Welcome to this week’s edition of The Fly On the Wall, a piece solely dedicated to observing the natural world around us, written from a college freshman’s perspective. In particular, this article is dedicated to relating the experiences we as Drake pupils have had thus far in the COVID-era semester. I want to preface by stating that I am not, in fact, a prophet, a senior vice president, or even the Lorax. My experiences don’t speak for all Drake students. Instead, I am just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose, just like Kevin Spacey in American Beauty.
Forget that. Some of us have got something to lose, but that’s best archived for the romance column, should the Times-Delphic make room in the budget for such a thing.
Let us start with the dining hall. Never have I gone a full day without hearing at least one squeaky little complaint about the menu. In my book, food is food, which I believe was also the Donner Party’s mission statement. Take a hike to Applebee’s if you desire green beans with a pinch more salt to them. Now, I will admit, the occasional SSOB does make its way to the frontline now and then. SSOB meaning, Some Sort Of Beef. Rumor has it the label on that meat package is more classified than Hillary’s emails. A reincarnated J. Edgar Hoover wouldn’t be able to take a peek. In a police lineup, not even the neighboring chicken would be able to identify this mystery meat. If you’re looking for something more nutritious, you’re better off eating your plastic to-go container.
I say this all in jest, of course. You want a real horror story, go check out what they’re serving at middle schools. Meatball hoagie, no, thank you.
We aren’t able to serve ourselves during the COVID era, of course, but in reality, that’s most likely a good thing. If they were still doing buffet-style, no doubt I’d already look like Jonah Hill pre-2017. The ones who serve the food look like they’d rather be at a funeral. Again, it’s a tall order to ask the staff to put on a smile when the six o’clock dinner line is longer than the time Trump stayed at Walter Reed.
Dining hall aside, everything else is virtual. Classes, floor meetings, and clubs have all succumbed to Zoom’s seductive pull. Physical activities, naturally, have escaped this pitiful fate, but, as with anything, masks are required to participate. I’m a member of the tennis club, and, even when a good seventy-eight feet apart, you’re either forced to look like Bane or are given the boot. If nothing else, at least I can feel safe knowing that, if the tennis ball were to cough, I’d be protected.
But the more I think about it, with virus cases on the rise, virtual dining is not out of the question. Students could be placed into breakout rooms to have a pixelated chat. A variety of color saturations could be offered like the stir-fry bar ingredients. Then, in the safety of their dorm room, students could absorb that blue light as if practicing photosynthesis. And then a dessert of blood would follow; with this jail time, some of us are already starting to look like vampires.
Last, the bathrooms. Not as homey as the Holiday Inn ones, sure, but at least they don’t look like the one-room johns at the local 7-Eleven. I suspect there are enough bacteria in those cans to kill the entire nation of China. The situation in the residence halls isn’t all that much more encouraging, though. See, the men’s lavatory is identical to the women’s, which equates to there being not a urinal in sight. But to guys whose aim is worse than Star Wars stormtroopers, a bathroom full of stalls is nothing short of a nightmare. Prying your shoes from that floor is like pulling apart two pieces of duct tape. Legend has it the starting quarterback is still stuck in the fourth stall on Crawford’s second floor.
Not to worry, though, because when he finally frees himself, everyone will know. The stall doors swinging closed are louder than the whale shark-sized drums they used in the Roman Colosseum.