A Haystack interview got off to a bad start yesterday when our reporter spent the first three minutes of a Zoom call staring silently at english major Rowan Hillman ‘22 after mistaking Hillman for a paperback book. In fairness to our reporter, Hillman was holding a tattered copy of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and it was difficult to see that his sweater, beard, and almost translucent face were separate from the book’s well-worn cover.
“Literally, right now, I could not tell you where the book ends and this kid begins,” our reporter said, showing us a screenshot of Hillman from the original Zoom interview. “I truly believe if I pulled on his face it would turn to the next page.”
Hillman was not offended by the mistake because he does not categorize events or actions as simply “good” or “bad,” but rather seeks to explore the many possible meanings they offer and the different paths of thought they may be able to take him down. He was also flattered that the book he was confused with was Catcher, which is one of his favorites. “Really, I’d be lying if I said these words weren’t a part of me,” he told us as he brushed his hair back into his eyes because it had accidentally started to look sort of good and normal for a second. “No need to apologize, Salinger’s a true genius. Of course, if you’d mistaken me for something by Melville or Hemmingway, we’d be having a different conversation.” He then laughed in a way that we assume was about as loud as an English major can go. And we laughed too, because we totally understood his point about Millsville and Hemmingsworth, because it’s so obvious and we go to college and we’re smart so we totally get it.
“I’m not a book, I’m a human boy,” Hillman said to us, to fully clear up any confusion. “Though I suppose it’s true that I also have quite a bit to say,” he added cheekily, as he stroked another book he had just picked up.
During his nine-minute Zoom interview, Hillman picked up and physically touched twenty-six different novels. Calculations revealed that if each of the novel’s “changed [his] life” as Hillman claimed, his life has been completely shattered and re-started every 13 days for the last ten years.
While Hillman’s patchy beard and tattered sweater did add to the confusion, our reporter claims that Hillman’s personality added just as much as his appearance. “This guy really does behave like I just took him off a shelf and dusted him off,” our reporter explained. “I feel like if I touch him, he might fall out of his spine”
Hillman spent the last two minutes of the interview speaking only in sonnets, at which point our reporter told him he really would rather hang out with a paperback book, and Hillman said that our reporter’s discomfort with rhyming verse was fascinating, and asked him about his relationship with his mother. Hillman then pointed out that in the process of yelling at him, our reporter had drawn an enormous penis on his own face. “There’s something a little bit phallic about that shape,” Hillman said of the drawing. “Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.” He then snapped his fingers and a cup of tea appeared in his hand, which he sipped from calmly as our reporter frantically said something about how sometimes there’s no deeper symbolism and a giant drawing of a cock on your face is nothing more than that, a simple drawing.
Further research revealed that Hillman’s biological father was actually a used copy of Gulliver’s Travels that was stained yellow from being left out in the rain. Three of his uncles are sweaters, and his sister is an acoustic guitar. His mom works at McKinsey (let’s not get crazy here).
At the end of the scheduled interview, Hillman had to leave abruptly, as he had a 44- page paper due six days ago and didn’t want to disappoint the professor by being an extra day late. “If you’re more than a week late with your papers, she sometimes becomes slightly annoyed,” he said of his professor, who he claims is “one of the toughest in the department.” Hillman wanted to make sure he didn’t strain the relationship, because so far he has only been invited to stay at the professor’s house for one weekend, and all his classmates are much closer with her than that.