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The art of the devious lick

| Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Notre Dame prides itself on being one of the world’s finest Catholic higher education institutions. Its name carries a strong level of prestige that other universities can only aspire to achieve in their dreams. As a Catholic school, the University tries its best to teach its student body in ways that align with its corresponding religious tradition. The Ten Commandments are a core Christian teaching that intend to guide us along an ethical and moral path to live a life more closely aligned with God. However, it seems we have collectively failed in living up to the Seventh Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”

Stealing seems to be an integral part of the Notre Dame experience. At the dining halls, students continually sneak out bowls and cups by the dozen each week, crippling Campus Dining’s ability to keep up with student demand during peak hours. Once, North Dining Hall’s golf cart went missing and somehow ended up on the other side of campus, close to Duncan Hall. In buildings across the University, boxes of reusable masks are routinely snatched by sneaky passerbys. Within dorms, it is extremely common for people to snag name tags, posters and other wall decorations. Last year, the dreaded HERE signs were picked up on a daily basis, being kept by students as prized examples of what so many of us at Notre Dame have duly mastered, the devious lick. 

The term devious lick gained popularity in late 2021 as a TikTok challenge, where users posted videos of themselves showcasing items they stole, especially from their schools. Soap dispensers, exit signs, mirrors, and sinks all fell victim to a parade of licks that took the American education system by storm in autumn of last year. The ensuing moral panic, magnified by media commentators, led TikTok to crack down on users by taking down their posts. It was then banned overall by mid September, citing that it violated the platform’s community guidelines by promoting illegal activities. After all, several students throughout the country ended up under arrest as a result of them being caught. 

Within Stanford Hall, my dorm, devious licks have come to run rampant during weekend nights. Throughout this semester, our pool table’s balls, a bicycle, a resident’s laundry, flags and bathroom signs have all fallen victim to licks, the perpetrators protected by the anonymity their agility can come to grace them with. This Friday night, my Quad was hit with what we consider to be the most devious lick to ever take place within the walls of the Cinderblock Palace of Love, our South Bend home. After throwing a surprise birthday party for one of my roommates, the gathering quickly turned into yet another regular dorm party, with a consistent stream of students from all over the University wandering in and out of our common room. The next morning, as we mopped up the room and got ready to tidy things again, I was quick to notice something was missing. Within minutes, several members of our section had gathered to figure out the potential whereabouts of the fifth member of our Quad, Mr. Theodore Penguin. 

Mr. Theodore Penguin is a 4’11” papier-mache emperor penguin one of my roommate’s received as a going away gift from one of his friend’s from back home. During lockdown in early 2020, his friend’s mother, an artist, crafted the penguin from scratch, after my roommate saw her making some for her kindergarten class and decided he wanted one as well. Since he arrived at Notre Dame, Mr. Theodore Penguin has stood watch outside his room, a silent sentinel surveying Stanford Hall. This year, he stood at the end of our section’s hallway, resembling a quirky roadside attraction considering the number of visitors that ended up taking pictures with him during lively weekend nights. 

This Saturday, Mr. Theodore Penguin was gone from his usual spot. Nowhere to be seen, not a clue left behind for us to search for him. At a loss, we have spent the last two days desperately coordinating ways to retrieve him and bring him to his home, where he has known nothing but unconditional love and support. On Monday morning, we awoke to news that Mr. Theodore Penguin had been spotted. After being gone for over two full days, he ended up being unceremoniously dumped in the middle of North Quad. One of his wings had broken off, and was strewn next to him covered in wet bits of grass, dried leaves and dew. His beak was damaged and the paint job was chipped and dirty. We recovered him, but Mr. Theodore Penguin lost a great deal of personal dignity in the process. 

Thankfully, we were able to bring our cherished penguin comrade to his windowsill home. Sadly, it is safe to say several dozen personal mementos will not have as much luck. Instead, to quote Titanic, they’ll exist only in our memory. In the meantime, please refrain from executing such diabolical licks, as the laugh you score from the cheap thrill can sometimes cause infinite sorrow and anguish for those who experience the laugh. 

Pablo Lacayo is a junior majoring in finance with a minor in Chinese. Originally from Nicaragua, he is now a happy resident of Stanford Hall. Reach him at [email protected] over email.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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