The Sloth is not, as it may appear at first blush, an apathetic new final club. It is in fact a storytelling initiative based on the national success of the Moth, a similarly named and structured event founded in 1997 that spawned a weekly podcast, public radio show, and book collection. Sloth attendees gather in the Barker Center, splay out across plush chairs and couches, and listen to their peers recount true short stories from their lives that all center around a weekly theme.
At the Sloth’s Senior Night, the theme is “lessons learned.” The Barker Center’s Thompson Room lends a casual feel to the proceedings. A hat rests by the door as I enter, and I’m instructed to write my name down on a slip of paper and drop it inside if I wish to share a story. A few years under the cut off for this event, I am resigned to just listen and park myself in the front row.
The Thompson Room quickly fills with the buzz of excited chatter under the stern portraits and strange statues that line the walls. The audience seems to be made up of groups of friends, many of whom are here to cheer for the storyteller in their midst.
Senior Night emcee Jackie R. Schechter ’15 picks a name from the hat, and David R. Grieder ’15 gets us off to a knee-slapping start. He recounts the freshman year antics between himself and his neighbor Kramer (the fortuitousness of his neighbor’s name is lost on none of us, least of all Grieder). Facebook hacks flew back and forth as they raced to embarrass each other online in front of romantic interests. The lesson learned? Close your computer on your way out.
Some of the presentations are polished and prepared performances, but some are off the cuff, as people are talked last minute into submitting their names. Evan B. Weiner ’15 gets off to a rocky start with a story about his travels to India, but in the end, like all the storytellers, he manages to spin the threads together into a moving piece that advocates going outside your comfort zone in order to grow.
While some of the stories strive for wisdom, the majority are tales of daring pigheadedness and relatable stupidity. The crowd is quick with the correct responses, whether it’s raucous laughter, moans of sympathy, or understanding head-bobbing snaps. Scott Y. Zhuge ’15 recounts learning to cook for the first time—we discover that if you try to emulate Chipotle, you might end up with a sodium deficiency. Another senior takes us to the Alps, where we’re chased by vicious sheep dogs—they are evidently an “important” part of Alpine heritage. The final story of the night teaches us the valuable lesson of not applying deodorant while driving—you may crash into a granite mailbox and total your car a block away from your house.
After about an hour, with a handful of names left scattered inside the hat, the Sloth is forced to call it a night. Although the seniors told their stories at a microphone, it felt more like they were clustered in a common room, sharing them with a group of close friends. I look forward to returning, next time with a story of my own to tell.