My most vivid memory of freshman week is sitting at IHOP, sometime after midnight, picking at an overpriced bowl of fruit while the group of other freshmen I had just met ate pancakes. A first college lesson: There is no good reason to order a fruit bowl at IHOP.
Senior week turned out to be similarly educational. Surprising Lesson 1: Friends reluctant to spend $3.40 for round trip T-fare to go into Boston will think it’s a great idea to drop $30 on a ticket to a “Moonlight Cruise” that amounts to circling Boston Harbor in the rain on a three-story boat with several cash bars and not a dinghy in sight. I recognized the quirkiness of my own value system, as buying said ticket seemed much more reasonable—the cruise turned out to be my favorite Senior Week event—than to waste $5.95 on that fruit bowl.
There was a rumor that the price of our tickets covered personalized, embossed life preservers. This wasn’t true. Which leads me to Profound Lesson 2: There’s no such thing as a free life preserver, and if there were, it wouldn’t come with your name stitched in gold thread.
As of press time, I haven’t been raptured. If you’re reading this, I guess you haven’t been either. It’s been nice having Senior Week coincide with the latest apocalypse, which brings to mind several similarities between Senior Week and the End of Days.
Doomsday-related Lesson 3: The moment just before saying goodbye seems like an excellent time to share your secret opinions of people, but it probably isn’t. With respect to the Rapture, telling someone what you really think of him the day before he’s scheduled to be beamed up to heaven has consequences when he—and everyone else—is left behind. Similarly, it’s risky to be unnecessarily frank with your fellow soon-to-be graduates, even those you’ve barely seen since freshman year. Your normal once-a-month head nod routine ramps up to running into each other at every single Senior Week event, now that you’re both trying to squeeze in as much fun as possible before it’s all over.
End Times Analogy Lesson 4: Wild expectations lead to strange economies. In the same way that atheists start post-rapture pet care companies—for Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, 10-year protection costs only $135 with a surcharge of $20 for each additional pet, including llamas and horses in some states—2011-talk morphed into a bizarre electronic bazaar as seniors tried to buy Last Chance Dance tickets for more than double the original price and sell Casino Night Tickets for a 67 percent discount and free delivery. I couldn’t sell mine, and in retrospect, I wonder if offering to return library books in the event of Armageddon could have sweetened the bargain.
Lesson 5: More of a reminder, but my classmates are really talented. I didn’t stop laughing or smiling throughout the entire senior talent show, because I was so, so happy to be so impressed by my classmates. If the people who warned everyone about the Rapture have actually disappeared on Saturday, I bet I would really appreciate them, too.
Most profound of all, Lesson 6: Contemplating change changes ourselves. Senior Week, with its promise of last chances, brings people out of the libraries and explodes with the desperate energy of a thousand pent-up HarvardFML posts. It turns cynics into joyous joiners. The massive advertising campaign—including a billboard in Somerville and vans driving through Harvard Square, advertising the catastrophes that were supposed to begin on Saturday—probably won at least a few converts. Surely it inspired reflection, just like Senior Week socializing compels us to confront our dwindling time together.
Lucky for us, assuming it’s Class Day and the cataclysmic events foretold have not come to pass, we still have a day or two. Enjoy!