The Off-Campus Dinner

This post is by the Honest College intern Evan Katz (Rhodes College) 

After spending every night of the past three months in a college dorm, I recently had the opportunity to eat dinner at a local friend’s house with her parents. To be honest, I was blown away by how much I’d forgotten about off-campus living.

For starters, all inhabitants were entirely clothed, a lifestyle choice that, for better or worse, just hasn’t caught on yet in my dorm. We also ate a meal using actual eating utensils, which at this point seems a bit overkill (why buy a fork when pencil chopsticks are just as effective?)

What struck me the most, however, was how clean the house was. I don’t mean this in a “lack of clutter” sense, but in more of “lack of cockroaches” sense. Literally, I was able to walk from the kitchen to the dining room without having my shoes stick to the floor – not once! 

I’ve gotten so used to this sensation while in college that at first it was a bit difficult to balance without any familiar goo to fasten my feet to the ground. I’ve actually grown fond of the mystery adhesive on the tile floor of our dorm because, now that there’s a real incentive, nobody gives me funny looks anymore for playing the “lava game” as I make the (impressive) leap from our carpet to my bed.

The strangeness of my visit didn’t stop there, I’m afraid. I happened to take a peek into the fridge, still operating on the commonly-accepted college principle of “You have allowed me into your living quarters, therefore I have unrestricted access to all your food/DVDs/significant others.” The fridge, while at first overwhelming with its sheer volume of contents, quickly became puzzling – where was all the soda?

It’s common sense that the primary use of any cooling apparatus is to chill mixers, but this fridge seemed only to contain a minimal amount of soy milk. I quickly rationalized this, however, when I realized that there must be an even bigger fridge somewhere that’s filled entirely with vanilla coke. I can’t help but mention that I was also a little unsettled by the lack of spilled and congealed food on the fridge shelves, my only plausible solution being the fact that they had a dog.

After entertaining my hosts by explaining the rules of a new full-contact sport that my friends and I recently invented at our Passover Seder named “Matzo Ball”, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. On a decorative note, the bathroom walls were really failing to hit the quota for drawings of male genitalia.

Normally I’d charge for these things, but it really was nice of them to invite me over so I Sharpied in a few free of cost. As for the rest of my bathroom experience, I have to admit that it was a bit disappointing in light of what I’m used to. I was able to stand directly in front of the toilet instead of striking the acrobatic pose I normally use to avoid standing in the large puddle on our floor, which frankly took all the fun out of peeing. My aim did increase from 75% to at least a 90%, however. Washing my hands was also a bit lackluster since a hand-towel was right there, making me feel a little foolish doing my usual “shake and dry” post-wash dance (I did it anyway.)

As my visit neared to a close, an unsettling thought crept out from the corner of my mind – what if this was how one was supposed to live? As much as I hate to say it, there’s something about washing your bed sheets more than once a semester that just seems, I don’t know, refreshing?

As I drove back to campus, I realized that visiting my friend’s house had provoked a multitude of similar unnerving thoughts. Opening my dorm door, however, to my boxer-clad roommate eating tuna fish from a large shot glass really helped to put things back into perspective – this is how things are supposed to be.

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