Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This writer was assigned to write the Swatter. There was never any promise of adventure, of mischief, of sin. And yet, what follows was utterly inevitable.
It was 2:49 in the afternoon. The sun was harsh in the overcast sky. Hardly a soul was moving on Parrish Beach as the Bio 2 birdwatchers stood immobile on the grass, like grim statues, leering at their robins.
In the midst of the birdwatching, one lone student could be found limping towards Worth. Internally, she wished she had not sprained her ankle so she could go running triumphantly down the lawn, scattering the scavenging fowl, and speed off down the hill, leaving the Bio 2 birdwatchers to scream and shake their fists. But such glory was not to come to pass.
As she walked up to Worth, she prayed that Worth would not tell her she was pregnant again, like last time when she had burned her arm with acid. Before she opened the door, she stared up at the sky as if into the void. Worth, as it were, determined she was no longer alive and sent her to the hospital for defibrillation.
It was a typical night at Swarthmore. It was a night of joviality, of love, of loss, of the “Black Friday” party in Olde Club.
And yet, despite the night’s typicality, something was amiss.
At 10:17, two officers of Public Safety, one stout and one slim, were summoned. They were summoned to Wharton residence hall at the call of a distressed student. That student had sniffed…a “suspicious odor.” As the two officers resolutely climbed the steps below Wharton CD, they contemplated the true meaning of duty, of justice, of what it means to be a servant of the public good. As they strode into the Wharton B stairwell with a heightened sense of purpose, they let the door shut with a thud behind them. Then, in unison, in a cosmic moment of perfect togetherness…they sniffed.
The stout officer was the first to break the silence: “Pot.”
Then, after a moment of gravity, the slim one answered, “Pot, yes.”
Like a bottle of mouthwash, marijuana has that magical quality of transforming, with a mere whiff, two people into Lewinsky-Clinton metaphors.
Their eyes locked, and then, like that fell night in the Oval Office, the tension snapped under the pressure of their bitter mortality, and they suddenly fell into each other’s passionate embrace.
See what I just did? The mundane, the bastard child of routine and a frustrated sense of mortality, erases the lines between the expected and the dangerous. As was once uttered by the visionary Bertolt Brecht: “It is for the superfluous that one lives.”
It was 11:34 a.m.; somehow, the Wharton resident (let us call him Gregor for now) had slept through much of the morning already. He would probably have slept longer had it not been for a buzzing sound in his room. He opened his eyes and could not see where the buzzing was coming from. His back was quite stiff from sleeping in an odd position and his head was already pulsing from his hangover. He realized the girl who he had hooked up with last night had left and in her place was a dark, hairy feeler. This perturbed Gregor, and he tried to jab the feeler away. But the feeler moved instead! And with a sinking feeling, Gregor realized he had been shoved yet again into the plot of a Franz Kafka novel.
He turned to look out the window at the overcast sky. “Should” he wondered despondently, “I try to call Worth?” His phone began to ring on the floor, and he tried to scuttle over to the side of the bed to see who it was. His left wing crumpled underneath him painfully, but he was able to poke his head over far enough to see it was his mother. He ignored the call, so that he could try to uncrumple his left wing and once he had slipped his wing out from under himself, he realized he could not walk very well with six legs. He decided to go to Worth but could not open the door because he no longer had opposable thumbs. He heard voices outside his door, though, and decided to bash his head against the door to see if they would open it. Luckily, the two girls outside heard him and one said “Are you OK?” but all Gregor could do was give a halfhearted buzz. So they cautiously unlocked the door, peeked inside, and had quite a delayed reaction before they screamed, slammed the door, and ran down the hall.
Public Safety and Facilities subsequently responded to Wharton for a report of wasps.
Monday 3/30 – Power Outage
Monday morning began just like one of the lines of cocaine I’d witnessed, as an innocent bystander, being cautiously sniffed two and a half weeks ago by some faceless and nameless Swattie and his friend in the dark, off a small, rectangular mirror: sitting upon the surreal grass-carpeted stage in the amphitheater like a stage within a stage: which is to say, vague and disjointed like a sentence which has been poorly constructed. It was at this moment when the residents of Wharton were plunged into darkness by an unexpected power outage. At 12:19 a.m., Public Safety’s phone lines were overrun by all 218 residents of Wharton calling Public Safety at the same time, minus the students who were not in Wharton, had forgotten to charge their phones, or were urgently Yik Yakking and posting Facebook statuses about the power outage, so they received approximately 4 calls.
Enter Public Safety.
When they arrived, the windows of Wharton were dark and ominous, seeming even more unnatural to the dark soul one might share with the forest at night than the glow from iPhone screens being used in every other window, held by the silhouettes of frantic Swatties trying to preserve their battery power for the purpose of doggedly continuing to highlight their textbooks.
The Public Safety officer quietly pulled over his car, walked over to the basement door, serenely went into the basement and flipped on the generator switch. Howling cheers could be heard above him, echoing through the night. Public Safety was unable to ascertain the cause of the power failure.
Featured image courtesy of http://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l543.