View Original Jimmy Steele tried to consider his assignment in literature, but he might also are downstairs within the basement of the Senior Dorm shooting pool with fellow students. The way he played pool didn’t require focusing. With him it had been hit-or-miss-and that’s all he wanted: relaxation, companionship.
His eyes kept moving toward the letter on his desk, where his roommate Charles had tossed it after reading the contents. The sheet kept drawing his thoughts back sort of a magnet.
It wasn’t what the message said (“Dear Charles: Please come to my office Thursday at noon for a crucial conference no matter your schedule. Signed by the Dean of Men”); it had been an association he was making. His stomach tightened up into a steel ball.
The telephone down the hall shrilled. Since everybody else expected somebody else to answer the phone, nobody did, and it rang persistently at regular, nerve-racking intervals.
“Damn!” Jimmy yelled finally. “Why doesn’t someone get that phone!”
“What the hell is wrong with you answering it!” shouted someone from across the hall.
“Let the damned thing ring then!” Jimmy yelled back. To himself he mumbled: “Why don’t they hire someone to answer that thing and take messages! Every 10 minutes it rings!”
He glanced impatiently at the assignment he had tried vainly to read. Swearing again, he slammed the book shut.
“Hell, i can not read this story now!”
He strode across the dormitory , out into the hall. His mouth and throat felt dry and parched. getting to the drinking fountain , he let a chilly spout of water refresh him. A clock above the fountain read 11 o’clock. In 45 minutes he had a meeting within the office of the Dean of Student Welfare-some more damned problem about the allow next year’s campus magazine. As elected editor he should be brooding about what he was getting to offer as defense. He could see no thanks to cut the budget any longer . As it was, the magazine staff would be operating with none margin.
But he couldn’t get his mind on the meeting from brooding about the letter Charles had received. When Charles had shown it to him and remarked, “Now, i’m wondering what the hell’s this about?” Jimmy had stared thoughtfully at the letter, then asked when he had received it.
“Tuesday morning,” Charles had answered. Today was Thursday.
“When i used to be tapped into the local leadership honor society,” Jimmy ruminated, “I got a letter like this. it had been just how of getting us together without letting out the very fact that they were getting to tap-a surprise, you know.”
“What-Then you think-“
“No, it isn’t the local society,” Jimmy interrupted. “We’re employing a different system this point .”
Observing the anxious, puzzled look on Charles’ face, he smiled and guaranteed him, “Oh, you made it. i do not guess it hurts for a man to inform his own roommate he has been chosen!”
“But back thereto letter,” Jimmy said. “I think it is the Suwannee Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa; I’ve a hunch they go to tap today at noon.”
ODK was a national leadership society. “I thought Frank said it might be three weeks yet,” Charles observed. “Besides, i do not think I even have the grades.”
Frank was an ODK member.
“He may are trying to throw us astray ,” I suggested.
Charles shrugged then asked, “Did you get a letter like this?”
Jimmy shook his head. Word had circulated that only 10 individuals were being inducted into the national leadership society. Jimmy was worried. That was alittle number to be tapped. He kept telling himself that he didn’t care, that that sort of thing meant nothing within the end.
Yet he knew he was kidding himself; he wanted to be tapped into the coveted ODK. Although he was a member of the local leadership academy , of Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, editor of the campus magazine, and a senior, Jimmy believed Charles, a university junior, might stand a far better chance of being among the lucky ten. He had recently been elected as editor the campus newspaper for next year. That was one among the foremost important student offices on campus; he had been very active in other affairs at the university, too.
Now it had been Thursday morning, forty-five minutes before noon. If ODK was tapping today, then it had been apparent that Jimmy Steele wasn’t getting to make it. The one top honor he wanted such a lot was getting to elude him. Sure, he had the grades, but there have been others who had the scholastic average, too-15.
Maybe-but he stopped in mid thought and shook his head stubbornly: He was therein five who didn’t make the list. Also, he hadn’t received a letter like Charles’-or the other hint for that matter-that he was to be somewhere at noon.
The psychology major who roomed nearby would get an enormous laugh out of him-Jimmy Steele-huddled in his room sweating with anxiety over whether he was in line to win another campus honor.
“You wheels,” he had sneered on several occasions, “worrying over who’s the most important wheel here, scared as a child out Trick or Treating that somebody else will get a gift that you simply don’t!”
He was in his late twenties, a veteran of the controversial war in Iraq, coldly realistic and cynical.
“They need to put you guys out on the battlefront , facing an enemy with guns; then you’d really have something to stress about.”
Why should they need to place you on the battlefront , facing an enemy with a gun? War. That was why, because citizenry were continually insisting that their way was the proper and only way, refusing to allow others to measure their way-which, by just the merest chance, might be a right way, too.
And what was wrong with coveting awards and other honors? One didn’t receive them unless one met the standards-real, indiscriminate criteria-Then Jimmy caught himself: He acknowledged that too repeatedly such honors were found out because the goal and everything else was simply a series of rungs within the ladder resulting in that goal, rather than each being an end-a value-in itself.
Hell, why did he need to be so philosophical?
He glanced at the clock in the desk. Eleven-thirty. He pulled on his trousers, remembering that he had to travel by the magazine office for his budget folder to require to the Dean of Welfare’s office. He met redhaired Ted Dobson, student body president, on his answer of the dormitory and his suspicions grew. Ted wore a white evening shirt and tie.
As they hurried across campus, Jimmy remarked: “I hear ODK is tapping today, Ted.”
If Jimmy had expected a reply, he received none. Ted continued to seem straight ahead, no expression on his face. Finally he said,
“You’ve done a terrific job with the campus mag this year, buddy.”
“Thanks,” Jimmy responded gratefully. He eyed Dobson furtively.
In the alumni building they saw Al Douglas, blond, charismatic president of ODK. He, too, sported a white shirt and tie. Now there remained little doubt in Jimmy’s mind about the society tapping today. His mood collapsed sort of a suddenly deflated raft. He wasn’t to be one among the chosen ten. He felt like crying; then he laughed.
“What the hell-the way I’m reacting you’d think it had been a matter of life and death.”
Oddly his thoughts jumped to Peggy Miller, his sophomore sister and girlfriend. If he had been tapped into ODK, she would are very happy because she wanted in particular for him to be happy. If he wasn’t selected, she would lessen the hurt and disappointment in her usually soothing way. She would make the failure seem the foremost insignificant thing within the world.
For a couple of moments Jimmy felt sentimental, as she always made him feel when he thought of her, or was together with her .
“It isn’t what you’ve got , but what you’re , that basically counts,” he could hear her saying now. The thought of her mellifluous voice made him suddenly feel weak. Once she had told him, “I need a notable in heart-not in name only .”
As Jimmy passed the Registrar’s office, he spied Charles staring out one among the registrar windows.
“I’m checking on my grade average,” he volunteered.
“Do you’ve got it-what you would like to be tapped?” Jimmy asked.
“Yeah-just barely,” Charles sighed with relief. “Do you think that they’re going to tap today?”
“I’m almost certain today’s the day,” Jimmy said glumly.
He walked upstairs to the Dean of Welfare’s office. His secretary, Mrs. Forbes, smiled when Jimmy strolled in. Bill Meyers, student chairman of the Men’s Judiciary, sat during a cushioned gold chair next to the door into the Dean’s inner office.
“Please have a seat, Jimmy,” she offered. “Dr. Waddell is in conference, but he are going to be with you during a jiffy .” She had a pleasing smile that set Jimmy comfortable .
He sat down next to Bill, who was staring thoughtfully at the beige carpet
“What time does one have an appointment?” Jimmy asked the dark-haired, studious judiciary officer.
“It was scheduled for 11:45, but the Dean’s running late.”
“As usual. My appointment was at 11:45, too. i’m wondering how publications and judiciary can fit into an equivalent meeting?”
Bill shrugged. “I honestly do not know why i have been called in here,” he commented, running his hand through curly chestnut hair. “I’ve been checking back on all the sins i’d have committed against the administration,” he chuckled. “So far I’ve come up with zilch.”
At that moment the Dean of Men, a wiry, baldheaded man with a friendly smile, emerged from Dean Waddell’s office.
“Don’t you boys get away ,” he greeted them casually. He walked out of the space . Jimmy glanced down the hall and saw some men in black graduation gowns-ODK members probably, dressed for the ceremony.
He felt sick-It was adolescent to let such a thing gnaw so tauntingly at him, but he was unable to simply accept philosophically the very fact that he had been snubbed. He thought it had been hurt pride quite anything. He turned to Bill.
“Why doesn’t Dr. Waddell hurry thereupon meeting!” he grunted.
The president of the class , Pete Landon, stuck his head through the hallway door. He was tall, muscular, and had a perpetual leer on his face.
“Hey, Jimmy-Bill,” he greeted the 2 seniors. “Have you seen Wiley?”
Wiley was chairman of the category Day committee. Both Jimmy and Bill said they hadn’t seen him. Jimmy stood up and strolled over to Landon.
“Are you being tapped into ODK?” he asked.
“I do not know anything about it,” he said, and walked away.
So the president of the class wasn’t being tapped either. Well, there have been only ten being tapped.
The Dean of Men reappeared, grinning. “This gets worse by the minute, doesn’t it?” he chuckled. “You young men accompany me.”
Bill and Jimmy glanced questioningly at one another . As they hesitated, Dean Waddell, white-haired and distinguished, came out of his office smiling and beckoned them to follow him. He led them out into the hall, where Charles fell without becoming upset beside Jimmy.
“What’s up?” Jimmy asked, not breaking stride; but he thought he knew the solution . His heart began to beat a paradiddle as they stepped call at front of the administration building. Seeing Al Douglas, Ted Dobson, and other ODK members-all solemn and dignified in their caps and gowns-he swelled with emotion.
“We’re being tapped into Omicron Delta Kappa,” Charles grinned widely.
Maybe it wasn’t so important-not sort of a lot of things-but just it rated a robust second in Jimmy’s life, he thought.