Henry Montalbano – or Monte as he is often called – and I were in Legal Studies 101 together freshman year. I always enjoyed his insightful, opinionated and often hilarious comments in the class. I also enjoyed the Batman t-shirt he would sometimes wear – skin-tight and definitely three or four sizes too small for his muscular football player’s frame. I sat down with him in his Perry double the night before one of his games.
So why football?
Well I started playing in fifth grade – I was a fat fifth grader who could throw his weight around well for a little guy.
[Monte is listed as 6’1” and 225 lbs. on the football team’s roster. I struggle to imagine him as ever being a little guy. He sees the confusion on my face].
For a big little guy, soccer required too much footwork and I was way too big for cross country, so football was a natural decision. Football is also more mental than people think.
Are you more mental than people think?
[He smiles]. No, I’m not. You can read me pretty easily. I also like the balance between athletics and academics [at Williams]. Sports don’t consume your life like they would at a Division I school. You can do all sorts of extracurriculars and clubs.
If you could create and lead a club or committee, what would it be?
[He takes a moment to think about his answer]. The Adventure Club. You could mimic old adventures – historical adventures. You could be a pirate sailing a pirate ship or you could go out into the woods and kill an animal and wear its coat for warmth. You could break out of jail, or something fun like that – It’s like video games but real.
That sounds really cool!
Yeah, I’m not sure how it is beneficial though.
If you’re the leader of a coup or something and you are wrongfully imprisoned, it would be good to have that kind of experience. Or if the economy really goes south –
You would want to know how to loot and steal.
[We both laugh].
You’re from Washington, D.C., right? What are your thoughts on the election?
It’s certainly revolutionary and very historical. It is perhaps the most important election since FDR. [He grins]. That’s what CNN told me. I’m not going to pretend like those are my own thoughts.
[I likewise have nothing to offer on the subject that CNN didn’t tell me, so I decide to move on. I notice a Michael Jordan poster on the wall behind him].
I see you are a Michael Jordan fan. Tell me, what is your favorite MJ moment?
That’s actually my roommate’s posters. Those are mine. [He gestures to the walls behind me and to my left]. But I’d have to say my favorite was when he scored 55 points in the playoff game when he had the flu. If he can do that, I should be able to wake up and go to my 1:10 [p.m.] class. It makes you feel like a – [He pauses, choosing his words carefully] – like a D III athlete. Which we are.
[We both laugh because it is very true. I point to a poster of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam].
Are you into art history?
Nope, that’s roomie’s too. Those are mine.
[He points to every other poster in the room besides the two in which I showed interest. One of his posters is a photograph of a small tropical island bathed in the setting sun’s orange glow].
So you’re into paradise!
Paradise islands, treasure islands, fantasy islands, temptation islands too.
What is your favorite experience that you have had at Williams?
[He grins mischievously]. When I first met Scott Sobolewski’s [’10] girlfriend, Claire Gould. She goes to the University of Rhode Island.
I don’t think I’ve ever met her –
It seems as if she visits more than once a week, probably because she’s one of those people who, when they walk into a room, you automatically think, “Wow, I would really like to talk to her.” You can feel her presence.
[He has been grinning with every word. I begin to realize that Henry is playing a joke on his friend, so I encourage him to continue the joke].
She definitely sounds like a really great girl.
She’s a tall, tall, tall blonde, blue eyes – just striking.
[He pauses between words, as if savoring each attribute].
I know that Scott is one of your boys, so you must have a really close relationship with her.
Yeah absolutely! [His response is full of delight]. Scott almost gets jealous – it’s been a source of argument between him and me. It’s probably because of that family bond that all three of us hold.
Do you remember what she was wearing when you first met her?
Oh, let me think.
[He leans back in his chair and grins as he recalls the fateful night].
She was wearing a skimpy little white top, tight fitting blue jeans – stunning. She’s a catch. That’s all I can say about her. Did you know she’s a fashion major too?
I had no idea. Now I want to meet her.
I think she’s coming up this weekend.
Besides maintaining a healthy appreciation for your friend’s significant other, what do you see yourself doing in the future?
I actually got in trouble for that today.
For the future?
In Arabic class today, I had an oral presentation. I was talking about how I’d like to start families in multiple continents. It wasn’t received too well. But yeah, that’s about it: I just want to crank out as many kids as I can.
Well you wouldn’t really be cranking them out, would you?
No, I guess not.
But Bob Marley would have probably thought that was cool. He was all about spreading his seed.
I support Bob Marley and all of his policies.
What about Antarctica? Will you have a family there?
Well hopefully with global warming it will be decently inhabited by the time I’m 40.
It’s pretty much my only goal in life.
Hey, isn’t that what a liberal arts education is for anyway?