Hello! My name’s Dolan, and I’m in my second semester at Brown, having transferred in as a sophomore last fall. I’m happy to offer insights gathered from my time here in Second Time Around, in the form of stories of varying degrees of coherence. So, if you please, read ahead!
You sit in the Ratty. A single chair separates you from the clan of Neville Longbottom look-alikes to your right. Pre-Deathly Hallows Nevilles, to be exact. Like collard greens from the chef’s ladle, your gaze plops onto the plate in front of you: piled with burgers reminiscent of Squidward’s sojourn at the grill in that episode where Spongebob plays hooky and chicken as suspiciously white as this year’s Oscars, it’s a love letter from Dining to capitalism so sincere as to make Marx puke in his mouth.
Feeling empty inside, as much for lack of company as for the food ulcerating your stomach, you return your thoughts to your fellow diners. Would it really be a step across the Rubicon to scoot over and join their conversation?
Hold it. That’s the same thought that went through Neville Chamberlain’s head before he ceded Austria to ol’ Adolf, and your grandpa didn’t suffer dysentery for three years in the European Theater for his grandchild to sympathize with the Axis Powers. Still, the old man did vote “yes” on Prop 8, and, as your parents are fond of telling you, life without spontaneity is no life at all. Well, they only ever say that in the context of the night you were conceived, but the point remains: you shouldn’t limit your actions on account of the most lily-livered jerk to ever be British Prime Minister.
“Seriously,” you muse, “Neville must be one of those names that can’t belong to a decent person. Just like Kyle. Darn you, Kyle.”
Extinguishing your spite for the boy who tripped you as you ran back from recess that one time in fourth grade, you stand, poised to introduce yourself to your neighbors. Then it hits you, like the Dodge Grand Caravan that robbed you of your childhood pup. One of the Gryffindors is wearing a fedora.
A riptide of fear grips your psyche. In retrospect, you expected this: their anime references and tirades against girls who only date jerks should have been like those red flags that warn even the most negligent beachgoer of the danger beneath the surf. Nevertheless, like many a visitor to the sun-kissed shores of Florida, you swam too far. “These guys probably fetishize My Little Pony,” you dread; “Oh my god, what if they identify as ‘meninists’…unironically?!” Each successive realization wretches the air from your lungs.
You run for the door, but collapse to the ground as you approach that table with the fruit baskets. Kyle’s face flashes across your line of sight, then disappears, like donut runners on a December night. Darn you, Kyle…
Lifting your cheek from the floor, you hope to catch a sympathetic eye. Unfortunately, you can’t expect much of a response from students accustomed to receiving pastries from their naked peers during finals week. Your stomach sears like the Krusty Krab grill under Squidward’s watch. You plead for your grandfather’s forgiveness for having doubted the pain of dysentery. Jason Derulo’s “Whatcha Say” caresses your ear like the kiss of Judas, and you do not understand.
“Oh fiddlesticks! Looks like someone slipped a smidgen of gluten into those chicken breasts that you just finished munching on,” I say, as I leap from a basket of oranges.
“Oh my god,” you snap. “You still owe me three grand for that roof!”
“Speaking of cash,” I reply, “it shouldn’t cost you a terribly unreasonable copay to get a stomach biopsy done at Health Services– conveniently located in Andrews House at 13 Brown Street– which you should probably do. I’m no doctor, but it looks like you’ve got a pretty typical case of Celiac’s disease to me.”
“Fine. Can you just please stop following me? I’m getting tired of this and my stomach hurts.”
“In the meantime,” I answer, ignoring your question, “I highly recommend that you visit http://www.brown.edu/Student_Services/Food_Services/eateries/refectory_menu.php in order to check up on the ingredients of the Ratty’s offerings for the next few days. Alternatively, if you have a severe allergy requiring separate cooking facilities so as to not risk cross-contamination with an offending substance, be sure to contact Student and Employee Accessibility Services! Bon appétit!”
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