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Thankful for Themi the Greek

Jul 18, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

But the novelty sheriff's badge will be a problem

A lot of people who know our family are asking this summer about year one at Yale.

I had a very good year, thank you.

Something tells me these questions actually might have to do with my son Robert, who has just finished his freshman campaign there, but who's to say?

In the midst of Hurricane Irene, we endured the initial shock of seeing Robert's 7 x 10-foot bedroom in the oldest, creepiest (yes that's a long "e," but a short "a" would be descriptive as well) freshman residence on the campus in New Haven, Conn., a room which he was to share with a total stranger as part of a three-room suite.

Well, OK, I suppose he did most of the enduring, not me. Get out the measuring tape, readers. That's a very small room.

It would have been a disaster of sorts had the two of them not hit it off, but the roommate, Ken from Long Island, became Robert from Wyoming's great friend, and they've signed up to live together as sophomores as well -- this time with four other guys in a suite in one of the famous Yale "castles" that the online housing blogs rate as the most-coveted digs in the place.

They got that suite through a lottery drawing. There were seven "sextets," seeking housing in the five suites that could accommodate a group that size. There were slips of paper numbered 1 through 100 in a hat, and the lowest number got first pick of the suites.

Robert and Ken were nervous, but another suitemate said not to worry.

"I will draw," said Themistocles Davris-Sampatakakies from Athens, Greece, "I am very lucky."

The first numbers came out of the hat as the other hopefuls drew. 64. 89. No problem so far. Then 34. Gulp. Then 23. Uh-oh.

Then Themistocles came forward, rustled his fingers in the hat, and plucked out a number.

He looked at it with a puzzled expression, as Robert describes it, scowling a bit as he turned the tiny piece of paper over in his hand.

Facing the housing officer, he said "Is this a nine or a six?

Cheers and applause erupted from Robert's group. Themi the Greek had done as promised.

At the end of the school year, Ken and Themistocles planned to drive west with Robert in his 13-year-old station wagon. But just half an hour outside New Haven, the engine blew. At a service visit to a New Haven garage a couple of weeks earlier, the mechanic had failed to attach the oil filter housing properly, and all the oil came out of the engine within the first 20 miles of the trip.

Nine days later, Robert finally arrived home, the car powered by a replacement engine -- but without the two friends. The trip delay ruined their plans, and neither could come along after all.

Disappointing, but it did give my wife Shawn a chance to work out a problem of her own. She had planned to give the two exotic visitors from the East an authentic, corny, Wyoming gift. Her idea was to get each of them one of those "Wyoming Sheriff" badges with the kid's name on it.

She went to the gift shop, where there was a big rack of the brassy badges, engraved with almost every name under the sun. Quickly she located a "Robert," and could have picked either "Rob" or "Bob" as well (although he prefers his full name to either of the shorter ones).

A "Ken" badge was easy to fund, and the store clerk said she probably had a "Kenneth" in the back room if Shawn wanted that instead.

So far, so good. But then -- a problem. A big problem. It turns out they don't make cheesy sheriff's badges for kids with the name "Themistocles Davris-Sampatakakies."

Maybe next year, Themi. We're working on it.

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