Raymond Owen, online editor
Starting an interview is often tricky, kind of like rapping rhymes. But it was especially difficult when I sat down to talk to Hampden-Sydney’s President Chris Howard last Monday. Fellow Tiger editor Ned Belliveau has a never-fail, go-to interview question for moments like this: ‘What is your spirit animal?’ It is usually a good way to start an interview. But in this situation, the question didn’t really work—because obviously President Howard is a Tiger. I had to think fast.
So, I qualified the question, removing Tiger from the choices and I admonished him that if he chose Tiger, he would be a cheetah, and that we don’t like cheetahs here at Hampden-Sydney College. Fortunately, he said hawk, and then bear, and then we tried to figure out if there wasn’t a way to combine the two. But there wasn’t, except that the hawk might form some kind of hat for the bear. It doesn’t really matter, though. I am glad he said bear; it means that President Howard is a nice Tiger, unlike Shirkan in the Jungle Book who hates bears—and people.
This niceness shows in President Howard’s next answer. For when asked his favorite breakfast meal, Dr. Howard claimed “eggs over hard, with smoky bacon and coffee”. But really his favorite breakfast is Frosted Flakes because they are great, and he is a Tiger. But Yank the Tiger’s favorite breakfast is Frosted Flakes because they are great. And Yank the Tiger is easily offended. Yank thinks that he is the only Tiger on campus who should be able to eat Frosted Flakes. So President Howard didn’t say Frosted Flakes; his kind heart forbade him, though he is a Tiger. The thing about Yank, though, is that he is a hypocrite. He doesn’t say a word if Dean Garland wants to eat Frosted Flakes, but maybe this is because she is a lady Tiger and he is soft.
As a Tiger who is not soft, President Howard earned his stripes in the Air Force. I think he got stripes since he was high-ranking, but I didn’t ask him about Air Force, so I really don’t know if the metaphor works. But I did ask him about Transformers the movie. His favorite robot in disguise was an Autobot, so I felt safe continuing the interview. He said that if he were a Transformer, he would be an MV-22 Osprey. This is a very interesting answer because it is a transformer itself. Fast and versatile like President Howard, the Osprey transforms from a helicopter to an aeroplane and back again. So, if our nimble and agile Tiger President were a Transformer, he would be a transforming Transformer. And he could have a Tiger paint scheme. Incredible.
Anyway. President Howard is an indulging Tiger interviewee. He exercised grace and composure when asked: Do you ever pretend that HSC 1 is a spacefighter and that Middlecourt is a space station? He didn’t blink an eye, just glided effortlessly into “of course”, and we proceeded to make spaceship noises together. It almost turned into a beat box session, but I don’t have any rhythm. TO BE CONTINUED…