Williamsburg heat wave: Slick backs, new friends


There are two facts that every student at the College of William and Mary should know about famous comedian John Mulaney. The first vital bit of knowledge is that I possess an undying affection for him; his sly smiles cause me to blush with such vibrant hues of crimson that I resembled a tomato just five minutes into his latest Netflix comedy special.

However, diatribes about our forbidden love are neither here nor there. The most important contribution Mulaney has granted us as a community is his iconic description of back sweat, which after an unbearably warm week in Williamsburg, is the relatable content we all need and deserve.

Mulaney describes his transition into middle age as fraught by various “gross” symptoms, most notably the consistent presence of back sweat. He compares himself to a dolphin; like an aquatic mammal, his back never becomes totally immersed in water but instead remains in a purgatory of perpetual slickness.

I cannot speak for the rest of the College, but I too felt like a dolphin throughout much of the first week of the fall semester. I spent a month in Williamsburg this summer and days I found unbearable in June would have been welcomed with open arms in August. The heat refused to relent even for Convocation, where the scorching temperatures may have led some new students to question if they were walking toward the Sunken Garden or through the fiery gates of hell.

However, while I love whining about the warm weather as much as the next twamp, the timing of our swamp’s heat wave may have one positive consequence.

Welcoming new freshmen and transfer students is an exciting time for our campus, but we can all admit that small talk grows exhausting within a few days. Luckily, the heat alleviated that exhaustion by adding another tidbit to every twamp’s social repertoire.

Misery truly does love company; everyone loves to complain and having a common phenomenon to decry is an undeniably enjoyable activity. Last week’s heat wave gave students something to commiserate about when their discussions of hometowns and intended majors turned tepid, and having such a warm first week in Williamsburg provided yet another opportunity for new members of the College to bond over their shared experiences.

Better still, when temperatures gradually drop to a more tolerable 80 degrees and humidity dips below a 90 percent threshold in the coming weeks, new students will welcome the arrival of good weather and eagerly start to explore the College’s vast outdoors.

Perhaps they’ll even do it with the acquaintances they made during orientation, whose friendships blossomed with just a few initial complaints about the heat.

That being said, there is the chance we face a semester’s worth of excruciating temperatures and unbearably slick backs. If that’s the case, friendship is irrelevant, and instead of spending time with the people we care about, everyone should focus on obtaining as many fans and tank tops as possible.

Email Ethan Brown at ewbrown@email.wm.edu.


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