The Fighting Red Onionhead, a.k.a. Roger, a.k.a. Ode de Capa  Dedicated Idiocy, A personal history of the Penn State Monty Python Society by Alyce Wilson

School Year 1988-1989

The Mall Climb

(page 3 of 3)

Scott Kane pointed out some strange inhabitants of the area, the Horizontal Hill People. Somehow, they managed to walk perpendicular to the pull of gravity! On this very steep incline, they were walking as if the gravity had shifted ninety degrees! Amazing, they were, and we stood in awe of them (well, we couldn't really stand, but we hung there in awe, shall we say?)

Matt decided that we'd waited long enough to brave the overhang, so we sent Ian first, presidents being dispensable. He made it up and over, and with our newly inspired courage, we followed his lead. This was a nasty bit, since you were virtually swinging out in open air for quite a few seconds until you manage to grab onto the cliff face. But then, if you're good at rock climbing, you can easily make it to the next checkpoint. The only one who had any amount of real trouble was Paul, our anchorman. He nearly plunged, but he caught a rope by his foot and hung there awhile until Trotsky shimmed down and pulled him upright.

The next stretch was good, craggy stuff, perfect for rock climbing, but soft enough that it didn't hurt too much to drag yourself over it. In fact, the twin peaks of Mt. Pattee are rare stuff, all covered with grass as so few peaks are.

A bloodcurdling shriek split the air. Don had seen what we had only heard about, what Ian had warned us against at the beginning of the journey. It was one of those terrible hill creatures with long, bushy tails and big, white omnivorous teeth! Ian had brought along nuts in case of such an emergency, but unfortunately, he'd spilled them in the first swing across that huge gap. Luckily for Don, the creature took off like a shot on hearing the shriek.

At the first sheer rock face, Andy guttered it up the thin crack that ran up the rock, with Matt's direction and help. And then, it was just a short stretch to our next camp. (By now, Don had coined the nickname Corporal Claus for Andy, because of the hat, I suppose.)

So we made it fairly quickly to Base Camp B. Just below it, though, Trotsky and Paul were dangling on two ends of the rope, with a 45 degree angle between them, indicating some sort of an odd force shield or magnetic repulsion. I told them that, if they were normal, gravity would pull them together, and realizing this, they smashed into each other immediately.

Now came the really, really nasty part. And just then, Dave Hrencin (coincidentally, perhaps) had to leave. Before our very eyes, he transformed into a Horizontal Hill Person and walked straight out of there! And just then, John Roe showed up and agreed to take Dave's place in our expedition.

The part that took the longest right now was getting the grappling Spam across the sheer rock face to the craggy bit above it, on the other side of the Horizontal Hill People's chain. We had to avoid the Terrible Petunia Patch, else we might catch it from the Office of Physical Plant. (No, really!)

Damon attempted to throw the grappling Spam but didn't make it very far. He only succeeded in denting the can. John Roe tried and managed to lose the key to the Spam. But we stopped some Horizontal Hill People and gave them directions to find the key and return it to us. They laughed, as only those silly Horizontal Hill People would do, and threw us the key (which, strangely enough, followed their rules of gravity).

On the fifth or sixth try, we got the grappling Spam across. Then, each of us rappelled up the sheer rock face (quite a feat, eh?).

The last stretch, long though it was, went fairly quickly with just a few checkpoints. This was because Matt, our expedition leader, told us that we had to speed it up if we wanted to finish this before dark.

As I was groaning from the effort of pulling myself up one section of the mountain, John Roe remarked, "I could say something very sexist right now, seeing all the effort it's taking you to do this." Suddenly, gravity shifted a few degrees, and I could nearly walk straight up to him, where I fell on him and pounded him a bit.

Incredible as it may seem, we had reached the final obstacle, a tremendously sheer cliff face leading to a step-like overhang, out of which metal bars came out, which may come in handy in securing a grappling Spam.

At first, we tried to throw the grappling Spam up there, but then Don volunteered to rock climb it and take the rope up with him, where he could secure it on the metal bars. We agreed to his daringly stupid suggestion and let him go ahead with it.

With great effort, Don reached the top, amid remarks about, "Yes, let the Whovian go first — he's expendable!" [Note: Don was president of the Penn State Whovians, a club for fans of "Dr. Who."]

A dramatic thing happened just at the top. When it seemed as if he couldn't muster the final energy to make it to the overhang, one of the Horizontal Hill People, who had been sitting on the overhang watching us the entire time, reached down and helped him up! And then, it was a simple matter of securing the rope and letting us all climb up.

Most of us had little trouble, too. That is, until Trotsky tried it. He, being anchorman, was last, and, being a communist, was suddenly endangered by political prejudice.

"Well, we made it," shouted Paul. "Hey! What about this communist! It's climbing up my rope! Aaaah! I can see it peeping out of my wife's blouse! Let's kill it!" And, just as he and Damon were about to let the rope go and watch Trotsky plunge to his death, Matt dove down and wrestled the rope away from them.

"I've come too far to lose a man from sheer hatred!" he shouted. "Get away from here unless you want to die by forced ingestion of Spam!" That did it; they backed off, and Trotsky was pulled to safety.

At the top, Will came along, having mustered the secrets of the Horizontal Hill People, and took photographs of us. We also signed a sign-in sheet, answering the question, "Why did you climb the mall?"

Well, of course. "Because it was there."

But then our story came to a tragic end. Dissatisfied with his performance on the hill, Paul leaped to a noble, bloody death. Damon followed his example, and someone pushed me. I screamed as I plunged downward, "I've been murdered!!!"

Matt's broken body lay on the ledge near mine. And then, everything was suddenly beautiful and soft and restful. "Come join us in the hereafter!" I shouted to the ones still above. And they did. How beautiful it all was, as our spirits rose from the broken bones and blood that littered the peaks of Mount Pattee...


Gravity had shifted ninety degrees, and we felt refreshed and just a bit achy and tired. We stood on the sheer rock face and discussed dinner. John Roe was repulsing everyone by eating the contents of the grappling Spam — raw!!! Someone suggested pizza, but nobody could afford it, so we settled for walking down to Atherton [Hall, the University Scholars dorm] and figuring out what to do once we got there.

We were in high spirits as we skipped down to Atherton, singing. As we frolicked across the HUB Lawn, much later, we joined in on the Philosopher's Song, all of us Bruces and Sheilas. And, just as the sun was fading, we entered the lobby of Atherton.

And so, with only one further incident — where Matt was so hungry at dinner that he ate off both of his hands — my first year in the Penn State Monty Python Society came to a close. For me, it was off to a summer camp, Harman Center in Milroy, where I served as a camp counselor only slightly more mature than Bill Murray in Meatballs.

Because Gumbies don't take American Express

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