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Pushing the envelope

Mary Kate Malone | Thursday, April 13, 2006

I’ve been told, on multiple occasions, that a mouse is more intimidating than me.

I’m not sure whether that’s a compliment or a character flaw but perhaps it explains my strong need to seem like a rule-breaking rebel. On occasion, I’ll decide to stop being goody-goody MK and push the envelope. You know, show people that I can break rules and get away with it.

Not surprisingly, I generally fail at doing this. But hey, at least I try.

Case in point:

A few weeks ago my roommate’s sister, Meg, was visiting Notre Dame. We were all going to dinner on a Thursday night and decided it was ridiculous to make Meg, who had no ID card, pay $10 for her meal. Inspired to take charge and solve the problem, I told Meg to use my ID and I would sneak in.

“No one will catch me, I promise,” I said. “Come on you guys, I can totally do it without getting caught. I’m good at this kind of thing, okay?”

I convinced everyone easily (though I’m not sure how).

We walked to North Dining Hall planning our scheme. I’d walk in with a crowd and bury myself inside it. Then I’d stealthily sneak into the back room before anyone could notice. When we arrived, I hustled in behind my friends, avoiding eye contact with the food service worker. My friends swept up behind me and we scurried into the back hot food area. Pride swept over me. I did it! I broke the rules and got away with it!

Suddenly, a firm hand grabbed my arm. “HEY! HEY YOU! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING? YOU DIDN’T SWIPE YOUR CARD!” The food service woman I thought I had so stealthily deceived was loudly scolding me in front of what felt like the entire student body. My “bad-ass-ness” was crumbling. I panicked and starting lying.

“I’m so sorry!” I said. “I forgot my I.D. card and didn’t want to go back to my dorm! I’ll leave right now. I’m sorry! It won’t happen again!”

I wasn’t intimidating. I wasn’t rebellious. So I walked to the other end of North with my head hung low, and paid $10 for my meal.

You think that would have taught me a lesson. It didn’t.

Tuesday night my section in Farley had a “mandatory” section meeting. I’m not sure why, but I decided I wasn’t going to go. Mandatory, schmandatory. So I went to Recker’s instead. No big deal, right? Wrong.

I think I talked about skipping the meeting more than anything else all night. I stared at the clock, worried. What if they kick me out of Farley? What if I move to the bottom of room picks? What if my roommates don’t cover for me?

I never got in trouble but my own guilt was enough to convince me that I’ve got a long way to go before I prove my fearlessness to the world.

Okay, so maybe it’s taken 20 years to realize I’m not an intimidating, rule-breaking rebel.

But practice makes perfect.