Saturday, October 28, 2006

Strange Rumblings on Chauncey Hill

Having gotten up too late to make my own coffee, and run out of milk, I was forced this morning to bike along State St. to the fork opposite Chauncey Hill, to pick up some milk, and a morning mocha. As I emerged on Grant Street, near the University Bookstore crossing, I stumbled upon the first of several strange sights. A Saturday morning on October is when you’d expect to see, well, commuters who have to commute on Saturday, the dudes who run stores and stuff, ghissu-type students hurrying off to their respective labs, and those fitness freaks who jog about all over the place wearing spandex-like tight shorts, whatever the weather (this last group is one to watch out for if female). What you don’t expect to see is a set of guys dressed up as an umpire, a priest and an anthropomorphic cup. Make that a drunken anthropomorphic cup.


I mean, it is Halloween, but that’s like a nighttime gig. The spirit of the festival or whatever would have to be one of those dark B-movie gods, planning to infect entire populations so as to gather its essence from the fevered worship of their tarnished souls and virgin sacrifices or something. Proceeding along State St. brought further such surprises. I encountered a Pope, a vampire, a ballot box of some sort, and a kissing both charging 50¢ per kiss (Given the guy who wore it, it was a very, very hard sell). Girls were a little better to look at – a bewitching witch, a nurse (whose ministrations looked eternally welcome), a clown of some sort, and a pirate captain in miniskirts. All of them, by the way, gathered around the bar areas. All of them squealing and shrieking and cheering. For a second, I let the sounds wash through my cranium and then understand the true meaning of “Wine, women and song” that the Prodigal Son had had such a predilection for. All this, while a must-see for us Indian engineering grad students whose formative years have been wasted in the madrassa of a tutoring class, was nevertheless quite mystifying.

I gathered the essence of what was happening at the coffee shop. Purdue was due to take on Penn State later in the day, and in honor/anticipation of the match, the tradition of the “Breakfast Club” had kicked in. The bars of State St would open as early as 7.00 am, and people would actually drag themselves out of bed – or I suppose proceed to the bar from wherever else they had been partying, and start a raucous booze party. In costume. In the morning. With girls. My children are NOT NOT NOT going to do their undergraduate degrees in India.

Returning, I see more people come out, now proceeding towards the stadium. Particularly amusing was a gang of four girls holding up a fifth, who had the expression one of those concussion victims have when you hold a finger in front of them and ask how many they see.

Also visible are a set of ladies and gents, of above 40, cheering for either University and also processing to the stadium, emerging from bars. Depending on your viewpoint, this is marvelous, marvelously pathetic, or both.

The morning was marked with joy and celebration – Purdue lost miserably though. The evening will be marked more so. There will be costume balls and Halloween parties. More slutty nurses, kinky pirates and catwomen and vampy vampires. More color, costumes, drinking and possibly birds-and-beesing.

I have homework. I have no costume. I am not an undergraduate, nor a member of a student frat. I am damned. Damned. Damned. Damned. Like those characters who wear thick glasses and shut themselves in rooms, and turn out to be axe-killers. And to make matters worse, my assignment sheet has typos in it, so I wont be able to do all of it now – just enough to keep me away from the fun. Play tragic organ music.