Sam's Little Larks

by Sam Van Wetter | 4/5/16 5:21pm

BEEN SAM and BEEN DIFFERENT are talking at the Collis front desk. A tour of eager high schoolers has just exited.

BEEN SAM: It just trips me out how things can change here and then within, like, three years there are hardly any students around who remember how it used to be.

BEEN DIFFERENT: Like what, before they let women in?

SAM: Yeah, obviously, but other things, too. Smaller things. Like new buildings. Being the last one to walk in the Hood before they tear it up. Remembering, like a dream, an entire term when the Collis Café occupied 101, that weird conference room in the corner of the first floor? That was when mozz sticks and chicken fingers were serve-yourself. People were so careless and would spill so much marinara on the carpet that they started laying garbage bags out on the floor before late night opened.

DIFFERENT: I don’t remember that.

SAM: Yes you do. Freshman winter, Common Ground was —

DIFFERENT: No, I just don’t think they put plastic down.

SAM: They definitely did.

DIFFERENT: Maybe it’s just that they should have done that.

SAM: I’m pretty sure they did.

DIFFERENT: Who knows.

SAM: Right? That’s the point. Who knows? Administrators, probably. Long-time staff. Like, Collis Dave told me you used to be able to use DBA in town, and it’s true! In the ’90s they had this thing, the Dartmouth Green Card that was like a debit card you could use at a bunch of places in town. It was like DA$H but you could buy beer at Stinson’s with it. You could withdraw cash with it! You could go to Bagel Basement! Remember Bagel Basement! It hardly functioned, ran out of bagels by 9 a.m. on a Sunday but at least it was trying to give us something we needed! Not just another Thai restaurant! Oh, ’20s are never gonna know how good it was when —

DIFFERENT: Okay, we don’t need that.

SAM: I’m just saying that things used to be different!

DIFFERENT: And it used to be a colonizing institution! And it used to — still does — promote and perpetuate racist, sexist, homophobic and classist traditions! But things are getting better! We’re making progress! (In a whiny voice, to sound like SAM but worse) “But we used to drink hard alcohol!” Yeah, and students have died from alcohol abuse. We’re trying to get better. And we lose some DA$H-to-cash system? So what. People don’t remember. So quit bemoaning.

SAM: I know. I used to hate it when crusty ’13s would try to tell me all about how much better Old Foco was.

CRUSTY ’13 #1: Home Plate was the bomb.

CRUSTY ’13 #2: And the Blend? The smoothie bar?

CRUSTY ’13 #3: The smoothie and cereal bar?

CRUSTY ’13 #2: And the runway. Remember the runway?

SAM: No…

CRUSTY ’13 #2: Oh right, of course you don’t. The whole entrance way was like —

CRUSTY ’13 #1: — was like a runway! So, like, when people would walk in and they’d be —

CRUSTY ’13 #3: — they’d be drunk, right, and everyone eating —

CRUSTY ’13 #1: — literally everyone eating —

CRUSTY ’13 #3: — would be able to see the drunkest, sloppiest, runway show of all these people trying to get food.

(A pause. It’s less funny out loud than they thought.)

CRUSTY ’13 #2: You probably had to be there.

SAM: I guess so...

CRUSTY ’13 #1: Foco used to be awesome.

DIFFERENT: Yeah, but it didn’t have Marilyn.

CRUSTY ’13 #1: Marilyn?

DIFFERENT: Ever notice that plaque on the south wall of the dark side? It says it’s the future home to some Warhol lithographs of Marilyn Monroe. Apparently some alum, class of ’53 you see, he had them all his life and he died and so now it’s Dartmouth’s turn. They might take a little while to get installed. I imagine they probably will want to put some plexiglass or something over it, I know people love to make off with DDS’s art and so I hope they think a little harder about how they attach these but like, I don’t know, maybe you don’t want priceless original work out open in the air where, like, people eat soup, but yeah. Marilyn. Warhol! In Foco! That’s something the ’20s have on you.

SAM: That is so rude. I’ve read that sign since freshman year and just assumed it was a long-con from the administration.

DIFFERENT: Still miss old Collis?

SAM: No. Of course not. It’s hard to miss things when they keep getting better. But there will be people, characters, individuals who I wish could stay on forever in Hanover. The staples. The people you see everyday, or only once or twice a term, who you’ll think you might keep on seeing forever. Or at least until you graduate. People you don’t think you’ll miss and then you can’t help but do.

COLLIS SAM (Walking up to the desk): Hi, Sam, how are you?

SAM: I’m fine. How are you?

COLLIS SAM: Can I borrow the phone, Sam?

SAM: You got it. (He maneuvers cords and puts the phone on the counter. COLLIS SAM begins a conversation about a car ride to Quechee, darling, and did you call Wells Fargo?, what did they have to say about my portfolio?)

DIFFERENT: Who’s that?

SAM: Collis Sam.

DIFFERENT: I thought you were Collis Sam.

SAM: We both are. Or maybe not. He can have it. He was here first.

DIFFERENT: Who is he?

SAM: One of our eccentrics. He worked in the library in the ’50s or ’60s, I think. He was paid ¢10 an hour, or that’s what he tells people. We have the same conversation over and over. His mother was a Kappa and his father was an SAE. He tells everyone he’s 102.

DIFFERENT: Is it true?

SAM: I don’t know. I don’t care. He loves Collis and Collis loves him.

(COLLIS SAM hangs up. SAM pulls the phone back.)

COLLIS SAM: Thank you, Sam. Where are you from?

SAM: I’m from Denver, Colorado.

COLLIS SAM: Ah, Denver! I’ve been to the Brown Palace Hotel in Estes Park. My mother was a Kappa. Thanks for the phone.

SAM: Have a nice day, Sam. See you soon?

COLLIS SAM: I hope so.

SAM: I hope so too.

In memory of Sam Tefft, 1940-2016.