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.
Now this one’s a historical Middletown Diary for you. Let me take you back in time to June 1915…
The doors of St. Mary’s Church on Hubbard Street burst open, and a procession of ecstatic wedding guests spill out. Leading the charge is groom Josef Dzik holding the arm of his beautiful new bride, who turns to smile at her best friend, and maid of honor, Annie Drapola. The merry band winds its way down the street to Rockfall for the raucous reception. Raising glass after glass to the happy couple, the guests become progressively more inebriated. Outside the hall, Josef and his friends stir up chaos by firing a pistol into the ground, making Annie and some of the other guests come out to see what the fuss is about. Josef jokingly points the gun at Annie, who shrieks, thinking it’s loaded. He explains that he was just trying to scare her, and that the gun is actually empty. To prove it, he pulls the trigger. The gun goes off with a bang, and the startling noise snuffs out the sounds of the party inside. As Annie falls to the ground, there’s a moment of perfect silence, then the guests break into hysterics. Some run to Annie’s side as the blood begins to soak through her bridesmaid’s dress and spill onto the grass. Josef just stands there, frozen to the spot.
One guest collects himself enough to run for help, but the only ambulance in Middlesex Hospital is a horse and carriage. When it arrives, Annie has lost valuable time and blood. While Josef tries to console his distraught new wife, Annie is rushed to the hospital. The bullet has pierced her intestine seven times, and the doctors consult each other only to conclude that even if she pulls through surgery, she will likely die of peritonitis, an infection of the abdomen.
But against all odds, Annie makes a full recovery. She lives to the ripe age of 86, raising a family in Middletown. In fact, only five months after the shooting she was married. Her new husband? Josef Dzik.
Thanks to the Middletown Historical Society for providing this information.
–Katarina M Grealish
For the past three and a half years, I have maintained an immoral ruse that my guilt-addled conscience will no longer allow me to keep up. It all started freshman year, when I remembered last-minute that I was supposed to bring some sort of baked good to a club meeting. When I showed up later that day, a pan of still-warm brownies in hand, my peers complimented me excessively on how amazing these particular brownies were. Were they homemade? they asked. And in one of those spur-of-the-moment, life-altering moments of decision, I told what I thought was a harmless lie: Yes, they were homemade.
Thus my moral descent began.
What I didn’t realize at the time was how deep this lie would eventually run. It was only a few weeks before that club asked me to make my homemade brownies again. And only a few weeks after that that word started to spread—and that initial, harmless untruth began to spiral uncontrollably.
I won’t lie—the glamour, the attention, the rush of a dozen people complimenting these brownies was something I came to crave. I started making brownies more and more often, sidling closer and closer to the edge of something I couldn’t quite fathom. But soon, a few people’s compliments weren’t enough. I started looking for excuses to make a pan of brownies—for a professor whose class I missed, for the group of students I TA for, for my bosses at work. I started to deepen the lie—I’d tell people how good my homemade brownies are just to get them to ask me to make them; I once told a 10-minute story of how I perfected the recipe. I had my girlfriend make them, give them to someone else, and become complicit in the lie. The cracks started to show. Someone asked me if I was sure they weren’t just store-bought. Someone else told me they weren’t even that good. I had finally found that unfathomable edge—and gone tumbling over it in a whirlwind of pride and chocolate chips.
It is impossible for me to sustain this lie any longer. Though it terrifies me, I offer my truth to the dozens, possibly hundreds, of people I’ve misled these past few years: The brownies were not my own recipe. They came out of a box.
But now, with the burden of my guilt lifted, I think it’s time to try to make some of my own.
I went down to Metro Movies this weekend on a blustery fall evening. I drove…by motor vehicle. A Subaru Impreza, to be exact. It was the end of October. Halloween Season. I noticed, keenly, that many of the local establishments have put up Halloween decorations to draw in customers. Soon, those same decorations WILL be swapped out for Christmas decorations, I think to myself somberly. Same paper and plastic materials, but different colors, and alas symbolism.
I walked into my friend’s Fountain home earlier that morning to help her cook a frittata for our club’s congregation in thirty minutes. I hadn’t realized that I was obligated to make a dish. I worry that I’m going to be dubbed a so-called “slacker.” I don’t want to be seen as a slacker. “Rats,” I grumble under my breath. To myself. I walk in through the door frame, under the faux French windows plastered on the facade of this creaky wood-frame house. Immediately, I smell eggs. Something is off about the interior of the house. It’s quiet…a little too quiet. Where are all the housemates? I ask myself. Hypothetically, they could be in their rooms but I can sense there isn’t another soul in this dastardly home. And there’s something more. I noticed an open bag of mushrooms are on the coffee table in front of the TV in the living room and yet the bag of chips are in the fridge. A few moments later, I burn my hand trying pick up the frittata pan after my so-called “friend” yells at me from the other room that it needs to be taken out of the oven. Ouch!
Back at the movie theater, I buy a large drink and a bag of popcorn. The popcorn is loose on the top; some spillage occurs. I butter it up with that fake butter where you press the button, like a remote, and it pours out…like the Niagara Falls. I jog down the long, dimly lit corridor to my theater. “Theater number eight,” the ticket man told me in a drab tone. I was going to see “Joker,” the Big new movie starring Joaquin Phoenix from “Gladiator.”
–Panama Jack (Luke Goldstein)