No. 23: The End (Sort Of)

And so Harold and Ann fell completely, madly, happily, thrillingly in love. In all, they were together for four years — or, technically, three years, six months, four days, two hours, eight minutes and change.

That winter, the winter of 1970, Harold basically moved into Ann’s room in Laker Tower. The following fall, they found a place together, a one-bedroom on Landon Avenue in C-Town. Ann’s parents liked Harold, and Harold’s parents loved Ann. Their friends on The Hill began to call them The Couple. It was good.

True to form, Harold, unable to completely ignore the siren call of Dada, was constrained to write a long, dry, tongue-in-cheek paper about Charlemagne, with a sidebar about Charlemagne’s diet and hobbies, in History 306. The professor, a crusty, proper Englishman by the name of John Meacham, was not amused: he gave Harold an “F” for his efforts. Once again, Harold’s case came up before The Committee on Academic Records. The Committee, having just the previous year suspended him, was not amused. For a long, terrible moment, it appeared that Harold would be expelled. Ann, belatedly realizing that she had fallen into love, was not amused. In the event, Professor Meacham took pity on the recidivist dada and asked The Committee not to Expel Rothman. Instead, the Committee placed Harold on Treble Warning. Harold’s parents were not amused.

The following year, 1971-72, Harold and Ann found another, slightly nicer place with a sofa, further up the block. They bought a used ’66 VW bugs for $148 in Danby. They adopted a cat, Rudi, a two-month-old tabby who just showed up at their door one day, adopted them. Anyway, Rudi stuck. And so did Harold and Ann.

Harold found a new outlet for his Dada streak by deciding to become a flapper. He cut his hair short and parted it in the middle, ala T.S. Eliot. He wore white pants and white bucks and a vest with pearl buttons. He stopped writing Dada papers. He stepped back from The Edge. One day in December, after it had snowed hard and the Slope was covered with snow, Harold and Ann and Harold’s friend Bob were standing at the top of the Slope. Bob and Ann exchanged brief mischievous looks and gave Harold, who was wearing his white bucks with flat rubber soles, a push to see what would happen. What happened was that Harold went flying down the Slope, rapidly reaching a speed of between 40 and 50 miles an hour. It was quite a thing to see. Sensing that he was about to become airborne, Harold steered himself into a tree, hitting it face-first, then immediately falling backwards, like in an old “Keystone Cops” movie. Bob and Ann were amused. Harold was not.

The war wound to an end. SDS faded away, became the Weather Underground. Something called The New Vocationalism took hold. The invisible barrier separating student culture and mass culture began to disintegrate. The counterculture, or what remained of it, was appropriated, dismantled, absorbed, recorded, archived, coopted. Rothman knew the Revolution was officially over when he saw an ad for a car dealer in The Plymouth Clarion that read “POWER TO THE PEOPLE.”

It didn’t matter. Harold was in love.

The following summer, the summer of 1972, Harold and Ann took their first “grown up” vacation together, driving to Cape Cod, renting a spot at the state park to set up their tent, going down to the beach to loll and read and make out by the day, heading into town for dinner at night. It was good. One afternoon, as they were riding around a traffic circle on their way back from the beach, they turned on the radio and Pat Boone was singing “April Love.” April love–is for the very young!

They sang along. Harold, who was driving, decided to keep driving around the circle, as they sang, just for the hell of it. No particular place to go. They were very much in love. There was talk of marriage.

Somehow, Harold graduated first. He began writing a column for the university alumni magazine and liked it, and decided to stick around while Ann finished her studies and try his hand at becoming a freelance writer. But by the time he’d decided to do this, Ann had already had to find another place to live for the next year. So Harold found his own apartment at the top of C-town, a few blocks away. They were still very much a couple, but they were no longer living together.

Crucial difference.

And so it came to pass that Ann, who mistakenly thought that Harold, who had begun to find success as a freelancer writer, was no longer in love with her, met a a sweet-talking law student by the name of Michael Blatherburg in the Music Room of the Bent.

They had an affair. The affair continued. Everyone in C-Town knew about it but Harold. Finally, Ann told Harold. Harold freaked out. It didn’t do much good. In the meantime, Blatherburg persuaded Ann to leave town with him.

And now here Harold was standing at the top of Maple Avenue, waiting to say good bye to Ann while Blatherburg waited in the car. And now here she was. And now they were hugging. And now she walking away. And now she was gone.


Dearest C-Town reader,

With this installment, “C-TOWN BLUES” comes to an end — for the time being. Thank you for your support over the years. It’s been freaky! Special thanks to former editor-in-chief Andy Guess and associate editor Erica Stein for getting the party going; thanks, too, to my long-suffering subsequent editors, Zach Jones and Carlos Maycotte. Special special thanks to my illustrator and comrade-in-inspired-craziness J.J. Manford. Next up: “C-TOWN BLUES”: the book!

And now I must fade wordlessly into the Sun-less night–