Hello, beautiful readers! I am back in Colorado after a sixteen hour car drive through California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. It’s good to be home, and it’s good to be writing again.
It’s Tuesday, which means it’s Haiku day… but I didn’t post anything yesterday. Which means–hold on to your butts–TWO posts today! Holy cowabunga, I must really love you guys (And I do. I really, really do)! So here goes, a little ditty about my last USC event besides my upcoming graduation.
College is supposedly the defining era in life for a lot of people. You go to an elaborate day camp, drink yourself into oblivion, and leave four years later with a slip of paper that hopefully gives you your dignity back. Or, it gives you an excuse to be slutty. Or, you know, it helps you learn and stuff.
I did not have a typical or stereotypical college experience. I’m not much of a drinker, and I haven’t taken anything that wasn’t ever prescribed to me by my psychiatrist. I am a stickler for rules, overly-cautious because an anxiety disorder makes it nearly impossible to be irresponsible. Trust me, I’ve tried.
I went to college to learn, which may come as a surprise to some of you. I chose the University of Southern California for its location (a nice, little, deadly ghetto just south of Downtown Los Angeles), it’s academic rankings (It’s a top 25 school), the fact that it had a Creative Writing major, the alumni network, the weather, the fact that the school’s colors are Gryffindor colors, and because our mascots are the Trojans. And also because, according to the statistics, USC students are pretty smart. Which is surprising, given that the majority act like idiots.
I knew USC had a large Greek system and a “slight” (read: “prolific”) reputation as a party school, but I still thought that I’d be in a community that valued intelligence and hard work more than jungle juice and dry-humping.
Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, USC is a great school, with amazing faculty and staff, and with some extremely bright people, but I was overall extremely underwhelmed by my peers. A lot of them were shallow, obnoxious, entitled and stupid. They were about who you know, how much money your parents make, what sorority or fraternity you’re in, and who you’re wearing. But you can find those people anywhere. The problem is, at USC, they all group together and squawk very loudly.
As a result of not bonding with the other kids I found at USC (I really don’t care about what house you’re in or what shoes you’re wearing, but I do count how many times you say “like” when you attempt to speak in full sentences), all of my best USC memories involve my friends and family from Colorado. All but two.
The first memory was my first-ever USC football game. It was against OSU, the stadium was filled to capacity (a hair over 93,000 people), and we absolutely destroyed them. I had goosebumps. It was magical.
The second occurred last Thursday, and it’s not a happy memory. But it is one that already makes me laugh until my abs hurt.
Every year, the seniors at USC celebrate their impending unemployment and mounting student debt by running through all of the 20+ fountains on campus, absolutely drunk out of their minds. It’s a perfect display of idiocy and awesomeness, and I had been looking forward to it since the minute I saw some girls face-plant into a fountain.
That anticipation? That was my first mistake.
My second mistake ties into what I said earlier about bonding with my peers. It’s hard to do a fountain run with thousands of people when you disdain a fair majority of them.
My third mistake was not having my own group of friends to go with. As with high school, most of my friends came from outside of the school. When I was a senior in high school, I didn’t go to my senior prom (Probably because no one asked me or asked me to come in their group… Yeah, I was that cool), and instead I watched a movie with one of my best friends that didn’t go to high school with me. Anyway, since I never developed a clique, I just sort of hoped one of my friends would let me accompany them. I planned on going with my wonderful friend Giselle, but she had a show to go to that didn’t end until right when the run started.
My fourth mistake was going sober. Being sober around thousands of trashed people is like being the only person stuck in the run of the bulls, only with more vomit and groping.
So there I was, stone-cold sober, wearing my one-piece swimsuit, boy’s batman underwear, with my hula-hoop slung over my shoulder, and ready to run through some god damn fountains.
The run started at ten. Giselle said her show would go to ten, and that we would meet at the Finger Fountain. For those of you who don’t know, the Finger Fountain is shaped like a giant middle finger, perpetually giving a huge Fuck You in the direction of UCLA. It is glorious, and a crowning achievement in subtle art.
I got to the fountain at 10:05 and called Giselle. Nothing. I stood, watching my fellow Class of 2012ers drunkenly stumble towards the fountain, chants of “U-S-C” and the occasional “U-S-A” emerging from their mouths like the vomit that followed hours (or minutes) later.
I stood. I watched. I waited. At 10:15, I called Giselle to no answer. At this point–standing in my batman underwear and swimsuit–I realized her show probably wouldn’t get out until 10:30. Which meant I had time to go buy alcohol and get drunk, but I’m not really one for drinking alone in my car. Or alone. Or drinking.
Instead, I moved to a vantage point where I could watch the stupidity at the fountain unfold. I began hula-hooping. My favorite demographic–drunken frat boys–called out to me: “Wow!” “Fuck, yeah, hula-hoop girl!” And my personal favorite, delivered by a suave budding alcoholic: “I like your curly hair. Nobody has curly hair. So it’s hot” followed by staggering towards the fountain that, minutes earlier, had began smelling like vomit.
I love watching drunk people (from a distance). It’s like watching toddlers waddle around in large groups. They have no sense of balance, space, propriety, or the proper use of the English language. Except, however, toddlers are adorable. When you’re sober, drunk people are annoying as shit.
Finally after half an hour, Giselle called me to tell me they were leaving the show. She said she would text me when they got to the Finger Fountain.
Fifth Mistake: Thinking that would only take five minutes. Or be her first stop.
Ten minutes later, I receive a text from Giselle with a location. I’m standing with my hoop folded, resting on my shoulder, ready to run… and it was in that moment I discovered that Giselle wasn’t headed to the Finger Fountain as a starting point. She was doing the fountain run with the Finger as a pit stop (That’s what she said) where she would pick up her sad, pathetic, sober, lonely friend Whitney and finish the run with the last few fountains.
Fuck it, I thought, cheeks reddening. I’m going to do the run by myself. I ran into the Finger Fountain sober, alone, and proudly displaying my Batman underoos. The water was cold, cloudy, and crowded. I was probably catching some terrible super virus created by the four-year sexcapades of my peers.
After standing awkwardly in the fountain, not talking to anyone and sloshing around, I began sprinting towards the next one, charging through hordes of dizzy girls in their underwear.
At the film school, Giselle texted me again, saying she was at the fountain at the campus Center. I responded, telling her to stay there and that I’d be there in five minutes.
My heart rose, hopeful (Sixth mistake). I sprinted half a mile to the campus center, where Giselle was no where to be found. Heartbroken, Batman undies no longer making me feel like a bad-ass, I texted Giselle to let her know I was going home. That’s when she texted me, letting me know she was at the Finger Fountain.
The 3/4th mile walk back to my car is the stuff of legend. It is one of my best and worst memories, because it is so tragically amusing.
Picture this: Me, in all my swimsuit/batman/hula hoop glory, walking head-bowed, tears streaming down my face.
That’s right. I was crying. It started with small sniffling, my fingers wiping away lone tears before they could embarrass my already-embarrassed self, trying not to cry in front of all of the other people on campus. By the time I back to the Finger Fountain, I was shaking with tears.
I took my phone out of my pocket and dialed my friend Kelly.
“Hello?” Her voice was drowsy. I had woken her up.
“Kelly?” I wheezed.
I cried harder. “I just wanted my last USC memory to be a good one. But I was ditched by Giselle, like I was by all my other USC friends. And I’m wearing my swimsuit and batman undies and I have my hula hoop…” as I told the story, the tears continued. I found my self spilling out all of the emotions I had about USC, its students, and the fact that I was moving from California in two days. I sobbed. The people walking next to me probably thought I was drunk and full of regret. When really I was sober and full of self-loathing. Which is basically the same thing, when you think about it.
And then, in my head, a scene played out. The exact same scene, but this time, in the movie version of my life. Ellen Page plays me. She walks crying to her car, with a sad Indie song playing in the background, having a conversation with her friend on the phone, discussing the movie of her life…
And I started laughing.
7 thoughts on “The Big College Send-Off”
Brilliant. Down to the last word. As someone living in California who graduated from Boulder, I can relate. Except, if USC has a “slight” reputation, Boulder is prodigious. Apples to apples though. I didn’t drink once at Uni, or anything else, and didn’t go or get invited to my senior prom. And I majored in creative writing. High five!
Great post. I wasn’t there, but I feel like I’ve experienced that, to the last detail. Droves of wandering drunks, tipping over cars and getting tear gassed by the police on Halloween. It’s really hard not to feel repugnant towards the drunken hordes I graduated with, but hey, the business world needs employees.
But yeah, congratulations on graduating! What’s next?
Boulder is constantly rated the #1 party school in the country. And I hate Boulder. I wish I could like it, I really do, but I’ve always hated drunk college kids.
High five for writers! And thanks for the congratulations! Next comes a really awesome teaching job prospect, bartending, and writing more and more stories.
Thanks for the comment, friend. 🙂
What I learned from that time period of life is: Fuck life as it’s presented to you. Make it the way it’s supposed to be. To hell with those losers. Pull back the veil and see!
Congrats and best of luck ever forward.
Just saw the link in your FB post and decided to read. I also felt like I was right there with you while you were writing, experiencing the chaos and discomfort.
I used to be in to writing poetry but haven’t in a long while. I look forward to reading you literary blog.
This whole thing is awesome! I love how you picture Ellen Page playing you. I love that actress, especially in “Whip It.” You’re very brave.
And you know what else? It’s awesome when you call your closest friend late at night and she takes the call. I think this Kelly person is a better friend than Giselle.
Giselle is a great friend–she couldn’t stay to meet me because she was holding all of her friends’ cell phones. But it was miscommunication at its finest, indeed.