I stumble through the doors of the Sadler Center at the usual hour, midnight or close to it. The line is long, but we patiently — though perhaps not quietly — slink our way through the Sadler Center entrance way. The semester’s been a tough one, and by now we’re sick of it all. There’s only one thing that can help. And them’s pancakes.
Pancake House, the night at the end of the semester where pancakes are provided free of cost to all who come to the Sadler Center, is really one of the greater traditions at the College of William and Mary, right behind a combined commitment to academic achievement and Sliders Sundays at the Caf. Students have finished their classes, not yet started to fret over their finals, and have but one goal in mind: We’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more pancakes.
As is probably obvious, Pancake House and I have a sort of shared understanding, we get each other. If you’ve attended the event in past semesters, chances are I’ve attempted to explain to you — ad nauseum, my ardent love of pancakes — and of any house that would choose to produce them. Perhaps I was a tad incoherent at the time, drunk as I was off the many-splendored syrups of the House, but the point is no less valid. I’ve taken it as my goal to convince as many as possible, not just to attend Pancake House — such a decision is too simple to even be considered — but to understand it, to appreciate it, to love it.
Part of the magic of Pancake House is its timing. It bestows pancakes on a population that is in particularly dire need of them — some who’ve dreamed of them for weeks, some whose physical well-being the next morning is contingent upon it. And sure, one would only have to wait mere hours for the SC to begin serving pancakes the following Saturday morning, but now is not the time to wait. Today: Blowout? Last Day of Classes? The day several high-functioning alcoholics are born? Call it what you may, it is not a time for waiting. It is a time for action, a time for pancakes.
This may seem like a trivial event to some, something to be taken lightly. However, this is far from the case. Something important is happening here. It’s a utopia of sorts — a coming together of minds, a celebration of our combine freedom from academic burden. And we’ve chosen the most noble of foods — egalitarian in its shape, but individual in its choice of toppings — around which to celebrate.
Yet more importantly, it unites two groups of people who would, in all other circumstances, keep entirely separate. Let’s call them the weary and the perky; those in need of pancakes and those providing them. It’s a symbiotic relationship, really (I mean, who else would they make pancakes for?). Each comes together to form a community — a substantial, albeit fleeting one — that exists outside of mere society. We’ve all come to a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-just-sit-here-while-that-happens sort of agreement. Everybody wins.
What if the world could be one great, big pancake house? What if we could, if only momentarily, put aside all our petty differences and work together towards a common goal, which is getting me some pancakes. What a wonderful place that would be.
Now, I’m not going to pretend I know how Pancake House works. I feel like no one really does. It’s a mystery to mere mortals such as myself — to be marveled at, but never fully understood, like Stonehenge or the Chupacabra. We may never know just how, or why, Pancake House came to be, but still we will rejoice. And there shall be syrups. Syrups of every shade and taste.
So come, eat drink and be merry. For tomorrow, we die of exhaustion.
__Kevin Mooney is a Flat Hat Confusion Corner columnist. He rejoices in syrup options.__