This set of stories was curated by Sasha Linden-Cohen.
Based on the New York Times’ “Metropolitan Diaries,” the Middletown Diaries will include awkward, funny, novel, or sweet anecdotes, stories or memories that happen at Wesleyan and in Middletown. To submit to the Middletown Diaries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Across campus today the news quickly spread. I heard it first in Espwesso, then outside of SciLi, then across dining tables at Usdan. Looks of shock, amazement, and horror appeared on the faces of the Wesleyan student body, as they felt the tables shift beneath their laptops. The lights seemed to flash, and one student forgot where they were entirely. No one had prepared them for this revelation, this life-altering demonstration of the fragility, of the ephemeral nature of the world around them.
Grounded in their 20 or so years of understanding centuries of tradition, they did not know imagery was so fleeting. In trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible news, students began their processes in different ways. Some laughed, no doubt from a hidden source of pain. Some spoke about the matter in solemn tones, discussing the pros and cons of such a decision and contemplating what the natural next steps should be. Some began to speak of uprising and revolution. As some asked question of its purpose, its design, its functionality, others still hoped to inquire of their classmates knowledge of the news itself.
Softly in the library or loudly across the field, they whispered and called and shouted the question on everyone’s minds:
“Did you see the Wesleyan website today?”
I have a classmate (who’s halfway committed to his hipster glasses matching the rest of his outfit) obsessed with the phrase: vis-á-vis. I always thought that locutions like vis-á-vis, meaning “in relation to; with regard to,” were reserved for middle-aged guys trying to prove they went to college, but my classmate seems to have a different impression, and squeezes it into his speech about three times every minute.
He could be the most insightful person in the world, and so could our professor, but I wouldn’t know, as I spend most of the class counting and mentally categorizing his vis-á-vis usage, which grows more cavalier by the day. Words like ‘also’, ‘or’, ‘because’, ‘however’ and even ‘um’ are all replaced by vis-á-vis, each usage more incorrect than the last.
Yesterday, after he delivered his most recent, grammatically horrific soliloquy, I watched him for a moment, expecting some kind of vapid, self-satisfied grin. Instead, he looked down at the table with a subtle, sweet smile as his shoulders twitched upwards slightly. It was a private, muted, genuine chuckle, as if this whole vis-á-vis business had never been about smugness or misplaced intellectualism, as if it’s just an ongoing, offbeat bit, a joke for an audience of one… or two.