Life Lessons

Ich ‘Ben’ ein Razorbacker

Ben Pollock on 09-30-1978
Giving ’em the slip
Ben Pollock, probably 30 September 1978, thus age 20, playing Tulane at home, Palo Alto.
Photo by Robby Beyers, @ .

A few days ago, a fellow journalist asked me if I planned to grow a goatee for her skit in next month’s Northwest Arkansas Gridiron, the annual satirical sketch revue of the local SPJ.

I asked the show’s coordinator, who reminded me that I should look clean-shaven for another skit. Yea, saved by a practical matter!

I am a laid-off journalist. I’ve been freelancing — reporting, public relations, web content and design — surprisingly successfully, but full-time employment remains the need and the goal.

Now is not the time for facial hair, especially as it’ll be scraggly in its first weeks, right? So September/October would be the time I land the TERRIFIC interview and offer, unlike the last 13 months?

In the spirit of “it just doesn’t matter,” I present a photo found online six months ago. If I located it, the web ‘bots of anyone’s Human Resources would find it.

In 1970, as a preteen baritone/euphonium player in Fort Smith, Arkansas, I watched Stanford play the Razorbacks on TV. The band members at halftime dropped their trousers, but, never fear, they were wearing swimsuits in a salute to the beach or some-such. But the ABC cameras swooped up, just in case the nation was being mooned by West Coast college pranksters.

That’s what persuaded me to apply to the California university and join the band when the time came, provided needed scholarships, work-study jobs and student loans came in. They did, so I played in the Stanford Band — the only valve trombonist in the conference — and graduated in four years from the esteemed school.

Hence the photo. I found it last March. I have no recollection of which game/show/formation this is, where all of us (see my pals in background) apparently have dropped trou’ to reveal slips. Stanford Daily photographer Robby Beyers dated it Oct. 1, 1978, a Sunday, so probably it was shot Sept. 30, meaning the Tulane game.

I do, however, have a memory of sweaty bulky discomfort of the garment stuffed around our hips inside our wool pants for previous parts of the program, not to mention the first half of the ballgame.

Not visible in this picture is my usual wild bow tie. Barely seen is the plastic nose-and-mustache from a Groucho mask threaded onto my trombone mouthpiece. The crowning achievement is an Arkansas Razorback molded hat. For maximum field visibility, I weekly painted the tusks white with Liquid Paper and outlined other parts with black marker.

That was no Freudian slip.

Ich bin ein Razorbacker.

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