The Dartmouth Bucket List
By Lauren Vespoli, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, November 9, 2012
If nothing else, this week I may prove how little shame I have left — or, to spin it positively, the lengths to which I will go for this column. And, because it’s Priya and Casey’s last issue, I’d like to give a shout-out to all of their hard work over the past three terms on The Mirror, as well as a special thank you to Priya and fellow columnist Kate — my Bucket List partners in crime — for joining me on my most recent mission. In honor of this week’s freshman fall theme, I decided to travel back in time to a place where few self-respecting seniors have gone before — the freshman pregame.
To start this assignment, I texted some of the ’16s I know to get a read on what was “going on,” to little avail and some embarrassment. A few choice quotes of the responses I received: “I’ll def hit you up with the deets,” and, “Come on Lauren, you’re too old to be playing with the kiddies.” But alas, no pregame leads.
I wasn’t giving up — girl’s gotta write a column somehow — so it looked like it was time for Plan B: trolling freshman floors and keeping our elderly ears peeled for thumping bass muffled behind a closed door. Although I may be ancient, the era of freshman pregames doesn’t seem all that long ago. I knew all the classic signs. For example: the closed door is an attempt at subtlety to block unwanted floormates and Safety and Security from the revelry taking place inside, which generally consists of gathering around liquor cheap enough to come from a plastic bottle and mixers from Topside. The most elaborate freshman pregame I ever attended was over Halloween, when a friend turned a pumpkin into a vessel for alcohol. Despite my own knowledge of the freshman pregame, I was anxious at the prospect of walking into a room full of 18-year-olds I didn’t know.
I eased my apprehension with baked goods from Phi Tau’s Milque and Cookies party, where I sampled macaroons, bark and classic chocolate chip cookie concoctions. Feeling fortified and ready to jump into the freshman fray, Priya, Kate and I agreed on our alibi. We would tell whomever we met that we lived on that floor freshman year and were just stopping by because we wanted to see our old rooms. We felt this to be significantly less weird than the real reason.
Sussell Rage was naturally our first stop, but the freshman dorm renowned year after year as the “ragiest” was completely dead. We tried next door at Fahey-McLane, hoping for some better luck, but instead we found a group of ’16s adorably sitting in the hallway of my old freshman floor, so we ended up just visiting my old freshman room. Our alibi proved true, ergo we were less creepy.
Next came McLaughlin. The promising look of some plastic cups outside one room got our pregame hopes up. However upon knocking, we discovered a very sick ’16 girl in her bed surrounded by a pile of tissues. Needless to say, she did not find our curiosity or nostalgia very amusing.
We did not end up finding a freshman pregame that night. I guess the Saturday after Homecoming and Halloween can be a slow one. We did find some heartwarming examples of the kind of companionship that only forms in that strange other-world of freshman year, when access to pong tables is limited and you are forced to befriend the people you live with because you don’t know anyone else. We saw a common room where couches had been pushed together and covered with blankets to make a fort. In another floor’s kitchen, a group of ’16s sat around eating takeout together.
Through talking to the ’16s we met, it was bizarre how few degrees of separation there were between us — the indisputably wise and debatably jaded upperclassmen — and them, who were just about to finish their very first 10 weeks of Dartmouth. All of the freshmen we randomly met knew people we knew. And although we never found the pregame we were looking for, in the end we got to weird out some ’16s with our reminiscences about the good old days when we lived in their rooms and had all of Dartmouth ahead of us.