Sam's Little Larks

by Sam Van Wetter | 2/18/16 7:44pm

DROGUE SAM and ROGUE SAM are sitting on Collis porch in the mid-winter sun.

DROGUE SAM: Where were you last week?

ROGUE SAM: Where were YOU last week?

DROGUE: I was searching for the carnival sculpture.

ROGUE: You were searching for the carnival sculpture?

DROGUE: Is this week gonna consist entirely of repeat-after-me statements?

ROGUE: This week is gonna consist

entirely of repeat-after-me statements.

DROGUE: Seriously? Come on, Sam, Are you obsessed with me or something? I know I say some clever stuff but —

ROGUE: Of course I’m not. Like I would say the stuff you say myself anyway.

DROGUE: What’s that supposed to mean?

ROGUE: Nothing! Just that I can verbalize my own thoughts. And they’ll probably sound better than whatever you have to say.

DROGUE: Oh yeah?

ROGUE: Yeah. Searching for the carnival sculpture? How’d that go?

DROGUE: It was...largely successful.

ROGUE: Largely successful?

DROGUE: You’re parroting again.

ROGUE: I mean, it’s not like it was a hard job, finding the sculpture.

DROGUE: It wasn’t exactly obvious.

ROGUE: How do you figure?

DROGUE: Well, I checked on Wednesday and it wasn’t there. And then I checked Thursday and it still wasn’t there.

ROGUE: None of it?

DROGUE: I mean, no plywood framing. No spotlights. No pirates frantically shoveling.

ROGUE: And Friday?

DROGUE: It wasn’t there.

ROGUE: Oh really?

DROGUE: It was a sculptureless Winter Carnival.

ROGUE: Are you sure you didn’t see anything on the Green?

DROGUE: I’m pretty sure.

ROGUE: Nothing that looked vaguely like a sculpture?

DROGUE: Nada. Just a traffic cone.

ROGUE: A traffic cone?

DROGUE: Yeah, it was directing traffic on the Green, probably. Lots of alumni come back, I guess it gets busy.

ROGUE: That was the sculpture.

DROGUE: What was the sculpture?

ROGUE: What you thought was a traffic cone was the sculpture. It was a hat.

DROGUE: Wait whay?

ROGUE: It’s a hat — was a hat. Dr. Seuss? Cat in the Hat? I guess it looked like a traffic cone, sort of. Or a layer cake. Or a hat. Which is what it was. A striped top hat from the wintry mind of Theo LeSieg himself.

DROGUE: Mind of...who?

ROGUE: Theo LeSieg! (DROGUE shakes his head blankly) Rosetta Stone? (Still nothing) Theodore Geisel?? (A faint glimmer of recognition) Dr. Seuss!

DROGUE: Oh, like Cat in the Hat!

ROGUE: I said that already —

DROGUE: Shoulda just said so, I would have gotten it. That was the official sculpture? Seemed rather, I don’t know, diminutive.

ROGUE: It wasn’t a Winter Carnival snow sculpture because it was too small??

DROGUE: I don’t know, one year they had, like, this enormous functional ship...

ROGUE: Yeah, and one year they got 15 inches of snow in a winter! And one year they had swarms of students vying to carve a snow monument! And one year it was a cupcake and then it melted and turned into a figurative pile of trash on the middle of the green. The sculpture has been many different and wonderful things! And this year is no different! This year it was rogue! Rogue! That’s what The D called it! This very paper! A rogue sculpture! That’s not a word you just bandy around! Rogue! Those are militias! And guerilla groups! And nations! Sculptures aren’t rogue. But this one was. And they didn’t even have snow! They didn’t get it delivered from the skiway straight to the Green, practically prefabricated! They gathered that snow! They did it for themselves. They took it in trashcans and cars from the golf course and from the parking lots and from the front lawn of EKT. They turned that snow from its horizontal inertness to a vertical, red-striped form that looks great! It looks legendary! And it’s legendary because it wasn’t meant to be. It took the will of individuals, not the institution. It took the commitment of humans, not hegemony! And it happened! They pulled it off! In the spirit of Dr. Seuss they constructed a hat for the whole world to wear! And the best part? Do you know the best part?

DROGUE: Uh, no. I don’t.

ROGUE: No??

DROGUE: Nope. What’s the best part?

ROGUE: They can’t put it on their resume! Because they’re rogue! The entire affair was rogue! And how dare anyone put “rogue” on their resume? It would get thrown out immediately! Employers would see that word and barf in their mouths before ripping up the paper. Rogue isn’t something anyone wants to be.

DROGUE: But they made the sculpture...

ROGUE: But that didn’t improve them. It didn’t improve their resume, their package, what they’re selling. It was the most “Dartmouth” experience they’d ever had, they said to The D, but it wasn’t like the rest of Dartmouth. In the 1950s and 1960s students would spend entire terms building a cabin! Or a trail! Now? People won’t take two hours to help with a bonfire. Instead, they are working on themselves. Taking classes. Finishing homework. Getting internships. Rushing Greek houses. Joining extracurriculars. Starting extracurriculars. Running extracurriculars. They’re volunteering and socializing and studying but they aren’t contributing to their community. They aren’t leaving things for generations of students to come. They’re myopic. They’re busy. But a brave few of them made a sculpture. And that means there has not been a year without a sculpture since the tradition began. And that is a victory, made possible by those brave few.

DROGUE: Yeah, I guess that is pretty neat.

ROGUE: It is.

DROGUE: So you found it?

ROGUE: My bike?

DROGUE: No, what? That was like, two weeks ago. The sculpture.

ROGUE: Oh, yeah. The traffic cone — the hat. Yep. Sculpture. Check.

DROGUE: A relief.

ROGUE: But, uh, Sam. Where is it now?

They look across the Green. It’s overly green for February, ice-slicked and desolate.

ROGUE: It was rogue. Of course it dipped out fast.