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A Letter to Collins

October 15, 2008

by Kelly Grimes

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Collins, you say?  STALIN’S!

Upon arrival at Collins Dining Hall over here at good ‘ol CMC, my first encounter (beyond the card swipe) is the hefty woman on the left, more commonly known by her nicknames “prison-cafeteria-creature” and “middle-school-lunch-lady.”  There’s no question as to her expectation of the human ability to consume ungodly amounts of scrambled eggs, sausage patties, and hot rolls that remain propped beside her in the cardboard box in which they were shipped, frozen, to Collins.  While she sympathizes with the fact that my daily intake cannot possibly exceed my body weight, she still conceives that my robust 100 pounds could make use of 15 pounds a day, or 105 pounds a week.  I didn’t even have to tell her that I run 10 miles a day, bike 30, and play on the football, lacrosse, tennis, and swim teams.  It’s as if she just knew.

Occasionally, I have unfortunate days of profound weakness when my abilities falter and I simply cannot stomach 15 pounds of Collins’ delicious and irresistible fare.  I don’t deserve such empathy, but again, prison-cafeteria-creature understands.  After she has gone to all the trouble of slopping, I mean, delicately placing, 2 ½ pounds of scrambled eggs onto my plate, I protest “wait, wait!  Not so much today!”  Because she, too, has experienced times of frailty, she knows what to do: she extends her arm to her side, plate in hand, and with quick jerks of her wrist she throws the appetizing chunks of egg back into the dish with his comrades.  I breathe a sigh of relief as she now seizes with her bare paw a smaller portion of egg and deposits it onto my plate, careful to spread the grease around and provide the rest of my foods with a warm and tasty blanket of scrambled egg.  Finally, I am free to continue in my journey over to omelet-man.

Now, I hand the malicious omelet-man a small plate where rest a few docile vegetables only to subsequently receive something altogether unexpected after an innocent request (accompanied with slight smile) of “an omelet, please.”  There on my plate is what could have been a beautiful and serene breakfast omelet: now the mangled corpse, all parts exposed, of some thin egg beaters, a few brutalized tomato pieces, and a number of abused onion bits.  Omelet-man has just finished throwing them around his stovetop with the fury of a thousand harpies; my motherly instinct kicks in and I can hardly stop myself from coddling this poor creature that is so obviously in need of proper love and attention.  Unfortunately, I’ve just bonded with boy-behind-me-in-line over the anger emanating from behind the glass wall, and I fear that our budding friendship could come to a halt if he witnesses me consoling my meal in that low and serious tone that I get when I feel genuinely remorseful about something.  “Oh, eggy, I’m really sorry he treated you like that.”  Alas, I begrudgingly hold my tongue and weave my way to other sites of blatant mistreatment and unjust torture.

Throughout the experience, I contemplate with increasing violence: this is college, the time of my life!  I am no longer imprisoned in Georgetown High School, and I am absolutely not in jail!  Pamela Gann wouldn’t stand for this.  No, sir.  Something must be done.  By the time my thoughts have progressed to this level of indignation, I’m preparing my after-meal hot toddy (For those of you who remain in the dark about “hot toddies,” they are delicious concoctions of hot tea, sugar, honey, and whiskey or a similar alcohol.  I drink about 10 a day to keep the throat aches away). In the midst of making my elixir, I realize: there’s no cute honey-filled bear around this place.  This really puts me over the edge, and I finally break into strained protests at the straight-toothed, Hawaiian-shirted manager: “I understand that it’s my obligation to bring my own whiskey, but should I rightly be expected to supply the honey, too?”  Suffice it to say, I’ll be making the trek to Frary more frequently from now on.

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