Round Table

Goats at Reunion. Need we say more?

By Lee Ostaszewski

I went to my wife’s 15th Reunion, and we took the boys along, because the kids’ program looked exciting — fireworks, a magician, an outing to play miniature golf, and swimming. The adults, on the other hand, had to attend an awards ceremony held outside in 107-degree heat. This year’s Reunion just happened to be scheduled on the hottest day ever in the history of the world. The high temperature was probably the reason we never saw the Bates mascot, the bobcat, which in reality is probably just a person, or perhaps a student, dressed in a bobcat costume. That was just as well, since we forgot to take the advice offered by the Reunion organizers, who sent a letter to parents suggesting that we warn our children beforehand that there could be a seven-foot-tall bobcat lurking about over the weekend, and that it should be considered extremely dangerous.

But none of that mattered once we got there and discovered, to our delight, that there were goats present.

The goats came with the Class of 1951, celebrating its 50th Reunion. They (the alumni, not the goats) wore bright, yellow T-shirts that read “hot diggity dog” on the front and “we can still cut the mustard” on the back. During the parade, they held signs that had similarly clever puns making use of the words “ketchup” and “relish.” How the goats fit with the overall hot dog theme, I dared not ask.

In any event, the goats were a big hit, especially at 10 o’clock that night. That’s when the goats were being taken around campus to do their goat business. They came up to us while we were hanging around outside, making sure not to stray too far away from the official class keg.

The day had already been eventful for most of my wife’s classmates — especially for the ones who hijacked the tour trolley. (A tour trolley is a bus disguised as an old-fashioned train trolley, and is thus not constrained by such things as tracks.) This trolley was commissioned by the Class of 1941 for the parade and to give campus tours. My wife’s classmates convinced the driver to forgo the official route and instead race the trolley several times around the Garcelon Field track. Joggers and bicyclists using the track scattered as if suddenly finding themselves in the middle of a NASCAR time trial for trolley-class stock cars.

I don’t know if it was the heat or the beer, but when the goats wandered up to us, it seemed like a perfectly natural occurrence. We were standing around talking and someone said, “Hey, look, goats.” The goats came up to us, and had we been plant life, they would have tried to eat us. See, that’s a goat’s thought process. A goat looks at something and thinks, “Can I eat that?” Sensing that we were not green and leafy, the goats ignored us and instead ate the shrubbery. After chomping on that, the goats took on a tree.

To see a goat eat a tree is a strange sight, even by college reunion standards. The goats stood on their hind legs, stretched their necks, and bit off the lower leaves. Seeing the work a goat does to eat gave me an idea of how insatiable their appetite is. This behavior, combined with their apparent ability to treat adults as an irrelevancy, makes them the animal-kingdom equivalent of a teen-ager.