The-Day-That-Must-Not-Be-Named (graduation day, there, I said it) looms ominously on the horizon and many of us are quickly traveling toward it. Some of us have plans while some of us (including myself) have nothing but debt.
I walked onto the campus of Binghamton University almost four years ago as a wide-eyed freshman proud to be a student at “The Premier Public University in the Northeast.” I had heard about the infamous Rathskeller, and assumed it would be glorious. I thought fraternities were the best place to party and that the city of Binghamton was “quaint.”
I’m walking away from this school with a newfound cynicism, a drinking problem and a burning hatred for cloud cover and bathroom lines. I’ve been nearly mugged more times than I’d like to admit to my parents and I’ve acquired a few extra pounds that are entirely thanks to Mug Night at Tom and Marty’s and the wings at the Belmar.
It’s fair to say that many graduating seniors experience the love/hate relationship that is student life here at BU. It’s hard to ignore the downsides of this town, a place that could be the perfect backdrop for a post-apocalyptic zombie movie.
But it’s nearly impossible to hate this place entirely, this pseudo-reality where a beer costs you $2.50 and on most nights an ex-Playboy playmate makes out with freshmen at Flashbacks.
This place was the opposite of what I expected it to be, and I both love and hate that. It wasn’t until this final semester that I really understood what I had learned during my four years here, and the knowledge I have amassed isn’t exactly what they advertise in the brochures for the Public Ivy …
Firstly, bar knowledge. The Rat isn’t the oasis freshmen dream of, it’s just the bar that lets the most underage people in. If you drop something on the floor of The Rat, you leave it there. Tom and Marty’s on the weekend is going to be a sardine can until after 2 a.m., at which point most of the young ones clear out and the usual older crowd settles in.
Any liquid on the floor of the bar or surrounding areas is always considered questionable and can be anything from urine to sperm. The bartenders at Dillinger’s will ignore you. I watched somebody have sex on the couch at Paradigm, so don’t ever sit down.
Second, this town is a shithole. Literally. I would never send my kid to this school for fear of this place. The townsfolk scare me. I’ve had things shouted at me while walking around that can’t be put in print and I’ve seen some things on my walk Downtown that made me want to pour bleach in my eyes.
Sure, the nice areas are up in the hill where the normal people build fortresses to shield themselves in case the creatures north of Main Street ever decide to attack, but most of this city is little more than an endless horror movie. The hills have eyes.
Third, by the end of your senior year, you are too old for this shit. I spent the last two weeks complaining about how cold it was when we were forced to trek Downtown in 30-degree weather, and I always ended up rounding the corner at State Street and seeing a wall of scantily clad freshmen and sophomores. I’ve been wearing long sleeves, two pairs of tights and gloves every night it’s been cold since October.
I have no idea how I wore less clothes as a freshman. My hangovers last longer than they used to, and my patience for standing in line for the bathroom has worn so thin it’s transparent. I feel like I should be carrying a cane when I walk Downtown.
Last, you haven’t done something unless you put it online. Everything I do in the world I have to display on three different social media outlets. Are you going to Spring Fling? You better update your Facebook status, make Spring Fling a hashtag on Twitter and take a picture of cotton candy at an odd angle, change the filter and upload it to Instagram.
Half of college is spent updating people on what you’re doing, checking in at Tom and Marty’s and tagging that picture of yourself photo-bombing two people sucking face at The Rat. Even as “adults” we feel the need to display our every move online in some sort of social dick-measuring contest. You’re only cool if you have more than 1,000 Facebook friends.
And that’s really it, Bingers. I spent four years here eating Mediterranean Gyro and collecting JT’s and Tom and Marty’s mugs. This place is our place, our little hole in the mountain, a town that’s half dead with a partying heart beating furiously at its center. I love/hate this place, and I love/hate the people who go here. It’s hard not to feel that way.
Call Hermione Granger, because I need her time turner. I’d like to start it all over again.