A Winters Tale: Toga! Toga! Toga!

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One of my favorite movies happened to fit exactly into a certain period of my life.

I was in college, living in a fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, when the movie Animal House was released in 1978.

My fraternity brothers and I viewed the film as a kind of template for college life.

We lived like slobs, drank too much, held “toga parties,” and could recite lines from the movie by heart.

Of all the characters–Bluto, Pinto, Otter, D-Day and Shelly Dubinsky (roommate of Fawn Leibowitz, killed in a pottery making accident), one character looms large in the Animal House pantheon.

Dean Wormer.

He was the Dean of Students at Faber College, whose goal in life was to crush the fun loving Delta fraternity.

Portrayed by the menacing deep voiced actor John Vernon, Dean Wormer spelled out his frustration at Delta house in a memorable scene.

“Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the varsity swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner?” he charged.

“Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.”

Finally, upon imposing a “double secret probation,”  which the fraternity brothers openly defied, Dean Wormer shouted in desperation: 

“No more fun of any kind!”

I’ve been thinking about that line lately. 

In this time of rules and warnings and fear, real and exaggerated, how many of us are actually having fun?

You remember fun?  It’s that joy at being with friends, seeing each other’s faces (mouths and noses included) in person.

Our state’s version of Dean Wormer might well be our own Governor Newsom, who each day seems to relish exercising more of the unchecked executive power granted him under the state of emergency.

Last week, he tweeted another fun-killing advisory.

While eating in a restaurant (assuming it’s still in business), be sure to wear your mask between bites.

Between bites?  

The internet quickly fired back.  One writer asked:  “What if you are eating chips and salsa and decide to double dip?  Does this count as one bite or two?”

The public response forced the governor to clarify himself at a news conference.

He explained that it was meant to apply to someone who stops eating, and “pulls out a book to read.”

Has this happened to you?  You’re having dinner with a friend, who suddenly pulls out a novel and starts reading? 

Then there is Halloween, just around the corner and on the verge of losing all semblance of fun.

It was depressing to read the state’s guidelines for trick or treating, among them that a mask should be worn even if the child is already wearing a Halloween mask.

Batman, therefore will have his entire head covered.

Last week, Yolo County warned kids not to approach people in their homes, which is, I believe, the entire point of trick or treat.   

“Occupants may not want to come in contact with others,” said the advisory, a sad mantra for today.

One man devised a solution.  He has rigged some paper tubes into a long pipeline, down which he will slide candy to the kids standing at an appropriate distance.  

What’s next?  Cleaning each individual M&M with hand sanitizer before eating?

As for this year’s popular costumes, Amazon is selling, for $14.99, a full surgical outfit for kids who want to trick or treat as–you guessed it–Dr. Fauci.  

Do we really need to conjure up an infectious disease specialist on a night designed for amusement? 

Back in the good old days, the big worry at Halloween was the ritual stomach ache from devouring too much candy.  

This year, the problem seems to be a loss of innocence.

The words of Dean Wormer suddenly seem painfully prophetic: 

“No more fun of any kind!”

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