Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I just spent a weekend at my alma mater. This has been happening once a year lately, when a bunch of alums from my, let's say, vintage converge on the campus and behave as badly as possible. I manage to go through most of life as a responsible and mature woman, meeting my obligations, safe to invite to events. Why is it that I drive five and a half hours, go through the campus gates, get out of my car, and am suddenly an 18 year-old again?

This phenomenon is not unique to my campus or age group. I watch this same thing every June in my hometown, when middle-aged graduates of the local college take over my neighborhood for their alumni weekend. They tailgate, take over the neighborhood bars, march hungover down the street in a parade; they leave the campus as much of a mess as we must have left our campus on Sunday. Homecoming weekend here is even more of a boozefest each fall, when the Lafayette/Lehigh football game leads hundreds of people who should know better to get day drunk.

In my real life I spend my weekends participating in activities that don't feature quantities of alcohol. In my real life, I don't go to a dining hall for a "breakfast" that consists of half a pound of bacon, steam table eggs, grits, and, in order to pretend I'm healthy, one piece of fruit. In my real life I don't follow that up with a lunch that consists of grilled cheese, corn pudding, and dessert, then begin happy hour at 3 PM. In my real life, when I go listen to a band, I don't join the people rushing the stage to dance behind the band, only to repeatedly be chased off said stage by campus security.

I did learn an important lesson this weekend, though: no matter how stupid I may act, there's always someone else about whom I can say, "At least I'm not that girl." At least I'm not that girl who tore apart her banquet centerpiece and threw the boxwoods at the band, soaking the guitarist. At least I'm not that girl who put pieces of her centerpiece in her hair, leaving her looking much like Pocahontas. At least I wasn't having sex with my date and calling it dancing. Yes, true, I didn't have a date, but still, I wasn't that girl. I was not the girl wearing a gown more fit for a beauty pageant and spilling out of it. I was not the girl who attempted to run a lap around the indoor track suspended above the dance floor and who was chased down by security, although that girl was from my group.

I was plenty of things. I was a grown-up behaving like a child. I was having fun. The only thing I wasn't, was that girl.

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