Invitation to a most unusual charity-ball-and-beer-bust: "Cough up whatever your heart feels for this poor dog."
So pleaded student Scott Lampe Saturday nigh as his TKE (pronounced "Teek") fraternity at George Washington University did just that with a canine-inspired bacchanalia in its campus pleasure dome.
Letter sweaters, Frye boots, designer jeans and battle-scarred Levi's piled into the spartan but proud haunt of the brothers TKE to aid the recovery of a chalk-white Samoyed named Mountie.
The posters went up several days in advance: "Only You Can Help Montie!!!" they beseeched. "Hit by a car last summer on campus. A $600 operation can fix Montie's leg."
Pictured sprawling contentedly at the center of each poster, a bandanna around his neck and a bandage tied conspicuously on his leg, was Montie -- Montie the frisbee-chaser, the coed lure, the notebook-chewing friend to the friendless, including freshmen. Montie, whose slobbering affection will endure long after the dean's has faded.
See here, finished the poster shamelessly: "Do You Want to See Montie Crippled for Life?"
Apparently not. The crowd on Saturday night grew slowly but steadily. Approximately 500 guests paid $1 each toward the costs of straightening Montie's healed but twisted leg. The kegs emptied, the floor got sticky, the house acquired that inimitable frathouse fragrance. And as has been known to happen, the guest of honor probably had the worst time.
10 p.m. -- "It worked, the poster really worked!" exulted Steve Berkowitz, Montie's owner, as he stood in the doorway collecting rumpled dollars. Berkowitz is not a TKE brother, but his two housemates are.
"They came because they love the dog," he said, rolling up a wad of singles.
"I'm so happy," he said making change for a twenty. "Everybody loves this dog. He's like our unofficial mascot. This dog has been making people at GW happy for years."
"Steve, said his roommate, Scott Lampe, "the dog is only 7 1/2 months old."
"Okay, months," amended Berkowitz cheerfully.
Berkowitz is a communications major, "hoping to go into PR." He knows, in other words, the value of a good shaggy-dog story.
"Hey Berkowtiz," said someone moments later, "your dog is biting people over here."
"He's a little excited," said Berkowitz apologetically.
"I think he's been drinking too much beer," said Lampe.
10:30 p.m. -- The room filled. But it was still early, so girls were talking to girls, and boys were talking to boys. Montie, who had been gazing longingly at the huge bowl of potato chips all evening was no longer just gazing. He hopped easily up on two legs and began licking the salt from the bowl and the table. "Oh God, Montie don't be disgusting," said a pledge. Montie was unabashed.
"I thought the dog was suppose to be dying," said Dave Cole, a geology major in a room full of political science majors. "Oh yeah?" said someone seated nearby, leaning forward in conspiratorial jest, "Well I heard that the operation only costs $25 dollars."
"I guess if you're going to get drunk you might as well do it with a dog," Cole sighed.
10:45 p.m. -- Montie licking beer out of a shallow pan underneath the keg. He had been trying to squeeze out the front door, but two girls, wearing corduroys and pained experessions, were blocking the way.
"GW guys are so . . . so . . . ," exploded one, narrowing her eyes and wiping off her lipstick.
"Yeah, said her friend vehemently. "I know just what you mean." She slammed her clog against the beer-sloshed floor, missing Montie's tail by a hair. "Why should we stay here and be insulted? Why don't we just go?
"Yeah, let's go," said her friend unconvincingly. They didn't move. Neither did Monte.
11 p.m. -- "I'm so a-li-en-ayyyyyted," wailed a business major over the thudding bass of the stereo. "I have to be. It's part of the tradition." He emptied his glass and belched loudly, to the enormous satisfaction of all, except Montie, who had been hoisted onto the bar and just looked startled.
11:30 p.m. -- Someone was circulating an "anti-Montie" poster. It was nearly identical to the original, except for the old man pictured at the center. And the text: "Only you can help Mannie," it read. "Hit by a dog on campus last summer. Now he need your he needs your help. A $600 operation can fix Mannie's car. Do you want him to ride the subway for LIFE??"
Midnight -- The stereo was blasting. Thud-boom-thud. The house was full. So was the scraggly lawn. Montie, the most popular dog on campus, had edged nearer to the door. Someone spilled part of a falafel sandwich on his back. Montie rolled over on the grimy floor. He pushed against boots. He gnawed on shoe-laces. He yipped and yapped, and finally made a break for freedom.
"This is a great night," said Berkowitz, holding his girlfriend's hand. "We're going to get Montie all fixed up. He'll be so happy."
Somewhere in the night, free at last, the guest of honor likely was.