Monthly Archives: July 2008

The Lobby Couple: A Case Study in Deskie Horror

[Warning: This story is not for the faint of heart]

I once worked as a deskie (each dorm has a front desk, and a deskie is one who holds down the fort at that desk) and saw tons of strange people. There was no end to the drama and weirdness that I witnessed. I got to see lots of lobby couples too, which are the pain in the ass of every deskie. A lobby couple is a couple which interacts frequently in the lobby (since Open House is only about four days a week), usually with gross displays of affection.

Necessary Background: Both members of this couple are computer science majors and look like nerds. Both also look like middle-schoolers (I know I’m not one to judge others for looking young, but they are seriously creepy).

Offenses: They watched anime in the lobby. They also gathered their nerdy friends around the desk and talked about anime loudly. Every Sunday they would take the reduction in Open House (10 pm as opposed to 12 pm Saturdays) hard, clutching each other in their arms for several hours and carrying on as though one of them were going off to war the day after. But yet, every Monday morning I would see them walking hand in hand, not even a full 12 hours after their tearful and over dramatic goodbyes. Neither had any other friends that I ever saw them with (this means that I never saw them take any friends up to their rooms or go to the dining hall with other people), when they were with the group there was always both of them in attendence.

The Most Horrifying Display I’ve ever seen: One Sunday night, as the lobby couple was wrapping up their 2 hour long goodbye (and I was eagerly anticipating leaving) they moved towards the front door and the girl decided to let her bf know just how much she would miss him. She held up both hands and began the most frightful display of affection I have ever seen. Imagine, if you will, a children’s show where the host interacts with hand puppets. Now make the host very unappealing, the puppets non-existent as well as creepy and whiny and replace the audience with college males.

“I’m going to miss you,” one hand/puppet intoned.
“No! I’ll miss him more!” the other argued.

This argument went on for quite awhile, as I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the train wreck. I mouthed the words “Run!” to the boy but he ignored me.

Update on the two of them: Last year I began seeing the female often not accompanied by the male and looking like she had made new friends and improved her fashion sense, which lead me to believe that they had broken up. They were back together by second semester.

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Power Corrupts

A confession is due: I had a crush on a boy at Calvin my first year. He was absolutely lovely and i would religiously watch him through my dorm window, which faced the smoker’s pit. He basically looked like Andrew Schwab, only cuter, if such a thing can be imagined. I drooled over his lip ring, gaged ears, his rocker hair cut, tight black t-shirts and dreamy blue eyes which looked stunning set off by his black hair. I dreamed of drumming up enough courage to begin smoking so that I could go out and sit with him. Alas, I lacked balls my first semester and was still too straight-edge for my own good.

But then a terrible thing happened, he became an RA (Resident Assistant) the next year. The next time I saw him half the piercings in his face were gone, his hair was cut short and respectable, he wore loose fitting polos and had lost all sense of humour. He had become a pretty typical Calvin boy, uptight and not fun. I was devastated, my dream boy had turned into my worse nightmare.

He was then elected President of the Student Council or something, which meant he also acquired a hard-on for anything Calvin did.

Power corrupts, it turns perfectly beautiful people into monsters. Keep this in mind, kids.

Things overheard: Tatooed Creatures

I normally don’t eavesdrop on people, except for under certain circumstances. I’m never going to see many complete strangers I see on a daily basis around my town again, and I never look at the people (I’ll close my eyes or pretend to read and never look at their face). Weird justifications for my behavior? Probably, but you can hear fantastic conversations this way (especially at Calvin).

So here’s a tibit I overheard while at a Grosse Pointe park, poolside with a friend. I had my eyes closed and two stay at home moms were on our left chatting about what they bought their kids for their dorm rooms. Apparently, God is a garage sale enthusiast according to one of the women.

But after the second one walked away the first exclaimed to her son, “Where did all these tattooed creatures come from?!” She had exclaimed this in response to a man who had walked in who had a sleeve. I made sure to flaunt my own tat as I walked by too.

Kaydonthedinosaur= a tattooed creature.

How to date at Calvin College

For purposes of greater clarity, I shall divide this topic into two parts. Freshman and sophomore year in one group and junior and senior year in another. I do this for two reasons: a) because this is the typical divide between living on campus and living off-campus and b) Freshman and sophomore year you are aurrounded by people pressuring you to act in certain ways (dorm life is the greatest conformer ever). I am also, in this post, identifying the average experience; I’m not interested in exceptions to the rule or what the outsiders do. And, of course, this is merely a rough sketch which I shall hopefully have the opportunity to fill in more later.

Freshman/sophomore year:

  • one of the major things I remember from Quest (that’s the second level of orientation, for all you non-Calvinites) was the this piece of advice that we all were given: Break up with the gf/bf you have back home. Many heed that advice (except for the rebel outsiders).
  • The first floor date is a major deal freshman year. While it has all the awkwardness and lameness of a youth group outing, the girls at least make a big deal of it.
  • Most Calvin students come from Christian schools and conservative Christian backgrounds. This means that there is no casual dating. From the first official Facebook “In a Relationship” announcement it is assumed that you two will marry if you are together for more than a year.
  • “Dates” will take the form of going to the dining hall together, dorm banquets, movie nights (with all your friends) in you beloved’s dorm room or dorm basement and Calvin events.
  • Favorite make-out spots: The Hiemenga Hall courtyard (for those more daring), the corner of the stairwell in the dorms, the Sem. pond and in the dorm lobby where you think that the deskie can’t see you (hint: they may not be able to see you if you are up against the metal mailboxes, but the sounds you make will be magnified).

Junior/Senior year:

  • There is still no such thing as casual dating and if you and your beloved have been involved for more than a year an engagement ring is coming soon.
  • You will host dinner parties at your off-campus residence (or on-campus apt) and you will invite other couples you know
  • You might try, out of the both of yours’ desperation, to hook up your best friend. All contacts with the opposite sex start taking on a more desperate tone if you are single.
  • Dates may now take the form of off-campus events such as dinners, movies and ice skating.
  • You should start planning the wedding. And don’t even think about asking that girl out if you aren’t gonna propose, mister!

The “DTR”

Calvin is all about acronyms. We have the FAC, RAs, RDs, BV, BHT, etc, etc. It is confusing and feels bizarre for the first few weeks, until you learn that your world becomes so much easier once you just go with the system (the Bible doesn’t say anything about not conforming to your Christian college!) however weird it may be.

One acronym that every Calvin student dreams of using is “DTR”. Why? Because this means that this student is in a relationship with a good god-fearing boy or girl. Now, I admit that I have not researched this particular practice as much as pearling so updates about the further revelations of DTRing may come soon.

What it stands for: DTR stands for “defining the relationship”

WTF does that mean? Those readers who have ever been in a relationship in youth group may remember the “talk”. The first talk usually involves “Oh, um, are we official?” and the second deals with boundaries and whatnot. The DTR is the latter type of talk.

What things are defined: Is this relationship a casual dating relationship or are we on the superhighway towards marriage? If you are at Calvin you can damn well be sure that the relationship you are in is most certainly not casual, but it’s nice to have some reassurance. What physical boundaries are we going to set up? This involves more than regulations like “no touching of the breasts” and whatnot, but even goes as far as to ask questions like “Is it ok for us to visit each other in our dorm rooms?” (during open house hours, of course), “How often during the week will we “date”? “How do we define a “date”? etc, etc. They sometimes can get quite nitpicky (and if you’ve ever met a Calvin girl, you might understand).

A word of clarification: This sort of talk is different than the “we need to talk” type of talks that a girlfriend may pull on her boyfriend when she is ticked at him. A DTR usually takes place within the first few weeks of a relationship, though it may be later revised if either party wishes to further discuss some aspects of the first DTR.

Always remember, this guy should be included in your DTR

Always remember, this guy should be included in your DTR

When to screen “The Life of Brian”

One of the perks of being a CD (hell, if you don’t even know what you are supposed to be doing it’s at least good to have some perks) is that your personal taste is never criticized by those in your dorm. Yes, you may think that “Must Love Dogs” is a classic for the ages and even if nobody else agrees they will at least never oppose your suggestion of showing it some Friday night in the basement for all those in your dorm with nothing better to do (read: 60% of all Calvin students living in the dorms have nothing better to do Friday night).

But it is even sweeter to do if the movie you are showing is somehow controversial or not seen as good entertainment for the Christian. This means that you get to show off your awesome discerning power by making “Sweeney Todd” out to be an allegory of Christ’s life. Not only that, but it makes us Christians seem cool and hip to the outside world (again, think of Hillary Faye in the film “Saved!”) because we embrace pop culture while at the same time not offending any body’s parents or pastor by sanitizing the film.

Take Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian” for instance. Thirty years ago the film was banned by many and-

Er, this is just in, a Mayor of a Welsh town is moving to unban it! That little Welsh Tart! This will surely ruin some gutsy CD’s Lenten showing of “The Life of Brian”, because without the controversy it’s just another brilliant satire of what we all at Calvin hold dear. Damn!

Another case study: Jesus

Note: I’m not referring to the Jesus from Nazareth who walked about circa 30 BCE, but rather a curious Calvin student whom we have nicknamed “Jesus”. The reason for this, I hope, will become clear.

Necessary background info: Students from less “liturgical” churches are rarer at Calvin (I believe my friends who speak theology lingo would describe these churches as “lower” churches). Those coming from charismatic backgrounds rarer still and those who ascribe themselves to doctrines such as the “prosperity gospel” rarest of all (my freshman year there were probably only two of us, Jesus and yours truly; but my RA won’t let me talk about those days). In fact, though most Calvin students would be described as “evangelical” in their outlook towards the world, most do not describe themselves as evangelical (as in the evangelical subculture in the United States, see publications such as those from Focus on the Family, CCM magazine, etc).

Distinctive characteristics: Jesus speaks with a soft, beautiful African accent. This sometimes leads to people like myself asking him to repeat himself 3 or 4 times (I’m usually not a very good listener anyhow, just ask the boy who makes me food). He did/still does enjoy listening to sermons in the dorm’s computer lab (with or without headphones) and audibly responding to these sermons. In these same computer lab he would also corner the future E2 RA and give mini-sermons about various fantastic Biblical things if she did not answer about how Jesus was doing incredible things in her life convincingly enough when asked. He was also quite fond of corning the dudes on his floor with the same intention and lecturing the sick on how True Christians ™ never get sick (I, being endowed with a strong flight response, rarely was cornered and his roomie freshman year avoided his own room in order to escape). He is also a major proponent of Bible Bonanza and the Gospel Choir, as well as spamming the entire school’s inboxes with prosperity gospel sermonettes.

Now, many of you, who do not know this Jesus, might think I am exaggerating or persecuting a True Christian ™. Not so. I have been raised in a heavy environment of Charismatic sermons and ministries. faith-healing and prosperity gospel. I have a high religious woo tolerance.

Additionally, Calvin is a Christian college and as such it is guaranteed that we all love talking about the J-man (well, some of us would rather talk about how bitchin’ dinosaurs are but our voices are droned out). But occasionally we also like to talk about how awesome Obama (or McCain, if you are among the College Republicans or Huckabee, if you are the clinically insane dude on 2nd Beets with the Huckabee sign) is or the latest album were are discerning. Jesus is often seen on the path, presumably going to and from class, but never actually seen in class and all efforts to get him to talk about any other subject not prosperity-gospel related has been met with failure. Leading some to suspect that he is a robot…

An interesting fact: His nickname is almost universal among everyone who has had the pleasure to meet him. Mention the name “Jesus” in a context which demonstrates that you are not talking about the citizen of Roman Judea (hard to do at Calvin, but can be accomplished with a bit of work) and nearly everyone will know the exact person you are talking about.