The Senior Spring Dilemma

by John Strayer | 4/11/96 5:00am

I stood nervously at the plate. This was to be my last at bat ever and I knew it. I had reached the end of the Little League line. I did my best to ignore the pressure that was weighing on my shoulders. I had to concentrate, it was late in the game and we were down a run.

I walked.

My last plate appearance ended with a base on balls. Then I stole second. Anti-climatic? Perhaps. But then it was also fitting for a player whose success had always been the result of scrappy, heads-up play.

Well seniors, it's the bottom of the ninth, last game of the season, and the boys in the front office have already announced that they are not going to pick up your contract for another year. Here's the pitch ...

It's all about the answer to that one ubiquitous question, "How was your term?" Terms can be good or bad, fun or boring. For some the quality of the term is based solely on academic performance. I avoid those people.

So Senior Spring we all want to have a "good term." But what do we have to work with? That's right, the same old pot of fondue and it is getting cold. It's hard to say when the sterno went out, but it definitely stopped burning at some point.

Maybe it was six months off that put out the sterno. Or perhaps it was the painful reality of a thesis. For some it was simply the cumulative effect of four winters in Hanover. In any case, the fire is gone.

As a result, the fondue is starting to congeal. You can still stir it up with some success, but stirring increases the chances that you'll bump into that piece of bread that fell off your fork a long time ago.

You know that piece of bread: that bad break-up, that honor code violation or that random hook-up, that Dartmouth skeleton that keeps showing up.

A little more alcohol can improve the consistency of the mix. It also helps you ignore that cheese-soaked piece of bread. But more alcohol also increases the chances of ending up face down in the fondue, never quite making it to graduation.

Another tactic is to look for those parts of the fondue that have remained hidden. And so we search out new friends and acquaintances.

This leads to a horrible Catch 22. If you meet new jerks then you wish you had stayed home, while if you meet great people then you regret that you have but one term left.

It can make you want to take the whole package, the bread, the forks, the pot, the burnt out sterno, and chuck it in the Connecticut. Just walk away and count down the days to graduation.

And yet we can't. Maybe it's nostalgia, maybe it is the fact that we've invested four years of our lives in this place, but for whatever reason we don't want to leave with a bad taste in our mouths. The sinking feeling that someone out there is having a "great" Senior Spring drives us to action. We have no choice but to dive in and make the best of it.

Which brings me back to the baseball metaphor. Right now, I'm looking for a base on balls. Dartmouth, for me anyway, has been a series of walks, infield singles and sacrifice flies. Oh sure, maybe there was a triple in there somewhere, but there were plenty of strike-outs as well.

One of the easiest ways to strike out is to try and hit a home run. But all that pressure on us to have a "good" term and that fear that we are missing out, these things combine to urge us to swing for the fences.

But I'll be happy if I go out doing what I've always done. If I can enjoy Senior Spring in the same manner I enjoyed Junior and Sophomore Springs, then I will be in good shape. Nothing spectacular, but solid. Hey, maybe I can even steal second.

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