I was very young when I first heard of Dartmouth men. My mother was telling us the long and sordid tale of why she wasn't allowed to attend Smith College. "Your grandfather didn't want some Dartmouth man to kill me in a car accident." she said. It was a beautiful Friday afternoon in early October of 1949 when my grandparents drove her up from the South Shore of Boston to see Smith College. They were all busy admiring the autumnal scenery when a carload of young men hove into view behind them. The young men had little appreciation for the fall colors and beeped for my grandfather to pick up speed. He didn't. So they honked and began making arm gestures. That still didn't budge him. So they whaled on the horn and attempted to overtake him on the narrow country road. This proved to be an impetuous decision on their part. They chose to try and pass him on a turn and a car appeared in the on-coming lane. My grandfather, always the gentleman, did the honorable thing by driving his car and family off the road and into in a ditch. This act of generosity on the part of my grandfather did not bring about humility in the young men. They kept on going, speeding down the country road until the car was out of eyesight. That was, until they reached Smith. There it was, parked in front of a dormitory with the tell-tale green and white Dartmouth pennent attached to its antenna. Smith was a no-go and so were Dartmouth men.
The next Dartmouth man I knew was Stuart. Stuart's family and my family go way back. We only saw each other for a few weeks each summer. He was 2 years older than I and much smarter. He always reminded me of this whenever he could. Stuart, being so bright, went off to Dartmouth, naturally. The next summer it was obvious that our age and intelligence differences didn't bother him anymore. His new friends from Dartmouth weren't troubled by it either. The summer I was 20, he and his friends decided to teach my 18 year-old sister and I how to do a Ubangee during one of my grandmother's cocktail parties. Stuart said, "These are fun. We do this at Dartmouth." A Ubangee proved very hard to do. I managed one maybe once or twice that summer. My little sister was a pro.
To do a proper Ubangee you first need a classic clear plastic cocktail glass. You fill it midway with your alcoholic drink of preference. Then, while bending over you fit the entire rim of the glass into your mouth. Once the glass is secure in your mouth and you no longer require hands to hold it, you stand up straight as quick as you can and throw your head back. If you do this right, the drink will go straight down your throat. If not, it goes many places; up your nose, all over your dress or on to the floor. If you happen to be the unfortunate type it will cause you to boot right there in front of everyone. The reason it was called a Ubangee was because the cocktail glass stretched your mouth out so much, you bore a faint resemblance to a member of a tribe from Ubangy. Tribes from Ubangy are the ones that use pieces of iron to stretch their chins and ears to unnatural lengths.
The next group of Dartmouth men that came across my horizon were from The New Criterion; Messrs. Panero and Beck are Dartmouth alums. I have never actually met them. But my husband has. He has even gone drinking with them but there has been no mention of any Ubangees. Ubangees would be a very politcally incorrect thing to do these days. I've noticed that these Dartmouth men are a bit different than the ones I've known previously. For one thing, they're serious. Second, I've yet to hear that either of them wears the green sweater with the big "D" on it. Third, they criticize Dartmouth.
(Editor's note; Mr. P wanted to write the post but a little thing called duty to his employers got in the way. Not only would he have had something incredibly worthwhile to say about Mr. Beck's piece, he would have told you of Mr. Beck's keen intelligence and sense of humor, how he maintain's a bon vivant spirit despite never being included on TNC's trips to places like Chicago or London, and his amazing capacity for alcohol. Sorry Mr. Beck. Next time you'll get the Big Gun.)