The blank canvas of a six-week winter break can be intimidating for even the most super of seniors, and I found myself quaking with fear at the prospect of a month and a half of pre-winter term dread. Lacking the means to go abroad or the patience to spend time with my family, I decided to spend the break bettering myself and learning the skills that any self-respecting adult should know. Four days deep in a post-Thanksgiving food coma, I emerged, bloated and Christ-like, to begin my journey of sophistication. The previous two decades of my life had been spent eating like a warthog on PCP, but I was determined to eat like the most pretentious of Michelin reviewers when I returned to campus.
Like all Lawrentians with productive goals for winter term, I did nothing for six weeks and made no significant progress in the way of self-improvement.
If I were homebound, my atrocious eating habits would be no problem at all. Nary a person on Earth would observe my shameful practices and I could continue to pretend to be the Very Classy Boy I hope to resemble in job interviews. Unfortunately for the patrons of Andrew Commons, I reside on campus and continue to make a mess of things in the campus center at every meal. Since I am incapable of making positive changes to my behavior, the only solution is to erect a Cubicle of Shame around me in the commons. The cubicle would protect other diners from the horrific sight of my eating habits while simultaneously containing any sauces rendered airborne by my Bacchanal of Tooth and Taste.
My flurry of biting and snorting is not the full extent of my shame, and the cubicle will need to be adjusted accordingly. I also spill food on the floor with alarming frequency and occasionally judge said food to be edible even after making contact with the ground. Naturally, the walls of the cubicle will need to extend all the way to the ground to hide this habit. An eight-foot cubicle wall should do the trick, although I am not opposed to the idea of floor-to-ceiling walls should the opportunity present itself.
When I am not spilling various soups and salads on the floor, I am spilling them on myself. Even if my initial slip of the spoon goes unnoticed by other diners, the resulting stain takes hold of strangers’ attention, humiliating me in front of the Bully Birds and Rude Raccoons of Lawrence’s campus. “Hey Kevin,” my shirt says. “Look at this goober who keeps his soup on his shirt instead of in his mouth like the rest of us! You should call his dad and tell him about his soup fallibility!” If you have trouble envisioning the scenario depicted in my faultless writing, try imagining that your name is Kevin and read the passage again.
The only solution for my perpetual shirt-related embarrassment is a jumpsuit, specifically a jumpsuit designed for use at meals and nowhere else. When I need to eat, I will enter my innocuous eight-foot tall, table-sized cubicle and don my jumpsuit. Unfortunately, this does not solve the problem of my eating habits entirely.
The incessant gnashing and chattering of teeth common to my meals has become a sizable problem for other diners and my self-esteem. To put it simply, there is no restaurant corner removed enough from the rest of the dining area to sufficiently mute the sounds of my chewing and grunting. Although the chic cubicle fuzz is somewhat effective in dampening sound, the walls of my Shame Cubicle will need to be outfitted with specialty noise-cancelling equipment. The collection of psychologists hired by my parents to improve my boyhood eating habits believed that my sound levels were roughly equivalent to those of a howler monkey, but I will settle for equipment fit to handle the slobbering, tomato-faced ravings of Lindsey Graham. This would also give the added benefit of perfecting a soundproof booth design that could be placed around Mr. Graham indefinitely.
Like every new iPhone update, each improvement on my Cubicle of Shame brings with it a new, unpleasant problem that cannot be easily fixed. With all external sound being blocked by the cubicle walls and soundproof equipment, my eardrum-splitting noises will seem much louder than they were before. Chewing at a lower volume is simply not an option. I will need a device that can chew my food for me while producing no sound whatsoever, something like a food processor contained in an unwieldy, noise-cancelling case. The machine could also be strapped to my back with a large, posture-correcting cage to massage two birds with one basalt stone, or whatever phrase PETA approves.
There is just one problem remaining with my horrible eating habits: despite the introduction of new equipment, a new uniform and cubicle walls, I would still be able to see all of the food mistakes common to my typical dining experience. Although this could be solved by a pair of dark, Very Cool Sunglasses, I believe that the best solution would be provided by a cubicle roof to block out any light sources hanging over my table. A cubicle roof would allow me to consume ungodly amounts of food in total darkness, just like the pioneers! The presence of other aforementioned equipment would also make the sudden increase in food accidents a nonissue.
My eating habits have become such a distraction in Andrew Commons that the kind administrators of Lawrence University have informed me that I will be barred from graduating until I learn to eat like an adult. I have given everything I have to this endeavor, but I know now that I will never be able to improve my eating habits at the dinner table. To save my dignity and the stomachs of everyone within a thirty-foot radius, I believe that a Cubicle of Shame should be constructed around my table whenever I eat. If the costs of constructing new cubicles at every meal are prohibitive, I will settle for a single cubicle with retractable wheels that could be transported around campus. Any purchase or expense on campus carried out before the construction of my Cubicle of Shame would be a gross misuse of donor funds and, although I am technically not a lawyer, reasonable grounds for a fifteen-million-dollar lawsuit.