By DAVID GREEN
“I FEEL like a lecher,” said WillieMow. Well, maybe. By common usage, we were lechers, but is that really the accurate definition? Hold on a moment; let me consult my Webster’s.
Lecher: a man given to excessive or promiscuous sexual indulgence. No, that wasn’t us. We were just watching the parade. And besides, my wife was there with us.
First, a short who’s who. WillieMow is actually David Wilamowski. He’s a friend of 20-some years who passes through the area every now and then. His most recent job was to study a rare flycatcher bird in southern California. He’s done that sort of thing before in Panama, setting up what are called “mist nets”—a nearly invisible mesh used to snare birds for banding.
Since the flycatcher winters in South America, WillieMow hopes to do a little migrating himself. If everything works out right, he’ll fly to Ecuador for a month of banding in December.
And since he’s there, he’ll look around the continent a little, finally ending up in southern Brazil. That’s where he wants to be anyway. He loves that area.
This is WillieMow’s life. He locates a job he enjoys. He saves some money and takes off for the rain forests of Costa Rica or heads off over the Andes to a new national park in Peru.
ANOTHER part of his life is meeting up with us in Ann Arbor every two or three years. It happened Saturday afternoon, and in our search for public telephone, we ended up sitting in the University of Michigan Union building.
As we walked in, we noticed a table with a large sign that read “Excuses.” We didn’t really need one, so we walked on down toward the phones and had a seat. It soon became obvious that something was going on in the Union that day.
There was an endless parade of young coeds walking back and forth, and there was a lot of activity at the Excuses table.
My wife finally stopped one of the passersby to see what kind of an excuse she had. It was sorority rush time. That’s why they kept rushing by. They were required to attend a certain number of parties and if they couldn’t make it, they had to stop in at the Excuses table and tell why.
Or some such silliness. I never did understand exactly what it was all about. Before long, it became an interesting style show for the lechers on the Union sofa.
Shoes with three inch soles. Shoes with thick, five-inch heels. Shoes that made walking very difficult. If some of those girls had to run from something, they’d have fallen flat on their faces.
Pants so tight there was no place for a cell phone. Pants with six-inch cuffs rolled up like—40 years ago—the unfortunate kid with hand-me-down jeans had to wear to school.
“Clothes don’t seem to be made for comfort anymore,” WillieMow observed.
“What if her pants caught on fire?” Willie mused from some odd corner of his brain.
It would take forever to get the shoes off, followed by the ultra-tight�� big-cuffed half bleached-out jeans.
WE SOON turned to rating these girls, not as middle-age lechers might do, but by predicting which ones would make the grade for selection by a favored sorority and which would still be living in the dormitory at the start of the next school year.
We were making light of the situation (“Nobody with pants like that is going to make a sorority on this campus”), but it was a little sad, too. All these girls hoping for social acceptance and so many of them headed for rejection.
Colleen overhead one talking in the rest room about how she bad-mouthed someone from her high school who turned out to be a good friend of someone from the sorority she was trying to join. That girl knew she was flushed.
We talked about setting up our own table down the hall from Excuses. “Attention Losers: stop here for free chocolate.” We could offer excuses for not wanting to join a sorority in the first place.
I always go to Ann’s Arbor expecting to watch people. It’s usually the green hair and the faces perforated with rings and studs. This time it was the other side of the coin and it was just about as strange.– Oct. 2, 2002