South Lodge: A review
Ella Wisniewski | Wednesday, March 3, 2021
To walk through the doors of South Lodge is to enter a country club that has been built inside of an abandoned warehouse. A parallel universe where mahogany is king. A benevolent behemoth draped in the trappings of nostalgia and comfort. These are among the different lines I wrote to begin this column and yet none of them do justice to the lodge, which, much to my chagrin, is inclined to elude even the most careful ekphrasis. How do you describe a place that is at once so simple and so complex? This massive shelter, with its glass walls and overabundance of Adirondack chairs, is a mystery. I shall do my best to do it justice.
The common truth of South Lodge is inexplicability. Small walls have been put up at random, adorned with school decorations or images of large wild animals. Wicker spheres dangle from the ceiling in distressing Damoclean design. Bowling and collegiate wrestling play on televisions scattered along the walls. Why this all is, none of us will ever be allowed to know.
Another of the lodge’s motifs, perhaps a sub-theme of inexplicability, is wildlife. Fake plants are placed throughout, the most baffling of which are shrubs trimmed into perfect rectangular prisms. Several upright chunks of logs, no more than two or three feet tall, are clustered together to form a seating area. Altogether a manipulation of artificial greenery to create an uncanny approximation of the natural world.
There is abundant use, not only of light, but of the concept of light itself. String lights are draped low across the ceiling. The LED lights lining the lodge’s perimeter provide a gentle purple ambiance. Miniature streetlights bespeak of anachronistic small-town quaintness. False campfires furnish a few tables throughout the lodge, the quasi-illusion created with a quivering sheet of thin white cloth lit with a pinkish hue in an unusual imitation of a flickering flame.
In the middle of the lodge, there sit three towering triangular tents, each made of huge slats of wood and housing a single chair. They intimidate. They are reminiscent of royalty, or perhaps of the elders of some ancient religion. I fear that these sibylline isosceles titans hide something terrible, something gravely silent about which we are all too frightened to ask.
I write this unbearably pretentious column in South Lodge itself, seated comfortably on a dark brown chair. As I rock back and forth, my feet pressed against the tawny wooden floor, I feel content. Do you feel it too? Let the lodge wash over you.
Because the truth of the matter is, you walk into the lodge with hope held in your heart and you see the lawn furniture and the mini-golf grass and the ever-coveted rocking booths, and you enter a world beyond the cold, a world that is not yours but entered into anyways, stupefied and numb, and finally you find a dangling chair that is shaped like half an egg and you sit in that chair.
Ella Wisniewski is a junior studying English and Economics. She tries her best not to take herself too seriously. You can reach her at [email protected] or @ellawisn on Twitter.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.