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The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:
Selections from DeWitt Clinton High School's Literary Magazine, 1929-1942

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Hold That Tiger

Jacob Matcha, '37

The Magpie, January 1937, v. 21, n. 1., p. 23.

The tiger knows all about the batting averages of the most obscure ball-players in the International League and he'll stake his shirt on the results of the Yankee-Athletics game that was played eight months ago. But ask him what geometric corollaries are or thrombosis of the coronary and he'll beg you to keep his family out of this. He's a timid Soul through and through, Clinton's Caspar Milquetoast. Doing his level best to appear up-to-date, he'll eagerly support any popular opinion, but the moment attention is focused upon him, he's as shy as a frightened mouse and hides behind a crimson blush. However, whenever girls are discussed, he looks up smartly and, with a knowing wink, tells us all about that beautiful blond he met some days before.

"What a piece," he gloats, "what a piece . . . And she sent me a valentine too . . . You oughta see it."

However, any further attempts to see this thrilling message of love evokes a troubled look from the Tiger who deplores the fact that nothing is sacred to us "bums," and he'll be darned if he'll show us anything as intimate and purely personal as Gertie's letter. For months after this incident we all beg him to introduce us to this "honey" of his. But nothing doing . . . The Tiger sneers at us with injured face, insists she'd have absolutely nothing to do with such "twirps." It seems we lack the Tiger's seductive charm.

If we take a couple of girls for a stroll, the Tiger lags behind and turns the color of a ripe beet should some female speak even casually to him.

A simple request for the time calls for its share of stammering and by the time he tells her, several minutes have elapsed. If we tease him for such unusual coyness, he springs to his feet and, with one eye focused on the giggling damsels, hurriedly shadow boxes all over the pavement in a vain attempt to hide his embarrassment. He's too short to get very far and his anemic figure belies his ferocity. But it's a fearful sight to see his smooth baby face light up with anger and disappointment. And the thin blond mustache that he has been patiently cultivating on his upper lip in the face of all our derision always curls up under the severe strain of emotion.

Dancing is a topic that never tires the Tiger, and he seldom stops boasting of his new steps and "breaks." He declares he can dance better than all of us put together. And as for shyness . . . Pufhh!

"Why, I'll spot you ten to one I put my arms around Judy before you do," he cried one night as we hastened to a party on the Concourse. Astonished by such rare determination, I drew back and refused. Could the leopard have changed his spots? I wondered. When we arrived, he muttered some inaudible greeting to the hostess, and let alone not putting his arms about her, he sat across the room from Judy all evening, rapt in a book of smutty New Yorker cartoons which he was reading for the tenth time. As for dancing . . . well! He snuggled into that cozy armchair and never let out another peep all evening. Refusing all offers to dance with the girls, he stared greedily at the tasty sandwiches on the table a foot away and refrained from touching one until the hostess forced it upon him. As soon as she had turned to her other guests, he dashed furtively to the table and filled his pockets with candy. That seemed to work up his spirits for he leaped up as soon as the girls had left to clean up, and danced frenziedly about the room with one of the bewildered fellows. The moment he heard returning footsteps however, he fell back into his chair and panted innocently into a week-old magazine.

He nearly burst a blood vessel when we told the girls that we called him the Tiger because of his astounding boldness with women. And how the boy positively glared at me when I was cruel enough to mention that he was spending an extra term in Clinton. The crowning point of the evening came when two of us, who were taking Spanish, began asking him questions in that tongue. The Tiger, who knew less of that language than he did of Chinese although he had been taking a two-year Spanish course for nigh eight terms, grinned disgustedly and muttered, "Si, si . . si, si Señor!"

I am risking my life when I write this for the Tiger is sure to read it, being a strong Magpie fan. I won't mention his name for fear of inviting a poniard in my back. But the limit has been surpassed even without that. That is why in conclusion I cry, "Hold that Tiger while I run for my life . . . "

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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