It was 11 p.m., April 4, 2003. War was in the air. Nearby residents lived unaware of impending danger, but could not shake the fear. All through the night the war raged on. Is there a link to this place and terror? One cannot ask questions in such an environment. One can only hear the truth when one listen s to the bombs. One went off. Hapless citizens braced for the violence that surrounded them. Was the war just beginning, or had it been going brewing all along?And as I made my way through its lobby to Union Street, I thought to myself: “Man, Plantz Hall sucks.”
I wasn’t planning for Baghdad that night, after I finished watching Field of Dreams, and decided to load my backpack up with Goldfish crackers and join many of my former Lawrentian colleagues for a fun-filled evening of Mario Kart and Jerry Springer. I had spent the week watching Rumsfeld and General Myers, Brokaw and Jennings tell me of the cradle of civilization being reduced to ruins. And what shocked and awed me were the bombs. The sounds, the noise of bombs inundate the cable news viewer, imbedded in the “be a good soldier” mindset that permeates us each second we view these idiot boxes.
But tonight, there would be no war. There would be Mario Kart-and, perhaps, a little old school Mario 3. No warps. Tonight, there would be no war, I thought. There were, however, unknowables.
I crossed College Avenue. I crossed Lawe Street. I stared at the ugliest Residence Hall ever to grace a campus so beautiful, the worst possible memorial to such a wonderful man as President Samuel Plantz. It was cold. I was shivering. Plantz looked cold. It looked, nevertheless, warmer than I felt at the time. I stared at the behemoth full of lit windows behind which hapless lame-os debauched and made the fateful decision to cut through the Plantz lobby.
Out of the Plantz lobby door ran a swarthy-looking kid who moved with the swiftness of an unendowed coward. He ran out and then he ran in and then happened: war came to Appleton. Bang. Shock. Awe.
It’s funny how loud an M80 is if you’re on edge. It echoes, the sound does, from the front steps of President Plantz’s nadir to the Bastille that faces it. It’s funny how loud an M80 can be if you just watched the happiest movie ever, and have frazzled your nerves the week prior.
So I jumped. So sue me. It scared me. I forgot what M80s sounded like (that’s an eight of a stick of dynamite, to the well-adjusted readers amongst you). I stayed true to my anthropology; I stopped, looked ahead of me, darted around, and turned to see what was behind me. Security was locking up Kohler Hall. Seriously, Security, forget Kohler Hall. Watch Plantz Hall.
I stepped back, feeling as if I were in Um Qasr for a fleeting, frightened, confused FOXNEWS moment. So I jumped. So sue me. Two windows were filled with onlookers. They were all the way to the right, or darn close to all the way on the right, on the Ave. side of Plantz, and they were laughing at me and shouted that I was shooting. Jerks. I don’t like them.
So I got up my courage and walked past the casing lining the snow and told the RLA at the desk. He shrugged it off because there was a girl there. I made my way to Union Street. I called security. I told them the casing was there. Nothing happened.
There are many destructive, fun things to do on a college campus. But when a war’s on, don’t throw bombs. And if you do throw bombs, for heaven’s sake, have a reason. Say you’re bringing the war home or something. Say you demand student selection of the Formal Group Housing Committee. Say you support a Palestinian state. But don’t just laugh at me. I mean, you can laugh at me, but not because a bomb scares me. It’s a scary thing.
And so, in my tradition of making exaggerated generalizations from small events, I say now with quite a bit of certainty that Plantz Hall sucks-at least the Northwest corner of it…Nah, the whole thing does.
You guys sully the name of a great president, and waste a perfectly good explosive on a wholly inappropriate arena. Come on! Haven’t you ever heard of Union Hill?!