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Agreeing with Shirley

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, February 24, 2006

I couldn’t really even stand up to a seal, I don’t really deserve a medal or a party!

I bet you’re wondering what kind of column would follow a statement like that. But why keep you in suspense? I’ll just come right out and tell you – one that has nothing to do with the opening line.

Now that I have you hooked, you have no choice but to continue reading.

Last night was pancake night at South Dining Hall. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to experience such a miracle, take my word for it when I tell you that it is a night not to be missed.

However, the delicious pancakes, scrambled eggs, and tater tots (thank you, dining hall cooks) that I feasted upon are not what stick out in my mind about my dinner last night.

As I started applying syrup to my flapjacks, a dining hall employee, whom I shall call Shirley, asked me what year I was in.

“I’m a freshman,” I told her.

“How do you like it here? … What is your major? … Psychology? I have a daughter who has two master’s degrees in psychology. I like psychologists, but not psychiatrists; sometimes people do need medication, but a lot of the time they’ve got them drugged up like zombies …”

Shirley told me I’m blessed to be here, and wanted me to work hard and never give up.

She is right – I am blessed to be here.

Settle down, gentle reader, this column isn’t becoming a Lifetime movie. To be honest, there are definitely days when I don’t want to be here and would much rather be home working at Pizza Hut by day, wasting time with friends by night.

Blasphemer! Burn him! Hang him! Rip his face off! Notre Dame is the single greatest thing to happen to mankind since the Resurrection!

Again, settle down, gentle reader – there are also times when I couldn’t imagine wishing to be anywhere else.

Notre Dame is often idealized. I’ve heard it described by an alum and distant relative as being more of a “lifestyle,” rather than a school. Chuckles of affirmation rippled through the room.

Sure, there are nights when students are putting off their studies to drink Natty Lights and play video game rugby deep into the night; when it reaches 30 degrees, shorts are donned and the footballs come out; dorm parties are thumpin’ till dawn … errr … make that parietals.

People on the outside or who are far removed from their schooling here only see those things. It’s almost an inversion of the Notre Dame bubble.

When all is said and done, though, I agree with Shirley. I’m glad I’m here.