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.
Over the past couple of weeks, WesShop grapes have become an important player in my study food rotation. Mostly because every time I enter the market, they sit in the produce aisle near the front of the shop and beckon me. And every time I am beckoned, I am forced to walk over to inspect the illustrious fruit. And every time I inspect, I discover such a perfectly ripe, juicy, delicious batch of grapes that I am unable to leave the store without a bag of my own. For some mysterious reason, WesShop has the best grape game of any grocery store I have ever known. Never are they too soft or unripe, never are they too bitter or too sour. They are consistently perfect.
In most ways, they are an ideal Olin snack. Small but flavorful, crunchy but quiet, filling but light. But in other, and perhaps more important, ways, they are not. The first time I brought them into Olin, second floor right side, the snack consumption went off without a hitch. Placed in the middle of the big table, the grapes became a communal and grounding force for me and my study partners. When writer’s block hit, I grabbed some grapes. When one friend used the wrong formula in an equation, she grabbed some grapes. When another friend realized he was supposed to read three, not two, chapters of his book, he grabbed some grapes. And the snack revived us, encouraged each one of us to persist. They were exactly what I never knew I needed. But it was when I was left alone with the grapes that the trouble really began.
Sitting at a carrel on the third floor, the gentle crumpling of the plastic bag seemed louder, as did the crunch of the fruit itself when it burst between my teeth. It’s fine, I thought to myself, the noise isn’t too offensive, they’re not Doritos. But when I put them down on the ground, out of sight and mind for my impending work session, I must have neglected to check the security of their position. For when a tough essay brainstorm prompted me to roll way back and put my hands behind my head, as one does when they are contemplating life’s grander questions, I felt a dramatic crunch under one wheel of the chair. I quickly rolled forward to assess the damage. “Crunch! Crunch!” Two more grapes had been smashed by the chair, and I was in crisis mode. I glanced over at the bag, which was lying on its side next to the carrel. Grapes could be spotted emanating from the bag in every direction, dangerously close to the other carrels, where students were studying in similarly wheeled chairs. I burst into action, scurrying across the rug, squinting ravenously to try and spot the strays. Nose to the ground, I crawled over to the carrel next to mine, where I spotted a grape resting precariously behind the roller chair, occupied by a student. Perhaps the assignment he was working on demanded that he contemplate life’s grander questions, because he rolled way back and put his hands behind his head and “CRUNCH!” He first looked down, where he discovered the flattened grape, and then at me, panic-struck on all fours. I gave him a nervous smile and mumbled sorry before quickly picking myself up and immediately exiting the library.
Grapes, my dearest diary, are best reserved for the kitchen.
A week or two ago I went over to Long Lane Farm with the intention of taking some pictures for my photography class. I thought I’d get some nice photos of ducks and dirt, so I drove over on a Saturday afternoon. I was hoping no one would be there, but when I showed up there were three students working at the farm. This was a little inhibiting, because I feel a little less free to take pictures when other people are around, but I decided I would just cozy up to these folks, then they’d like me, and I would feel more confident to take photos with them there.
I say hi to them, and they say it’s no problem for me to walk around the farm and take some pictures. I start walking around, but I don’t really find anything interesting to shoot, so I’m trying to make my way over to the ducks for what I have decided will be the money shot. By the time I get over to the duck enclosure, the three students happen to be doing the duck portion of their farm work. I decide to just sort of stand near them and look through my camera as if trying to figure out a shot, but I’m really just waiting for them to move on so I can get a picture of the ducks. As I’m standing there silently, they are discussing how to fill the inflatable duck bath with water. They’re trying to figure out how to fill it up from far away. One guy stands fifteen feet away from the bath and says, “last week I tried filling it up from here.” Puzzled, I break my silence.
“What, are you afraid to get close to the ducks?”
They look at each other. They look at me. “No,” one of them says, “the hose doesn’t reach.”
Why in the world would people who work at a farm be afraid of ducks?
I didn’t get the shot.