What is it that defines the College of William and Mary? Is it the verdant forests, the ancient bricks or the azure skies? Perhaps it’s the legends created by those giants of American history who came before us. I assert that the College cannot be defined by any of these. The thing that truly makes our campus and our students unique is the array of totally bizarre things that we take in stride. Not quite sure what I mean? I’ve outlined a few of the idiosyncrasies that we’ve all long since stopped noticing, but which make the College experience uniquely surreal.
Shit where it doesn’t belong: You’ve all seen it. You’re on your way to the Earl Gregg Swem Library and — hey, there’s a truck in the middle of new campus. Sure, that’s fine. Can this be explained by deliveries to Mews? Maybe, but that isn’t the point. No one ever stops to question why this mammoth vehicle is parked between the benches and the sundial in front of Swem. We simply look up from our iPods, remark on the presence of the Peterbilt directly in our path, and go back to listening to our “walking across campus” playlists. Also, remember the giant hot air balloon in the Sunken Garden last year? No? Exactly. It happened. I’m going to conduct a social experiment: I’m just going to start placing weirder and weirder things in front of Swem to see if anyone takes notice. Look for my giant coffee mug next week.
Random littering of fruit: Maybe you’ve walked by the Commons or Yates Field and noticed it: the veritable graveyards of produce scattered across our campus. In any other context, stepping over splattered apples, splintered oranges and shattered grapefruits to get to class would be cause for alarm. Not here, though. Nope: here, such a sight is perfectly normal. What could be the rationale for not finding this strange? “Oh, I’m sure there was just a fruit war here.” The real explanation is that a huge number of people just take fruit from the Commons and massacre it by smashing it on the ground. This practice is completely bizarre, yet completely commonplace to denizens of the College.
Impossibly unnerving sounds: It’s 3 a.m. and you’re walking back to your dorm from Swem. It’s dark and you’re already creeped out, when suddenly you hear a hellish screech that sounds like a banshee mixed with a condor being slammed in a door. You whirl around, terrified, gasping. Is it a ghost? Is it a plane crash? No, it’s only the giant generator outside Swem doing its normal scare-the-hell-out-of-you routine. Perhaps an engineer can explain to me why it sounds like the devil himself, but until then I remain skeptical. Additionally, there is perhaps nothing more unsettling than being woken up by the sound of cannon fire. Yet if you live in Sorority Court or any of the Old Campus dorms, that is the nightmare you are sometimes lucky enough to get to experience, courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg. In any other place in America, this would be considered strange or given a second thought. Here at the College, it’s just another oddity that adds to the overall charm of the place.
So next time you come across any of these bizarre occurrences on our beloved campus, call them out. Celebrate them in all of their nonsensical beauty. Because later when you are reflecting fondly on your time here 30 years from now, you won’t be recalling your countless business lectures or tedious advisor meetings. You won’t remember the all nighters or the delicious dinners at the Caf. You’ll remember all the little things that made your time here unique, and maybe sometimes a little surreal. If you get one thing out of this article, let it be the fact that — Oh hey, what’s that truck doing there?
__Jason Rogers is a Confusion Corner columnist. While walking to class, he tries to avoid slipping on banana peels and bumping into large trucks. He is not always successful.__