Hippo City

James Eric Prichard

My misanthropy comes in waves. Sometimes I appreciate friends and believe that strangers have redeeming qualities. At other times, however, I can no longer sustain my na’ve optimism. These spells of disgust usually occur after I see or hear someone being an idiot.For example, earlier this year I heard a girl at Downer explain to her friend who Mitt Romney was. Mitt Romney! Am I asking too much when I expect other students to know who Mitt Romney is? Seriously, let me know if I am off base and should not expect people to, at the very least, look at the headlines of newspapers that they walk past every day.

Maybe during interviews the Admissions staff should ask, “Can you name someone who might be president in a year?” If the applicant cannot, the interviewer can move on to the easier, “Name someone famous,” and accept any answer that is not “Jack Sparrow.”

Another good tactic for filtering prospective students would be to ask them to quote a line from one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, and if they can, to recommend them to Beloit or Carroll. If they recite a line while mimicking Johnny Depp’s accent, recommend them to Ripon.

Speaking of prospies and of sights that reignite my loathing, the other evening at Downer I saw a prospie giving a girl a back rub in A. There isn’t anything wrong with backrubs per se; if you fancy yourself a smooth operator and believe that your relaxing touch will win your way into the object of your desire’s heart and pants, massage away. But to rub a girl’s back while chatting it up with your friends and denying ulterior motives is disingenuous and the height of stupidity. We all know that you are freaking out about feeling her bra strap through her shirt and are having more fun than that time when you stole your mom’s wine coolers, drank them, and threw up on yourself before crying in front of the girl who turned you down for junior prom. Hopefully you can parlay this platonic favor into your first make-out session in three months. We’re all rooting for you.

Moliére wrote a play called “Le Misanthrope” (meaning “The Misanthrope”), and I am pretty sure that it was about Downer. Downer is the one place that will never let you down if you want to see humanity at its worst. Loud, dumb people talking about dumb things, loudly? Check. Obnoxious kids with bad facial hair? Check. Connies? Check. Classroom discussions used to annoy me, but I solved that problem by not going to class. I cannot, however, go on a hunger strike just to avoid stupidity. I tried once, but my religious parents thought that I was fasting and were really proud of me, which was a bit of a blow for this former rebellious 14-year-old. Mom never understands me.

One time at a White Castle I overheard some transients talking about how they would be millionaires if they could create a formula for gravity. Then one of them gave me an “Indian blessing.” Eating at Downer is like this experience, without the surreal charm. You also don’t get a blessing, unless the occasional fortune cookie counts, which I don’t think it should. I have also never seen seduction via massage at a White Castle.

The problem with Downer is that it is too inclusive. They admit anyone who wants in and then let them sit wherever they like, both of which severely hinder my dining experience. They should require essays at the door, and require poor performers to eat upstairs. I’m not saying that anyone is perfect, but even Dante knew well enough to separate the worst offenders from everyone else.