David sat quietly under the pong table in Mark’s common room, his arms wrapped around crossed legs. Rules stipulate that if a player on the losing team does not make a single cup, they become a “troll,” trapped under the table for the entirety of the next game. David had not made a single cup. Fortunately his partner had sunk a few cups, or he would have been running a naked lap around Winthrop House. The room’s beer-soaked wood floors pulsed under the throaty rhymes of Ja Rule. It was a Thursday night during final exams, and the boys of Fifteen Minutes—mostly former editors with a few current editors, collectively known as the FM bros—had gathered one final time before graduation.
When two guys discovered foils in the corner of the room and began fencing, I glanced at my watch. It was nearing midnight: clearly time to wrap up this shindig. The night didn’t show much promise. There was senior bar, which the young ones weren’t too enthused about. There were other bars in the Square, which the young ones weren’t too enthused about. And that was really about it.
“Why don’t we just go back to Tufts?” I joked. Everyone laughed.
A couple had been to Tufts before. It wasn’t the most successful trip. We had a limited number of contacts up at Davis Square and weren’t even sure if the school was still in session. But the beer supply in Winthrop was running low, the fencing match had grown hostile, and Ja Rule only has so many memorable hits.
“Seriously, there’s not much else going on,” I said. “Let’s go.”
Reactions were mixed. Some made excuses: exams the next morning, impatient lovers waiting in bed. But others gulped rum shots and prepared road sodas, excited for their return to Medford. Ultimately, four of us—Mark, Alex, Charleton, and I—committed to the trip. Certain that the T had already closed for the night, we hailed a cab on Dunster Street.
“To Tufts,” we told the driver.
He dropped us off somewhere in the middle of campus, no one was quite sure where. We asked a few kids passing by on skateboards if anything was going on that night, but they didn’t want to share. Dance music emanated from a brick house down the road, and we walked toward it. The kids smoking outside wouldn’t let us in, until we identified a mutual friend. It was a frat, with overstuffed leather couches, framed portraits of members on the wall, three enormous pong tables, and a glossy mounted flat screen. Not a terribly foreign environment. We claimed a spot on one of the tables and started to mingle. We drank Natty Light and slapped the bag. We searched the top floor of the frat for more Natty Light and ran out of the building when a brother found us.
Soon enough, we found ourselves in the fourth-floor lounge of a freshman dorm. Some students yelled at us to be quiet, it was after 2 a.m. One freshman invited us to his room to chat. We told him we went to Babson, and, without explanation, he gave us his political philosophy texts. He told us the night was likely over at Tufts, and we should probably head out. We hunted down a cab, Hobbes’ “Leviathan” and Mill’s “Utilitarianism” in hand, and asked the driver to take us to Church Street, to the Market.
The night at Tufts didn’t reassure me of Harvard’s social superiority, or make me lament not going to a fun school. It reminded me that at college, any college, we do a lot of stupid things. They’re generally harmless, but usually very stupid. Cutting your face on the rhododendron you’re urinating on. Stealing whiskey at a party. Hiding from Tufts RAs in a closet. Breaking and entering. Waking up in the Advocate the next morning. Writing and publishing this piece. In college, we get away with these things, things that may not be tolerated in the real world. But in college, these nights become stories, legends. Even parents can laugh at weekend tales. Boys will be boys, they say. Well guys, I don’t think we’re boys anymore.
D. Patrick Knoth ’11, a former Crimson magazine chair, is a history and literature concentrator in Dunster House.