The Popcorn Stand: When the Toutonites kept dogging me
President-elect Donald Trump’s tussle with CNN reporter Jim Acosta this week reminded me of a much more trivial confrontation I had while I attended USC.
I was covering the USC women’s volleyball team for the Daily Trojan when I got into it with a group of male students who resided at Touton Hall, a men’s dorm on campus. The group was sort of the women’s volleyball team’s fan club, supporting the team in earnest home and away.
Touton Hall was an eyesore when I attended USC in the 1980s and probably shouldn’t have been standing then. But it was sort of a landmark (I was told John Wayne, who attended USC, stayed there). Because it didn’t come up to code as far as earthquake safety was concerned, it was finally torn down.
Anyway in one of my articles on the women’s volleyball team, I referred to the Toutonites as “bleacher bums,” an endearing term most referenced to Chicago Cubs fans.
Even though I meant it as a compliment, the Toutonites took it as a put down and for the rest of the fall semester made my life, well, miserable.
My first encounter with the Toutonites’ wrath came when I was going to a party and I saw a bunch of flyers plastered everywhere that read “Whisnand is a Weenie.”
Then at each home match, I had to sit there during the timeouts while the Toutonites chanted “Whisnand is a Weenie, Whisnand is a Weenie.” I was so relieved when a portion of the USC marching band who attended the matches would play during the timeouts to drown out the Toutonites’ chants.
I remember before a football game on a Saturday morning, I was sitting on a bench on campus reading the Los Angeles Times sports section and a guy who I had never seen before in my life walked by with presumably his girlfriend, pointed at me and said, “There he is, Whisnand is a Weenie.”
The Toutonites were also known for their Halloween party and sent me a letter demanding I donate to their Halloween party fund. I did what any journalist with integrity would do. I gave them $5.
Anyway by the end of the volleyball season, the Toutonites and I worked things out and we actually got along pretty well.
But for a while, I couldn’t eat hot dogs.
— Charles Whisnand