Traditionally Chaotic

by Tanisha Keshava | 10/19/01 5:00am

It's not that I mind getting a little burnt. A

few sunburns here and there are common during the summer, especially when I go to the beach. Once I burned myself during a chemistry lab, which was pretty exciting. I think I even touched a candle when I was five.

The point is, I don't have a big phobia about fires or getting burnt. I just didn't expect that there would be many occasions when I'd get burnt here at Dartmouth. We're not exactly close to sunny beaches and apparently, after the long winter, 40 degrees is considered warm. And I didn't expect to touch candles or mess up a chemistry experiment. So all in all, I thought I would be relatively safe from burns. That is, before I found out about Homecoming.

The whole scene is playing out before my eyes. It's not hard to imagine: a crisp, starry fall night (well, it doesn't necessarily have to be starry, but it adds a certain effect, I think), a humongous bonfire on the Green, hordes of freshmen running around said bonfire and the taunting upperclassmen yelling, "Touch the fire!" From what I've heard, it's chaos around the bonfire.

And why wouldn't it be? There will be hundreds of freshmen madly running around a gigantic fire while the rest of the school watches/pushes/taunts them. Factor in the various levels of drunkenness of the population and it's not hard to see why things can get a little out of hand. I'm actually surprised that the event is still mostly safe, considering it involves drunk freshmen and a huge fire. The ingredients spell disaster.

It sounds rather dangerous, doesn't it? It probably is, especially since I hear that many people get close enough to be burnt and some even think it's a good idea to touch the fire. In the heat of the moment (pun intended, of course), I guess just about anything can seem like a good idea. And then, there are the upperclassmen egging the freshmen on, so it's not completely unfathomable that freshmen actually touch the fire.

Everyone assumes that freshmen are stupid, anyway. Don't even bother to deny it. It's like some sort of unwritten law. And I admit, we are guilty of doing some distinctly freshmen things like walking in packs, bouncing around with too much enthusiasm and introducing ourselves to random people. But still, we can't be completely devoid of gray matter, can we? Even as I say that, I realize that some of us will probably touch the bonfire. But then again, it might be fun, so maybe the bold souls who actually accept the challenge are onto something, after all.

As fun as the whole bonfire ritual sounds, I think getting to the bonfire is probably as entertaining, if not more so. The freshmen sweep promises to be a phenomenon unto itself. We'll be walking in a sea of familiar faces, of '05s that we live with, have classes with or just see around campus -- walking among friends, roommates, trippees.

The sweep begins in the River, so I guess I'll be one of the first '05s charging for the bonfire. The excitement that I feel now is probably nothing when compared to what I'll feel when I'm actually walking toward the bonfire. I have never been one for tradition, but there's something about this school that makes you feel as though you should be a part of its traditions. I don't know; maybe I'm just brainwashed.

And of course, Homecoming weekend would not be complete without all the parties that are certain to be raging around campus, parties that '05s are not welcome to, but will get into anyway. I'm not quite sure how the frats intend to keep the '05s out of the parties. There is more than one way to enter a frat and not all of them can be manned at all times. If you're really determined, you can definitely get in. As simple as that.

That does mean, however, that more than the usual number of freshmen (possibly drunk and somewhat burnt) will be trying to enter the frats via the fire escapes, windows and other creative means. It should be an interesting sight, although I wouldn't want to be present when someone takes a fall. Climbing to those windows can be tricky business. Might be easier to just take your chances at the door. What's the worst that can happen? They can say no and then you can go back to those windows.

Brainwashed or not, I'm very psyched for Homecoming weekend, for every aspect of it: the bonfire, the sweep, the parties. And I almost forgot. I think we'll be playing a football game at some point (Go Big Green ummm, yeah). The important thing is to go and enjoy yourself obscenely. Midterms will make their presence felt soon enough. So I intend to make the most of my Homecoming experience. And who knows, things might get a little crazy. I might even touch the fire.

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