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The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Blitzed on Green Key

I'll have Dartmouth Life for $200 please, Alex."

"And the clue in that category: 'The reason for having Green Key Weekend.'"

The contestants furiously pounce on their buzzers.


"What is 'being drunk for 48 hours straight?'"

Of course! What an obvious question. Dartmouth students are always drunk. The "D" is for drinking! Heck, I'm drunk right now. Drunk, drunk, drunk. Once more for effect ... DRUNK.

I am about to make a most amazing statement. I'm going to violate the unspoken code and let you in on a little secret -- the idea that students here drink perpetually has to be the most overblown lie about Dartmouth.

This weekend you will hear many a Dartmouth student tell you that Green Key is "an excuse to get smashed at 9:00 in the morning." The proper response to such a statement is the knowing chuckle, the sly nod of the head and the saunter as you walk away thinking to yourself, "I wonder if anyone actually does that?"

Indeed there is someone who is tanked for the entire weekend. It's "That Guy." Everyone knows "That Guy." He's never you or any of your close friends, but he's a legend. Picture in your mind an unwashed, gut-toting and baseball-hatted flannel mass with a beer permanently velcroed to his hand. He miraculously avoids being Parkhursted every term. He's "That Guy."

I've met about three of "Those Guys" in my time here at Dartmouth. But I've also met a lot of big talkers. Those sorts of people like to play the competitive alcohol name-dropping game. "That over there is the Mr. Russian Extratasteless 250 Proof Vodka. Yes, that one there next to the Toasty Island Superpotent Rum from Belize. What? You don't know the seven ingredients to making a White Mountain Megablitz?" (And you thought all alcohol in plastic bottles was the same!) Before even passing the point of legal intoxication, the talkers are already swaggering and loudly announcing their drunkness. They boast of passing out in a pool of their own vomit, as if that made for a fun and enjoyable evening. These may be some extreme and immature examples, but it never ceases to amuse me how much people like to yack about drunkenness.

Though many students like to talk big about alcohol, when it comes time to put up or shut up, they can't do either because they're secluded with a biology book in Baker Library on the eighth level of the stacks. No one got into Dartmouth because of their alcohol tolerance. I do admit that more drinking will go on this weekend than would happen normally, but, honestly, the silent mass of Dartmouth students are still working in a good amount of study time -- even on Green Key Weekend.

Strip away the boasts of "I know all the German beers in alphabetical order" and, not surprisingly, Dartmouth students are actually interesting bright people with normal drinking habits. I find it annoying that "The Guy" gives the Dartmouth student body a reputation.

If Green Key isn't just a big boozefest, then why is it often considered the best of the big Dartmouth weekends? I have no recollection of whether or not I had any alcohol during Green Key last year, but I do remember that the weekend was fabulous.

What made it fabulous wasn't "The Scene" on Webster Ave., because, frankly, that's there every weekend. What I liked was that, during Green Key, Dartmouth turns inside out. For two days, thousands of students spill out of buildings from behind their books and computers and converge on whatever grass was spared from the winter. I've never seen so many people playing volleyball in my whole life. From any point on campus, you can hear the battle of the dueling stereos, as speakers sit in open windows. Inevitably, whoever is blaring the music has horrendous musical taste, but I still smile to hear it. The music, the volleyball, the idle lounging on the grass -- they remind me that Dartmouth is alive.

Green Key gives us all an excuse to just chill. Perhaps for some people relaxation involves drinking, but for everyone Green Key is a mandate to enjoy yourself. No one will send you frantic blitzes about working on a snow sculpture, and no one will ask you to run around a four-thousand degree bonfire. What Green Key lacks in tradition-driven mass movements, it makes up for in fun, amoebic unstructure. Green Key is great. Baker Tower puts on the green party light and Dartmouth becomes the place I'd always pictured college to be.

Have a good time this weekend. And when someone asks you what this weekend if for, remember that for many, if not most people, there's more to Green Key Weekend than beer.