The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Column: Fond memories from a graduating Grinnellian

I’m graduating in two weeks, and I am terrified. I know the real world might be awesome and full of adventures and that, realistically, the rest of my life won’t suck, but I don’t care. In my mind, leaving from Grinnell is the sequel to leaving the womb—Birth 2: Electric Boogaloo. I’m pretty sure that outside Grinnell, you can’t sit in the sun for six hours at a time, do all manner of illegal things without suffering the consequences, and use the words “hegemony” and “post-structuralism” in the same sentence. WTF.

I know it seems like every senior is whining about this right now, but doing all these things for the last time is just really weird. Even now, typing this, I’m thinking, “Man, is this the last time I’ll use the publications office to write a column that was due several days ago?”

Because if this is my last column, then I’d like to tell you a few stories. (Wow, it’s amazing how you can actually hear people turning to the next newspaper page through the space-time continuum.) Keep in mind that at least one of these stories is really horribly embarrassing. Whatever. I’ve never been one to pretend that I’m cool. And if you’re sitting there shaking your head and wanting to convince me otherwise, oh-ho, read on.

First Year
Once upon a time, Quad was a dining hall, candy was only a penny, dinosaurs roamed outside and I was a foolish first-year. Sometime during my first months at Grinnell, I was in the dining hall for breakfast when I spotted some delicious bacon. “Mmm, delicious bacon,” I thought. “If only there was something even more delicious, like that piece of French toast they considerately placed under the bacon for me to eat!” Unbeknownst to me, the “French toast” was actually a piece of bread that had been sitting under the bacon for hours, soaking up the fat until it was literally sopping wet. I took it back to my table, took a bite, and immediately understood my mistake. It was probably the second worst decision I’ve ever made—the first being taking three more bites before I decided really, no, this isn’t food, I’ll get something else.

Second Year
Deep breath. Okay, here we go. In the spring of my second year, I was in a mainstage production that I won’t name. It had a lot of elaborate costumes and long singing numbers, and I had a small part as a woman who was drunk most of the time. The night of our final performance fell on Disco, I had a bottle of vodka handy, and since my character was drunk anyway . . . well, you probably get my drift. It was probably one of the more stupid things I’ve ever done, a fact that became clear as soon as I decided to go to the bathroom.

I got into the stall, pulled down my elaborate costume, peed, thought, “Sweet, I’m done peeing,” pulled up my costume, realized I had been wrong in my previous assessment, and . . . again, you probably get my drift. Drunkenly mortified, I scampered to the costume studio and told them that, um, I was going to need a new costume. And if you think that people take kindly to you telling them you peed on your costume because you were drunk during the production, well . . .

Third Year
Fall of my third year, I went abroad to Grinnell-in-London, which, if you’re considering going abroad, is basically the best thing ever. Seriously, go. Right now. Don’t even wait for the program to start. Anyway, one night my friend had a few drinks and decided (for a reason I still don’t understand) to throw a bottle of wine off the roof of our building. Fortunately we didn’t become accidental murderers; unfortunately, a woman saw the bottle and chased us down from the roof, shouting, “You stupid girl! You stupid, stupid girl!” in a scary British accent.

The next day, we saw there was a letter under our landlord’s office door and figured it was about our antics on the roof. “We have to get that letter,” I said, Queen of Foresight that I am. So I grabbed the only long, flat object I could find—which happened to be a HUGE BUTCHER KNIFE—and headed downstairs with my friend. We were standing there, about to put the knife under the door, when we looked up at the corner and saw a security camera. Pointing at us. And our butcher knife. Hmmm, we thought, this looks really bad. Also, isn’t tampering with mail a federal offense, now that we come to think of it? Let us never speak of this again.

Senior Year
Sometime in the fall, my friends and I were hanging out on their balcony when we spotted a mysterious white object in the middle of the road. None of us could tell what it was, so we sent a member of the group to investigate. While she was gone, I made the mistake of going to the bathroom, allowing all kinds of tricksy business to happen behind my back. When I returned, they all looked distraught. “Rachel, it’s a severed cat head,” my friend said. “It’s lying in the middle of the road and its body is nowhere to be found.” ‘How horrific!’ I thought. ‘The most horrific!’

They insisted that we go downstairs and look at it, and the whole time I was preparing for the worst. “Would we have to move it?” I thought frantically. What’s the protocol for finding half a cat body in your neighborhood?! COLLEGE HAS TAUGHT ME NOTHING. I’m ashamed to think of how close we were before I realized: it was a cup. An empty soda cup. Not a severed cat head. I actually still feel stupid about this. A cat head. Really.

If there’s an overarching theme to these stories, it’s probably that I am an idiot. But that’s the great thing about Grinnell: it gives you the chance to be an idiot in a place full of amazing people who won’t judge you and will only occasionally trick you into thinking that objects are other objects. Sure, I’m going to miss ARH, Disco, and the dining hall carrot cake, but mostly I’m sad to be leaving all of you. You have made the last four years so unbelievably fun and awkward and wonderful. I couldn’t have become the person I am without you, and since I’m clearly the kind of person who writes about peeing on herself in a public forum, I think we’ve both accomplished a lot.

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