(Printed in the Yale Daily News, May 18, 2012. This is the pro-Myrtle stance, which was published right next to an anti-Myrtle article)
Every radio station on the southern leg of the drive to Myrtle, South Carolina tried to make me love Jesus. The songs would trick you with catchy guitar and melodic vocals, and all of a sudden you’d realize they were singing about salvation and angels. With the company of four friends and a sassy female GPS, I drove down south not knowing what to expect, except that it was going to be weird. All I really knew was that Jesus loved me and that I was terrified of wearing a bathing suit after having worked my way through every one of Chick-Fil-A’s offerings on the ride down. But most of all, I was terrified of being surrounded by hundreds of seniors: many of whom I knew, many of whom I vaguely knew, and many of whom I resented for speaking too frequently or loudly in section.
So why did I—along with hunnids, hunnids of Yale seniors—travel over seven hundred miles for just four days of bacchanalia, nausea, fried chicken, and sunburn?
It all made sense when I arrived at the section of beach behind Avista resort, where the neon-clad Yale kids (and usually one confused family) station themselves. Everything was magical. Largely because everyone was wasted, but also because the water was beautiful, the air was hot, and I was carrying a two-liter Myrtle mug filled with Corona. Partying on the beach after a year of theses, exams, and the New Haven climate was pretty much the ideal situation. People with job prospects (fuck them all) were enjoying their last weeks of freedom before becoming Real People, and people with no job prospects were enjoying the last few days of excessive day drinking not being considered a problem.
Myrtle isn’t for the weak, or the sober, or the easily-rattled. Everything is in excess. Example: there’s a diner just five minutes away from the hotel that serves a hamburger topped with slices of hot dogs. It’s called the Just Don’t Seem Right burger, and it’s delicious. Another example: the first moment I arrived on the beach, I saw a man in an American-flag Speedo urinating. It’s just a lot to process. The schedule, too, is over the top. You wake up at noon, fill up your vesicle with booze, and hit the beach until the late afternoon, at which point you nap until 9pm and maybe eat before going to Spanish Galleon, a club affectionately known as “Spoads,” where you can dance in cages and sweat out half your body weight.
Myrtle is weird, and in a lot of ways, terrible, but I could not imagine a better way to end my senior year. I feel closer to my class—seeing many of them pee helped—and I’m tan now. Yeah, I could have gone hiking or to some place cultural or scenic, but no, fuck that. We deserve to sit on a beach, drink all day, and pee wherever we want. It’s a beautiful thing.
(Here’s a piece I wrote reflecting on what it’s like to be a little dumb at Yale. It was published in the Yale Record’s commencement issue.)
I didn’t stop writing backwards “S’s” until third grade. In fifth grade I was in the slow reading group and still played with Pokémon cards, daily. In seventh grade, I was eliminated from the spelling bee because, when given the word “snowshoe,” I spelled S-N-O-W-B-O-X. Just the other day, I learned that there was no “o” in “maneuvered” and that “colloquially” did not mean “formally.”
For these reasons, along with the quantitative reasoning requirement, Yale was never an obvious fit for me. I never was the sort of person who felt comfortable using the word “juxtaposition” in conversation. Yet when I visited Yale it felt right. People didn’t judge me for preferring the film version of Fight Club to the book because the film involved visuals of Brad Pitt’s body. They didn’t judge me for keeping the top button of my jeggings undone when I felt bloated, which was always. They didn’t judge me for thinking French philosophy was pretty awesome and vaguely relevant.
I was deferred and then waitlisted to Yale, which means that I was the incoming freshman that the university was the most indifferent about. But I didn’t let this discourage me. That summer, I made a list of books I should read to make me smart enough. Things like Lolita, Crime and Punishment, some poetry. I even toyed with the idea of teaching myself a language, maybe Yoruba.
I never taught myself Yoruba or read the books (I was still sort of into Pokémon), but, fortunately, I didn’t need to. Because when I arrived at Yale, I found that most people also thought they weren’t smart enough, which was great, because it allowed us to all move past the whole “smart” thing and do what we loved. Eat over-priced snacks from Durfee’s until we felt ill. Talk about Foucault at a party and not get drinks thrown at us. Post esoteric Facebook statuses and get at least a few likes. Run naked through a library throwing candy. You know, things we’d always dreamed of doing. But it still took awhile to feel like I belonged amongst all these people who said things like “amongst.” I hadn’t had any books published. I hadn’t discovered a new protein, or even known what a protein was, outside of meat that I ate. I even got a bunch of B’s.
The past four years have been full of crushing moments. All those times I found out that super cute guy in section was gay. All those times I got caught nibbling from the Gheav buffet. All those times I fell asleep with a Wenzel on my face. All those times mice have started a life in my room and shat on everything I own. I would do it all again, though. The mouse defecation, the little failures, the G-heav nibbling fines. Because I became a person who believes that she might be smart, that it might not matter that she will never, ever use “juxtaposition” in a sentence.
One night of my freshman year, I slept on a pew in Battel Chapel, to avoid getting shot by a water gun during a college-wide game of assassins. I believe it was this night, as I lay sprawled out on a cold and hard pew under some issues of the YDN for warmth, that I realized: “Hey, I might not be that smart, or have any weird talents, or even like Wenzels that much, but damnit, I belong here.”
Tomorrow morning, I am going to Cancun. This is where I’m staying. Unlimited snacks, unlimited beverages, unlimited sunshine.
I’m about to put the FUN in canFUN!!!