Thursday, May 29, 2008

Senior Banquet

Walking down the stairs to dinner tonight, I had, of all things, the "Ribbon Dancer" jingle stuck in my head. Ribbon dancer was some toy marketed towards elementary school girls which ran a ton of advertisements when I was a kid. I never had one, and I don't think I ever knew anyone who had one, but still, there was the song. I found it amusing that -- in spite of being normally incredibly forgetful, I could remember a totally random ad jingle from the 1990s with perfect clarity.

I got to the bottom of the stairs, and observed there was an event in the Great Hall. That happens rather constantly at the end of the year, so I didn't think any more of it, until I entered the dining hall and discovered that half of it was closed for the event. I asked off-hand what was going on, and someone said "I think it's the senior banquet."

To which I, a graduating senior, replied: "God, I hope not."

I rushed upstairs and sure enough, it was senior banquet. I didn't know what to do. Everyone was dressed up, I was in a t-shirt and shorts. Everyone had a name tag, I had, obviously none. It seems ridiculous, but I sort of panicked -- I assumed I'd miss the whole thing -- a really important element of senior year, and I blew it.

And then, two old friends of mine -- one from my pre-frosh trip, one from my freshman floor -- saw me. Both demanded I attend. I demurred. I was late, I wasn't dressed, I had no name tag, and the hall was already packed. They said if I RSVP'd, the name tags should be downstairs, and that I might be able to sneak in and grab a seat if I was lucky anyway. And then they reiterated that I had to attend -- that my presence was missed by my friends.

I ran upstairs and put on a golf shirt, then down six flights of stairs to check to see if I had a nametag. I had forgotten if I had RSVP'd, then forgotten about it, or forgotten to RSVP altogether. It was the latter -- no name tag for me. Oh well. I wandered into the Hall, and found a table filled with my old freshman floormates, a gang that remains very close even today.

And then, something funny happened. I still expressed awkwardness that I had no nametag. So, impulsively, my friend Lauren peeled hers off and gave it to me, and shooed me over to the food line. After I ate, Mandy came over and, seeing that I was not, in fact Lauren (nametag notwithstanding), she gave me her nametag. Then Mikaela followed suit. At that point, people started noticing, and as the event broke up and people started saying goodbye, more and more started giving me their nametags. My freshman year roommate did, as did a friend of mine who I've known since pre-school, and two people who I don't think I had ever actually met before. In all, I am now currently wearing 12 nametags -- all which were a simple but incredibly touching testament to the kindness and friendship I've experienced from the Carleton community, and so many individual Carls, for all four years I've been here.

You are all such wonderful people. Thank you.

I met a girl who kept tattoos for homes
That she had loved
If I were her I'd paint my body
'til all my skin was gone....

1 comment:

schiller1979 said...

Thanks for that story. I've been gone from Carleton long enough to be planning a 30th reunion next year. When I go back for alumni meetings, I'm more and more convinced that Carleton people have not changed much over the course of several generations. (And, yes, I mean that in a good way.) It brought a little tear to my eyes, thinking back on leaving the people with whom I had been at Carleton, back in 1979.