As soon as my lawyer gets out of jail, I am going to file a classless action lawsuit against the makers of “National Lampoon’s Animal House” for theft of intellectual property.
I came up with the idea recently while drinking a beer at my 40th college reunion, where my classmates (who also, like my lawyer, were admitted to the bar) agreed that the 1978 campus comedy was heavily influenced by our shenanigans.
While we got an excellent education at St. Michael’s College, which is in Colchester, Vermont, and is annually rated as one of the top small colleges in America, the Class of 1975 stands out as the most notorious in the 111-year history of the school.
That its graduates, like those in “Animal House,” have gone on to enjoy distinguished careers in business, education, law, politics, medicine, aviation and even journalism only bolsters my case.
The plaintiffs, whose last names are not being used to protect the guilty, include Hank, my roommate for three years; Clay, my roommate for one year; Tim, the brazen ringleader who lived next door; and yours truly, who was only, I will testify under oath in the event we are countersued, along for the ride.
Accompanying us to the reunion were Hank’s wife, Angela; Clay’s wife, Lorraine; Tim’s wife, Jane; and my wife, Sue, who also is a member of the Class of ‘75 but is innocent of all charges, unless you count being guilty by association.
The first thing Tim and I did, with help from Clay, was turn the Class of 1975 banner upside down on a fence in back of the school. It hung proudly, if slightly crumpled, next to the crisp, right-side-up banners of the other classes at the reunion barbecue. Then the three of us, along with several of our classmates, posed for pictures behind it.
Tim, co-chair of the ‘75 reunion committee, later reported that Jack Neuhauser, who has been president of the college since 2007 but knows all about us, heard what we had done.
“He just shook his head, like he expected it,” Tim said.
“He can’t revoke our diplomas,” I noted, adding that we graduated magna cum lager, “or we’d have to come back.”
“And repeat all the stuff we did,” Tim said.
That stuff included starting a snowball fight that erupted into a campus-wide riot; putting snakes in other students’ rooms; engaging in firecracker wars; throwing a burning bonsai tree out of a window and accidentally igniting the ivy on the side of the building, which forced our resident adviser, Flash, to run across the quad, beer in hand, to extinguish the blaze; locking a pep squad in a dormitory basement so it couldn’t march at a pep rally; putting kegs of beer in a dumbwaiter and sending them up and down between floors so campus authorities couldn’t find them; streaking in front of the girls’ dorm (I did, modestly, wear a bow tie); creating an international incident on a trip to Montreal; and committing innumerable other acts of mayhem, craziness and blatant stupidity that are safe to mention now because, let’s hope, the statute of limitations has expired.
“The drinking age was 18,” Tim reasoned. “What did they expect?”
They expected us to behave ourselves at the reunion, which we did. Mostly.
At the awards breakfast (somehow, none of us won anything), I issued a blanket apology for the Class of 1975 to the now-retired Don “Pappy” Sutton, who was dean of students during our four-year reign of error, when Playboy ranked St. Mike’s as one of the nation’s top party schools.
Dean Sutton, who is 87 and looks fabulous (he’s had 40 years to recover), thanked me and said, “God bless you.”
We had a great time, both in college and at the reunion, and are proud to be associated with such a fine institution of higher learning.
I can’t help but think, however, that like the rowdy crew in “Animal House,” we are still on double secret probation.