Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Old College Cry

Man, college traditions really bring me back.

Very few college memories elicit genuine reminiscing on my part. There was that time freshman year that my floormates and I broke into the Barnard Dining Hall, as only a group of overweight, girl-college 18 year olds could, and ran back into our room cradling bagels, croissants, and an assortment of nearly-stale pastries that tasted delicious to us, not only because they were free, but because they were dangerous.

Typical late night snacking.

Then there was my college improv group, Six Milks. Once Columbia's oldest improv troupe, Six Milks is now dead to the world because "some kids" -- read: my younger friends -- decided they wanted to shake things up and kill off some campus legacy, and rename the group "Fruit Paunch". (And really, of all the names.) I've chosen "not to get angry about this" (note: quotations denote huge lies) because, well hey, it's college improv right? But be sure of this: Our group did not take improv seriously at all (because something about it reeks of Carrot Top minus the funny props and hot boddy.) We just acted like fucking idiots. We once travelled to Harvard for an "Improv Festival" (commence Purell bath), where half of the members of my group were drunk, the other half stoned, and we ended nearly every scene with the phrase "Suck my dick." Of course, we slaughtered.

Us in all our exhausted glory.

The highlight of the year was our 24 Hours Show, where we performed on the lawn in front of Low Library (and if you've seen Spiderman 1 or 2, you are familiar with this lawn) for 24 straight hours, taking sleeping shifts in small tents, and cramming our faces with every carb found in a 2 mile radius. The hours from 3 to 8 am were filled with mindless chatter. One guy would read from the Dennis Rodman biography for an hour or so (sample quote, on fucking Madonna: "You could tell she liked it because she was into it.") Someone else would sit alone, hosting a baseball radio show that none of us were awake to hear, except for this dude "Pete" who was our biggest fan and camped with us. Needless to say, at the end of this 24 hour comedy-genius-a-thon, I would fall to my knees in front of 100 or so people lucky enough to witness madness at its finest, hold my hands in the air, and start hysterically bawling. (This really did happen once.)

Where was I? Ah, yes, fond memories.

One of the fondest/most exhausting memories was being a writer for the Columbia University Varsity Show, the school's oldest tradition, right after gang-raping slaves. The show began as a way to raise money for the crew team, and involved men dressing up in drag, dancing out onto the stage arm in arm, and throwing a couple of high kicks out for good measure. (Remember, this was before the days of tucking.) As the years wore on, the show turned into more of a musical extravaganza (if I may), and some of the early writers included Rodgers, Hammerstein, I.A.L. Diamond, Hart, Tony Kushner, and Terrence McNally.

The highlight of our show? The football teams choreographed dance number to "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips.

The main purpose of the show is to poke fun at campus life: Rich kids, gentrification, professors, the Engineering students being stupid/Asian, Barnard Girls being huge sluts/lesbians/Orthodox Jews/stupid. It's a tried and true tradition. The earliest video I saw was a show from 1984, which had about 7 cast members, and was performed in front of a black curtain. The year I wrote it, along with 3 guys, in 2002, the budget had ballooned to over a year's tuition at the school. This meant that our set looked like something out of a real Broadway show, our costumes were very "authentic college student-y", we ate a lot of pizza, and we could even afford a monkey costume and LIVE CHICKEN. (NO NEED TO THANK ME, AMERICA.) There's a funny campus paper article about all of this garbage here. Yes, I just linked to a college newspaper article that I'm quoted in.

I'm gonna stop right here and say that I had no intention of blogging my glory years back in college today. I actually just meant to tell a story about something that happened when I went back to see the show on Saturday night. What was meant to be a brief history has turned into a re-re yearbook salutation belonging to an aborted youth. I am so sorry about this.


Every year, all the alums still kickin' make their way up to Morningside for a nice little pre-show reception, where a past V-Show alum is honored, and then gets to stick around for the show. This year's honoree was none other than castratto-crooner Art Garfunkel, who arrived with his family -- including a son sporting an enviable strawberry colored afro -- and looked almost nothing like the Krusty-image of him emblazoned in my mind.

What'd I tell ya.

He gave the perfect acceptance speech, short and funny, which allowed me to make my rounds and talk to the same people I talk to nearly every day, only this time we were eating beef wellingtons and the white wine was free. Coverage of the event, for those of you interested (I'm looking at you, Paul Simon), can be found here.

The show itself was good: A little long, but luckily the talent of the cast (now somewhere around 20 people) was good enough to keep me interested. It had blossomed to a level of professionalism I, quite frankly, found threatening.

Also it was directed by Stanely Kubrick, from the grave.

ALERT: This is the story I wanted to share. I am already incredibly bored with myself.

During the intermission, Lang and I made a quick ladies room break and decided we were thirsty. I had remembered there being some vending machines in this random room in the student center that used to have an air hockey table. So we moseyed our way over, opened the door, and walked into what seemed to be another little soiree: About 40 or so people, and some card tables with CD's and t-shirts on them.

But then: Jackpot. A table full of Poland Springs and sodas. Now, while Lang may be as petite and precious as a newborn foal, my height, on the other hand, prevents me from doing any sort of "sneaking", unless I put on a long trench coat and pretend I am a child resting on the shoulders of a large man. But I make up for it in wheelbarrows of charm. So I smile, Lang smiles, we both sliiiiiide our way up to the table. We gingerly grab our waters, slowly put them behind our backs, and begin to make our exit.

It is then that I see the sign taped to the table, informing me of what this little get together was all about. The sign says, and trust me, I wish I was kidding: "Orphanage Fundraiser."


I couldn't breathe air. It was too late now, we couldn't put the water back. And the worst part -- they left the price tag on the top. 99 cents. Stealing 99 cents from a Columbia Fundraiser was no big deal. Stealing 99 cents from the dirt-encrusted hands of a parentless disease-carrier was a different story altogether.

Please, meese, wontcheh spare a foldable coin for our patch colleyction?

But we did it. And you know what? Best water I've ever tasted. Thank you God, for letting me taste the cool, crisp, breezy liquid that runs through the rivers of Warsaw, New Jersey, and also for letting me grow up in a home... a real home. I am so sorry I betrayed you.

As a thank you for getting through this nonsense, I bring you the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics. Have I mentioned I'm college educated?

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