4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The Hedgehog Knows One Thing of Great Importance

The athletic teams needed every body they could get.

The first day of higher education started for me with morning ablutions in my own private bathroom. I had one of the few single rooms on the dorm's fourth floor, and baths adjoined no other rooms. Mine came from luck of the draw, but you'd have insisted I had pull in the highest levels of the school's administration. I figured the other students would believe the same thing. The thought terrified me. They will razz me beyond anything I can take, I worried. Maybe they will rough me up.

On the drowsy trek to eight o'clock classes, I fell in behind a freshman football player named Marty who lived several doors down the hall from my room. He was muscular and mountainous, listed in the football program guide as six foot seven and 280 pounds. I could only look at him in awe. In the few days of orientation we already had spent on campus, it seemed that 50 percent of my all-male classmates wore letter sweaters to advertise they were athletes in high school. But here was the genuine article.

At 167 pounds, I had been able to play high school football, too. That was because the school I attended had a student body of 220. There were 17 students in our graduating class. The athletic teams needed every body they could get. Eight thousand students attended the university I now wanted to stick around for four years. On walks over the campus's lush green quads, I already had seen competition furrowed into every face. Most of it would morph from the athletic type to grade-point and social-clique types. But it was competition nonetheless, and I felt it with foreboding.

On this morning, football player Marty walked into the same Introduction to Philosophy class my printed class schedule directed me to do. He flopped, sprawling, into one of the classroom's small desks on the left side of the room, all but making it disappear. I found a seat that allowed me to hug the back wall. For the next hour, a slender middle-aged professor tried to immerse us into the origins of Greek philosophy. He kept harping on a particular saying that he claimed had been a springboard from religion to philosophy.

"The fox knows many things," goes the saying I would ponder for the next several weeks, "but the hedgehog one thing of great importance." As the professor recited it repeatedly with wide, knowing smiles, I noticed Marty incline his head back and roll his eyes. But another student, sitting up front, took keen interest and began holding forth on behalf of the fox. As the student spoke, he gesticulated vehemently and laughed with confidence. This guy, I ruminated in amazement, thinks he will outwit a professor who gives clear signals of being on the hedgehog's side. The professor allowed this to happen all too passively, I judged, wanting him to assert some authority.

Study sessions began in earnest that night on the dorm's fourth floor. The engineering students looked worried as they pored over their calculus assignments under bright table lamps. For now, the rest of us chalked it up to their being the most intellectual among us. The only residents who commanded more respect were the jocks we hoped would return us to the football reputation our university once had maintained.

In a room across the hall from my own, a small group had gathered to examine in awe a set of math homework problems. By ten o'clock the food cart was making its rounds, and everyone poured out to buy chocolate milk, sodas, and snacks. Footballer Marty and a smaller, 240-pound colleague of his appeared. They were laughing about holding, ten minutes earlier, "some egghead" over the stairwell at fourth-floor level to see if he would panic. Rumors had gone round that before school started, with football practice already in session, several players dangled someone out a fourth-floor window upside-down by his feet. Now everyone was yukking the stories up and slapping Marty and his friend on their backs.

Suddenly the conversation turned to my rare bathroom. One loudmouth shouted through a hillbilly guffaw, "How do you rate?" I felt my fears spike. Marty looked at me, recognizing me from class. With a conspiratorial smile, he said to me, "The fox knows many things. How does the rest of it go?" He signaled to his friend to follow him into my room. The two of them climbed onto my well-made bed, their combined 520 pounds jumping up and down until one corner of it smashed to the floor.

That night I slept on a broken-down, slanted bed. But it was the peaceful sleep of knowing that my bathroom had been atoned.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

From John Berryman’s “Eleven Addresses to the Lord”

He, like Robert Lowell, was considered a key poet of the “confessional” school of poetry

The first day of higher education started for me with morning ablutions in my own private bathroom. I had one of the few single rooms on the dorm's fourth floor, and baths adjoined no other rooms. Mine came from luck of the draw, but you'd have insisted I had pull in the highest levels of the school's administration. I figured the other students would believe the same thing. The thought terrified me. They will razz me beyond anything I can take, I worried. Maybe they will rough me up.

On the drowsy trek to eight o'clock classes, I fell in behind a freshman football player named Marty who lived several doors down the hall from my room. He was muscular and mountainous, listed in the football program guide as six foot seven and 280 pounds. I could only look at him in awe. In the few days of orientation we already had spent on campus, it seemed that 50 percent of my all-male classmates wore letter sweaters to advertise they were athletes in high school. But here was the genuine article.

At 167 pounds, I had been able to play high school football, too. That was because the school I attended had a student body of 220. There were 17 students in our graduating class. The athletic teams needed every body they could get. Eight thousand students attended the university I now wanted to stick around for four years. On walks over the campus's lush green quads, I already had seen competition furrowed into every face. Most of it would morph from the athletic type to grade-point and social-clique types. But it was competition nonetheless, and I felt it with foreboding.

On this morning, football player Marty walked into the same Introduction to Philosophy class my printed class schedule directed me to do. He flopped, sprawling, into one of the classroom's small desks on the left side of the room, all but making it disappear. I found a seat that allowed me to hug the back wall. For the next hour, a slender middle-aged professor tried to immerse us into the origins of Greek philosophy. He kept harping on a particular saying that he claimed had been a springboard from religion to philosophy.

"The fox knows many things," goes the saying I would ponder for the next several weeks, "but the hedgehog one thing of great importance." As the professor recited it repeatedly with wide, knowing smiles, I noticed Marty incline his head back and roll his eyes. But another student, sitting up front, took keen interest and began holding forth on behalf of the fox. As the student spoke, he gesticulated vehemently and laughed with confidence. This guy, I ruminated in amazement, thinks he will outwit a professor who gives clear signals of being on the hedgehog's side. The professor allowed this to happen all too passively, I judged, wanting him to assert some authority.

Study sessions began in earnest that night on the dorm's fourth floor. The engineering students looked worried as they pored over their calculus assignments under bright table lamps. For now, the rest of us chalked it up to their being the most intellectual among us. The only residents who commanded more respect were the jocks we hoped would return us to the football reputation our university once had maintained.

In a room across the hall from my own, a small group had gathered to examine in awe a set of math homework problems. By ten o'clock the food cart was making its rounds, and everyone poured out to buy chocolate milk, sodas, and snacks. Footballer Marty and a smaller, 240-pound colleague of his appeared. They were laughing about holding, ten minutes earlier, "some egghead" over the stairwell at fourth-floor level to see if he would panic. Rumors had gone round that before school started, with football practice already in session, several players dangled someone out a fourth-floor window upside-down by his feet. Now everyone was yukking the stories up and slapping Marty and his friend on their backs.

Suddenly the conversation turned to my rare bathroom. One loudmouth shouted through a hillbilly guffaw, "How do you rate?" I felt my fears spike. Marty looked at me, recognizing me from class. With a conspiratorial smile, he said to me, "The fox knows many things. How does the rest of it go?" He signaled to his friend to follow him into my room. The two of them climbed onto my well-made bed, their combined 520 pounds jumping up and down until one corner of it smashed to the floor.

That night I slept on a broken-down, slanted bed. But it was the peaceful sleep of knowing that my bathroom had been atoned.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Will Horton Plaza's office complex foreshadow the city's homeless housing?

Todd Gloria, Nora Vargas cheering on the subsidies
Next Article

The problem with Coronado’s 4x4 accelerated learning

Damage to kids’ lives
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close