My 5th year college reunion is approaching and let’s just say I’m not not excited. Two days of merriment in Hanover, NH. What a fairytale. You’ll know when it’s happening because I’ll post a tweet or two… thousand.
Before it begins, I want to say some things about Dartmouth. I tried to come up with a pithy, encapsulating title for this collection of reflections, but the only accurate name is: Things I Want to Say About Dartmouth. A few of the thoughts are serious. Most are sentimental and amusing. Overall, looking back, a lot of things that we thought were normal were SO ABSURD. Like how the only coffee shop in town closed at 6 pm. Or the fact that we barely used cell phones. To find your friends on a Saturday night, you relied on serendipity supplemented by periodic checking of your messages through an antiquated intra-campus proto-email system (on pink eye infested public computers, when you cut through the library on the way to Frat Row or stopped to pee in Thayer on the way to Theta Delt). Absurd.
But before I get into happy-go-lucky nostalgia, let me unburden my regrets. I loved Dartmouth while I was there and I love Dartmouth now. But I also knew then and know now that there are some sick dysfunctions about that place. The problems with Dartmouth—conformism, anti-intellectualism, sexism, unfulfilling hookup culture, and over the top binge drinking—certainly have hindered the Institution and my own personal development. These problems have recently been the subject of shaming and deserved popular press. They should be exposed and deconstructed—even if such discussions interrupt a variety show for prospective students or a Friday’s worth of classes (and to all those alums who opposed this move: your sons are probably too hung over to attend Friday classes anyways).
I wish I got to know people deeper. I wish I had more engaging and intellectual conversations. I feel like a lot of meaningful exchanges were missed because we were always crammed in a basement that reeked of piss and beer. Today when I’m passing through a dodgy urban stretch (behind a bus station, in front of a Sleepy’s Mattress, etc.), and I get a waft of stale piss and beer, I immediately am flooded by college memories. Ah, that passed out hobo sure smells like college. Let me smell him again.
It’s easy to criticize Dartmouth’s culture now, but while I was there, I was a participant and a perpetuator. I drank the figurative and literal punch—even when I knew there was literal piss in it.
So let’s talk about the good stuff in my next post.