It’s not really communal living, is it? It’s just high-capacity living. I don’t even really know if you can call it “living”. I was 12 when my mother’s friend told me that the best two years of her life were the years she spent living in the dorms at university. I had no reason to doubt her. She lived in a castle.
I asked my aunt if she’d ever been a hippie in the sixties. She said, “I’ve never told anyone this, but in 1968, I found someone’s old basketball jersey in the laundry rooms when I was living in residence. I wore that goddamned thing for two months, and didn’t shave my armpits. That was as close as I ever want to get to being a hippie.”
198o-something, a news story comes out about a midget (or ‘really really short dude’) who was shoved down a rubbish chute in one of the residences. My father said, “Jesus, who would do that?” Turns out it was a bunch of upperclassmen Engineers who thought it would be funny to see if the fellow would fit. All accounts indicated the midget (“really really short dude”) was acquiescent – possibly even encouraging. Of course, now that we have invented terminology and analysis for things like bullying, we understand that there’s a good chance the dude just wanted to have a peer group and was so used to being pushed around because he was different, that he went along with the asinine plan. So, the upperclassmen engineers, who were all soused (from all accounts, everyone in the entire building was three sheets to the wind), stuffed him into the rubbish chute. No one, from all accounts, was sure what the engineers thought would happen when their inebriated patsy dropped several floors and then got wedged inside the chute, but I’m sure none of them assumed it would be a broken neck but not quite instant death. I’m sure none of them assumed he would end up suffocating in the rubbish.
My experiences in residence were certainly not like my mother’s friends. It was most decidedly NOT the best two and a half years of my life. I’m not built to live in that close proximity with so many people. And although it was nice to have food available to me for three squares, I’ve never really been much of a three squares person myself. Plus, the food was, by and large, horrific. I did not find an old basketball jersey in the laundry rooms. I did not live like a bohemian for two months. I never put a midget in the rubbish chute (although I did live in the residence where that happened, for three months).
Imagine my surprise, then, when last night, my co-worker arrived on campus to let me know she was going to use her credit card to pay for my residence fees and my meal plan. We spent some time together getting my photo ID card all done up and finding my horrid little mouse-hole of a room (which, thank God, I didn’t have to share with anyone). Imagine my further surprise when The Actor showed up at the cafeteria.
The Actor and I had a …well, the meal wasn’t lovely, but the company and the conversation was. I mentioned to him that in watching several episodes (two seasons’ worth, in fact) of Quantum Leap with the boys, that I had noted a resemblance between his own self (The Actor’s) and Scott Bakula. It was a resemblance that was most apparent in the episode where Sam Beckett leaped (leapt?) into the body of a private dick, and gambolled around wearing a fedora.
Most of the rest of what happened is lost now, but I’ve been in this residence and cafeteria multiple times in the last few months. The cafeteria isn’t entirely unlike the one at RCMP ‘F’ Division (Depot), and it isn’t entirely unlike Marquis Hall. The rooms aren’t entirely unlike Athabasca Hall, and they’re not entirely unlike Lady Dunn Hall. But they’re still residences. *shudder*
I’m not sure why I keep going back to residence. I should really prefer not to.