When she hit that stanky leg, I knew I was ruined.
It wasn’t enough for her to slowly shake her head through every humiliating, stuttering minute it took for me to read out my tutorial paper at our last meeting for HIST 456: Soups Of The Ancient World. It wasn’t enough to take an unnecessarily deep breath before reciting from memory her eleven page rebuttal and tearing me a fucking new one. It wasn’t even enough for her to email me a PDF of my paper with a big red C- scribbled on top in digital pen, then also print out multiple copies of said PDF to place in my SU box, under my door, and in the mail to my parents in an envelope labeled “Disappointment.”
No, my humiliation could not be contained by Hollander Lounge 101. It had to be irrevocable, categorical. A degradation to go down in history.
Hoxsey Halloween, 2023. I was feeling pretty good in my Scooby Doo jumpsuit, busting it down, throwing a little woah in here and there, just some basic moves. People were nodding at me. Life was good. Little did I know that the seeds of disaster had already been sewn, and bring in the goddamn tractors, because the harvest had come.
“Sick costume, Ev!”
“Loving the fit!”
“Oh shit, looks like trouble’s here!”
The welcoming cries of my peers were the first sign of danger. What kind of too-cool-for-school city slicker could possibly have just walked through that door?
This kind: Evelyn Milford ‘24, her business casual cardigan traded out for sleek black spandex, her layerless, practical bob all greased back, like Neo from The Matrix, or a seventh grade boy at a school dance, except sexy and totally zit-free.
“Gasolina” boomed through the AUX. The crowd went wild. Evelyn spotted me across the room, pushed her shades up her nose, and gave me one of those cool little nods that only goes up, not down again. Then, an econ major dressed as Pickle Rick in 2023 grabbed her hand – my nemesis, my tormentor, the genesis of my defeat – and pulled her into the place of honor, the Holy Grail itself: the center of the impromptu basement dance circle.
A 360 running man. A perfectly timed pop and lock. A worm of devastating smoothness and skill.
I tried throwing in a little dougie of my own, but I was elbowed out of the way by a guy in a giant banana onesie, who was streaming Evelyn’s sick-ass moves to TikTok, where they had already amassed eight million views, multiple brand deals, and the praise of several warring world leaders, to whom peace had now been singlehandedly delivered by the speed and artistry of Evelyn’s flossing.
The moves she busted busted my soul. Her boogie was a loogie in the face of my dignity. She macarena-ed her way through my pride, my self-esteem, and even my will to live.
“I think you need to consider not what the soups of ancient history mean to you, but what they mean to the world,” explained Evelyn, crankin’ that Soulja Boy right at me.
Banana Onesie’s phone rang. It was Biden. World hunger had been solved.
My annihilation was complete. There was clearly nothing else for it — I must never set foot in Hollander Lounge 101, the impromptu basement dance circle, or the hallowed halls of Williams College again.
Evelyn Milford didn’t just teach me (teach me, teach me) how to dougie. She taught me that the self is a lie, the ego an illusion, our faith in the substance of our lives a cruel joke told by a heartless god, signifying nothing.
I am become a wanderer of the Earth. I am nobody. I am nothing.
“Competent, yet intellectually stale. Maybe stop by the Writing Center next time.”