P.D. was my adviser my first year, a danger in itself since on occasion he'd sign you up for a class that didn't count toward your degree... but as he often said, "Suffering is good for the young." Always loving English History I took a class that unexpectedly turned out dry as dust and fast became tantamount to the dotted line around Anne Boelyn's neck. In a panic about grades and my scholarship I turned for help and ended up at P.D.'s apartment. His solution? Everything would be fine and he gave me a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
I passed the class (by the skin of my teeth) and my scholarship was only slightly reduced.
This was the beginning of many visits off campus to his tiny apartment that had a ceiling to floor Langoussis painting, tiny cacti in the messy kitchen (opening the refrigerator was like opening the door of a tomb, some items fermenting since Calvin Coolidge had been in office), silk screen curtains of British grave rubbings, lots of that nasty primitive art work and fabrics that we never saw eye-to-eye on, and one singular aberration that sent chills down the spine and recoils of terror: his little cat Poobah. Named after The Grand High All Everything from Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado and a gift (!) from Roland Poska... though I often assumed she was the dark emissary of Lucifer.
I stayed in Rockford one summer while P.D. went on a trip and in a moment of mental instability offered to baby sit the furry fiend. She sneaked out the apartment and hid in a wood pile where I reached and grabbed: it was like shoving my hand into an oscillating fan. I held her by the scruffy little neck while crimson trailed along my arm and dripped from my elbow. Weeks later I told him I would stop being a vegetarian for five minutes if he would allow me to EAT that animal.