He had a very strange sense of humor.
You see I was there on “probation.” Not from the school, from my parents. My ability to screw off had far exceeded my ability to produce in the classroom and my father had finally drawn the line in the sand. I was paying my own way at this point and if I crossed the line one more time I would be obtaining my higher education in my father’s junkyard which was not nearly as much fun as going to college. I had to be careful. Getting expelled was not an option for me. And I told all this to Barney. I told him that if this stunt was going to get me in trouble, we would leave and that would be the end of it. Barney told me and B Brown that he was a kid once and he knew we were just having a little harmless fun. He told me to go for it. Being both incredibly naive and stupid, I did not see I was getting set up. Barney was a prick.
But I took him at his word. So when the coast was completely clear and there was no one around anywhere except Barney and my drunk buddies, I dropped my drawers and hauled ass, literally. My pals were at the finish line with the blanket. I wrapped up my run, wrapped up my naked butt and jumped into the waiting getaway car. That’s when the real fun began. As we were pulling out of the library parking lot, three cop cars with light blazing and sirens blaring cut off our escape route. Barney called in the calvary. Not good.
The campus cops had us surrounded. There was no escaping. A couple of them came walking up to the car with their flashlights (they were given them in lieu of guns) and shined them in our car. Then I heard those fateful words I’ll never forget, “You in the blanket out of the car.” I’m sure you can imagine what I said. It wasn’t, “Yes sir, officer.”
I had run into the Clemson version of the Keystone Cops. A real bunch of comedians. I’m fairly certain that had I had a chance to get my hands on Barney, the charge would have escalated from indecent exposure to assault and battery. However the only thing I got a chance to put my hands on was the roof of the car. And, of course, when I did that the blanket conformed to the laws of gravity. Those cops thought they were really funny. And so did my friends come to think of it.
The cops weren’t buying any of the “Barney gave me permission” story. That p.o.s. kept saying he tried to stop me. I was so angry and so scared. I felt like both Ricky and Lucy. The last thing I needed was to be calling my parents and having “a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.” Especially about why I was getting thrown out of school.
The cops decided to take it to the next level and threw me in the back seat of one of their cop cars and took me over to the campus police station to jerk me around a little bit more. I will say that those mother*&!$#%s never put the cuffs on me and at that point I started to figure out what was going on but, at the same time, I was still terrified. But I couldn’t let those jerks know that. When we got to the station I decided to go on the offensive. I started accusing the cop of setting me up and I told the cops I was going to make a big stink. I think it may have been the first time I used the “I have an army of Jew lawyers that are going to crawl up your ass with a mining device” talkoff. That they were buying. So after busting my balls for another half an hour, they released me to a bunch of goofballs that were too drunk to drive. Law enforcement at it’s finest. But that was not the end of it. They told me I had to come back on Monday morning and discuss the incident with Chief Weeden, the head campus cop.
They did not tell me that they were not going to tell him about it. So he was quite surprised to hear my strange tale. And he didn’t quite know what to make of it. He tried to keep a straight face when I was telling the story, but he wasn’t doing too good of a job of it. He finally busted out laughing which I didn’t think was too funny, though I realized then that he wasn’t taking it too seriously. Finally, after stifling himself, he told me that I had to go tell my story to the dean. He must of thought the dean would get a kick out of it too. I wasn’t sure. And I was dumb enough to go find out.
I actually went to the dean’s office prepared to tell my ridiculous story and beg for mercy. I never had to. The dean’s secretary told me that the dean was busy and that I would have to wait. Just what I needed, more time to think about what bad things could happen to me. And I didn’t have all day to wait. I had classes and I sure wasn’t going to waste a cut waiting around to find out if I was still going to be a student there. I decided that I was. When it got to where I had ten minutes to get to my next class I decided to blow that pop stand. It stood to reason that if Chief Weeden didn’t know about this then the dean didn’t either and I made up my mind that he wasn’t going to hear about it from me. I told the secretary that I had to go to class and if the dean wanted to see me, he could call me. Of course, I never heard from him and that was the end of it.
The only time that it ever came up again was in the spring. That was the spring of streaking. College campuses around the country competed for the largest streak. I did not participate when running naked around the Clemson campus became the new rage. It was a clear cut case of “been there, done that” long before that expression became a cliche. Too risky for me. With my luck, I would have been the one in five thousand that the campus cops went after and I couldn’t risk being a second offender. Besides I was a pioneer, a trailblazer and the first moron to to ever cross the library bridge naked.
Thanks for indulging me that delightful naked dash down memory lane.