September 01, 2005
(Image stolen from Phil Carney, just for old times' sake.)
Ah, what indeed? Basically, the coxswain is the martinet who sits in the stern of a four or eight-oared shell, hurling abuse and insults at the poor oarsmen responsible for hauling his or her lazy ass all over the river and, nominally at least, steering the boat. (I say "nominally" because I was once in a shell that managed to ram a channel buoy despite the fact that the cox had two hundred yards' width of river to play with. And I also was witness to another cox's attempt to land a boat by pointing it at the dock at a 90 degree angle and going to ramming speed.) Coxswains also spend their time off the water hurling insults and abuse at oarsmen trying to run up hills or lift weights, usually with a stopwatch in their hands. The punchline of all of this is that the average cox weighs about 90 pounds and wouldn't last five minutes with an oar. (Our friend Muzzy of CBGB fame was unusually large. As the LB Buddy pointed out, I think he actually weighed more than I did.)
There is a tradition that when a boat wins a race, the crew gets to throw their cox into the water. Some people think this is celebratory. In fact, it is an act of pure revenge.
An eternal question of college is: does being a psych major make you crazy or do only crazy people become psych majors. Another such question applies to coxswains: does coxing give one a Napoleon complex, or do only people with Napoleon complexes cox? (Yes, I'm talking about you guys.)
Hope that helps!
UPDATE: See what I mean?Posted by Robert at September 1, 2005 11:34 AM | TrackBack