Oct 162013
 

My portion of the blog has been down for a little while, on account of work and such.

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In any case, the big highlight of the week has been Homecoming, if you couldn’t already tell from other blog posts.

Which usually takes up a solid three days (for the more intense people, it starts around Thursday night and goes through Sunday). Except I have 2 exams for the same class coming up soon, so I did all of Homecoming in one night. I had no desire to go to the football game against Yale on Saturday afternoon; I don’t really understand football (200 pound men running at each other at ridiculous speeds in what is possibly the most dangerous game of chicken ever). Plus, I had to read Cicero with my thesis adviser for the better part of Saturday afternoon…so…football…ain’t nobody got time for that.

But Friday’s bonfire was interesting. It’s a tradition here to have the freshman class run around the bonfire 100 times plus the last two digits of their graduating year. Theoretically, I was supposed to run around the fire 114 times (I emphasize “theoretically“; I, ever so athletically inept, ran around 14 times). This year, the class of 2017 was expected to run around 117 times.

Now, it’s also an unofficial tradition here to harass the freshmen as they run around the bonfire; you might see spectators screaming things like “Worst class ever!” or “Touch the fire!” to the freshmen (that’s the tamest of things screamed), tripping them, pushing them, etc. To be perfectly fair to Dartmouth, that tradition seems to be fading gradually, and those who heckle are usually…not quite themselves at the time? And ever-increasingly in the minority, I’m pleased to say.

But my own freshman homecoming experience was less than delightful, if I recall correctly.

In Fall 2010, I was running around the bonfire with this lovely lady:

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(Taken in our sophomore year–I’ll get to that later)

We decided to run around the fire 14 times as opposed to the “requisite” 114. And it was going just swimmingly, until a horrible little person showed up. This child could not have been older than late middle school age, or perhaps just into high school. But my friend and I are both small people, and this kid was quite solid, so we were well matched in size. On our tenth lap, Little Mr. Awful sneaked out of the crowd and slapped both of us. Hey! Who do you think you are?

So we tried edging away. Didn’t work. Too many people. Eleventh lap, the evil miscreant found us with his beady little eagle eyes. SMACK.

SERIOUSLY, KID?!

Twelfth time around: Little Mr. Awful stuck out his awful little foot and kicked us. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Where are your parents!

Thirteenth time around, we were especially wary of Little Mr. Awful. And, of course, he found us AGAIN. This time, however, he grabbed the glow stick hanging on a long string around my friend’s neck, pulled her out of the circle, and wrestled her down. Now, both of us are not much over 5 feet tall, and one of us was getting strangled by a prepubescent demon with long fingers and possibly homicidal tendencies.

Needless to say, I was less than thrilled. So, without going into too many details, I may have gotten into a mild “altercation” with him in an attempt to rescue my poor friend. And the attempt was successful, but not without consequences.

I drew the attention of the crowd of spectators within my immediate vicinity…and it was not pleasant, much to my chagrin. “Hey, girl, what’s WRONG with you?”

“WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? HE’S CHOKING HER, for God’s sake! Are you all insane?!” Priorities, guys.

Also, I’m paraphrasing. That exchange included much more colorful language, which I’m choosing to exclude in an effort to not offend your delicate sensibilities.

Now, when did it become okay for random inhabitants of Hanover to assault freshmen? As a matter of fact, it’s never okay when the upperclassmen do it, but seriously? Behave yourself, Hanover. I’ll take none of that from a child, thank you very much. He doesn’t even go here.

I’m a peace-loving, gentle soul, however, and, not wishing to further any conflict, ran another lap with my friend, and left. 14 laps. Done and done.

Actually, it had more to do with the fact that I’d just gotten into a physical struggle with another kid (NOT WITHOUT GOOD REASON) and didn’t feel like hanging around long enough to have to explain the situation.

I regret nothing. No one attempts to cut off my friend’s airway and gets away with it.

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So, in my sophomore year, I thought that we might paint motivational posters for the class of 2015 and stand around the fire with them. We decided to Homecoming a little differently, and it was great. A group of friends of mine got together and did just that.

And here’s the beauty of Dartmouth: someone somewhere always takes it upon himself to be a good person. For every inebriated fool on campus, there have to be at least 10 decent people. Several different student groups simultaneously came up with the same idea, as it happens. So, were you at 2011′s fall bonfire, you would have seen groups of students holding sweet signs up for the ’15s in a massive circle around the ring of running freshmen and cheering them on.

And this year, East Wheelock Cluster Council decided to turn this business into a cluster event. The posters are now decorating Brace Commons:

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Specimens of fine art, as you see here (the top one is mine! Bottom poster: courtesy of Miss Kristy Choi ’14).

We stood out there for a solid hour with our signs. And the area was a lot more secure than I’d noticed before (mind you, I was off last fall and missed Homecoming, but I heard that harassment of anyone at the fire was kept to a minimum. Same thing this year). The beginning of the fire was quite amusing–before it was even lit, the ’17s started running. Nota bene for any incoming classes: SAVE YOUR STRENGTH. It’s a trivial piece of advice, but you might later appreciate it. Don’t run around the pile of wood before it even starts to burn. That’s silly.

Our group quickly became exasperated at the sight and started calling their attention to that minor detail: “Guys. Hey. Guys. Fire’s not lit yet. Stop running. Stop it. HEY.”

We went from obvious: “It’s not even burning!”

…to wheedling: “Please? Save your strength! 117 laps are a lot!”

…to threats: “All right, THAT’S IT! We’re taking the signs away!”

But to no avail. Oh well.

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