THE TOGA PARTY
"Dr. Hofmann, are you coming to the toga party tonight?"
It was a question I had never been asked in 20 years of teaching, and I've had students ask me some interesting questions. I did go to a toga party once when I was a freshman in college. We emptied out all of the furniture from our dorm's common room and we all hauled our mattresses down and put them on the floor. We had wall-to-wall mattresses, and everyone wore their sheets. Thus, this was the vision I had as I pondered the student's question. "Where is it?" I asked.
"At the Shamrock," someone replied.
Buddy's Shamrock Tavern is a small local bar and restaurant about one and a half miles from the college. I had eaten lunch there once with some colleagues, so I knew what the place looked like inside. I was trying to imagine it with mattresses all over the floor. My interest was growing. "What time does it start?" I asked.
"Around 9 PM," was the answer.
After a brief poll to see who was going, it looked as if ten of my students would be there. It was Friday, so a party was not out of the question, although I'm not much of a party guy. But this was my class asking me to go, so how could I say no. I said, "I'll think about it."
My production systems class was ending and it was 4:30 on Friday afternoon. I was mentally planning my evening and whether I could even make the party or not. That was my way of letting myself know that I was considering the possibility. I had office hours until 6 PM and then I had to go medicate my horse for her allergies before going home. I was still mulling over the idea at 8 PM when I arrived at my house.
I have a queen-sized waterbed, so my sheets are waterbed sheets. I soon discovered that trying to make a toga out of waterbed sheets, which are sewn together at the bottom, is like trying to rope a hog. Nothing stayed where it was suppose to stay. I logged on to the Internet and quickly found a site called, "How to Make A Toga." I'm sure that if I'd searched longer I could have found a web site on hog roping.
Step 1 of how to make a toga said, "Do Not Use A Sheet." Step 2 said: "We really mean Don't Use A Sheet!" Twenty minutes later I was at WalMart buying four yards of material for a dollar a yard. I also picked up some $9 leather sandals and a terrycloth sweatband. By 9:30 I was back home and looking like a mummy with new shoes. By 10:00 I had solved the toga problem and actually looked presentable.
I arrived outside of The Shamrock Tavern just prior to 11 PM - fashionably late for a college function. Other people were also arriving. I immediately discovered that there was no where for me to put my keys, money and wallet. Togas don't have pockets, and all I had on underneath my toga were my Fruit-of-the-Loom jockey shorts. I left my wallet in the truck, put a twenty-dollar bill in my underwear and held my keys. I was ready.
When I walked in the door, I realized I was on the bar side and not the toga party side. The bar was packed with bubbas who looked at me like I was a gay guy at a Hell's Angles rally. I have nothing against either, but they don't mix well. I quickly passed through the bar and into the room with the party. Whew, I'd made it. And there were some of my students, just as they had promised.
I was there for two hours and had a lot of fun. Someone saw me trying to order a diet coke and bought me white wine. Later someone else saw my wineglass getting empty and bought me another one. I don't drink, so one glass of wine goes a long way. If I drank two, I wasn't going to be able to drive home. I went to the bar for my diet coke. As the bartender was bringing it to me I was feeling around under my toga trying to locate the twenty-dollar bill in my underwear. She asked me what I was doing, and I explained. She paused and then said: "The coke is on the house." I took it to be generosity on her part.
Two hours was long enough. By 1 AM most of my students were either leaving for other parties, or were getting drunk and planning on crashing at some one's pad down the street. I declined an offer to do the same and headed home. The drive home was the worst because of this fear I had of getting stopped by the police and having to walk a straight line in my toga while people stared at me. I got a few stares anyway, because it is unusual to see a guy in a toga driving a diesel pickup truck.
At home, as I prepared to go to bed, I reflected on the events of the day leading up to the party. And I smiled as I found the twenty-dollar bill that had gotten lost in my underpants. I think I'll save it for the IRS.
I had my eyes open for this picture until one
of these women pinched me on the butt.