Treehouses a Flop?

by Paul Marino | 10/15/01 5:00am

I am impressed with the tree houses," com-

mented '04 Leo Twiggs. "They are cost-efficient and fit in aesthetically with Dartmouth's colonial-style campus."

Stop lying.

If you haven't noticed, there are five new dorms in the River Cluster. They are called the "Tree Houses" because they are named after trees: Elm, Spruce, Pine, Birch, and Oak. These white buildings resemble houses, but should not be confused with the places you and I might call home -- for these are nothing but cages, filled with 6-foot laboratory rats.

That may be a little harsh, but consider the fact that they are heated electrically. Do you know how costly electrical heating is? Well, it is extraordinarily costly. Not to mention the fact that not one but zero of these "houses" is equipped with a functional washer or dryer. You know what that means? That means that these lab rats have to use the washers and dryers of neighboring River dorms, like mine: Maxwell. I suppose it should be noted, for journalism's sake, that the College has supplied the basement of Maxwell with two additional washers and dryers, but still -- it's the principle. Last night I caught one of these insects in my laundry room.

"Are you almost done? You know, you're hardly welcome here."

"Well," answered '04 Jamie Perencevich, a resident of Oak, "I've washed this shirt twice, but this ketchup stain still won't come out of the collar."

Jamie was using a Tide One-Time Tablet. That wasn't going to get a ketchup stain out. Those tablets might clean up a grass stain or even spaghetti sauce, but ketchup?

"Step aside, kid." I dripped a little Shur-fine brand detergent on there, spread the shirt taut over the top of the washer, and scratched hard at the stain with my thumbnail. A simple rinse in the sink, and the stain was no more.

Meanwhile, I explained to Jamie that I was writing a column on the new Tree Houses. Jamie agreed to let me check out his room in Oak.

The room was sufficiently large, fit two beds, dressers and desks comfortably, and provided enough general living space to make a snow angel, should the opportunity arise. I noticed an apple on Jamie's desk. It was a Macintosh.

"Do you eat a lot of apples, Jamie?"

"Sure, plenty."

"Like how many per day do you eat, you think -- on average?"

"Sometimes as many as four or five."

"Wow -- too bad that's nothing. I eat close to eight apples a day. No one eats more apples than me. No one." To prove my point, I swiped the apple from his desk and devoured it in seconds. Jamie was impressed.

Satiated, I decided to investigate the Tree Houses' namesake. I knew just the person to ask.

As it turns out, the Tree Houses were named after random trees, which happen to grow in the area, so they say. But hmm wait. Elm? I seem to remember elm trees disappearing some time after a minor episode we had with "Red Netherlands," in 1932, when a little something called the Dutch Elm Disease began strangling every elm from here to Illinois! Oh, you meant to say "Liberty Elms" -- the elm hybrid naturally protected from the infected beetle? Or maybe you meant the few remaining elms treated with life-saving fungicide? Weird, because you named the house just plain old "Elm," as if a truly authentic elm even exists in the state of New Hampshire -- or could ever have survived the attack -- subtly denying once again that the Dutch Elm Massacre ever happened. Perhaps it was merely a slip of the tongue. Strange.

But let's not get all steamed up about that. Other members of the committee, which met to name the housing addition, had ideas of their own. A slightly less popular idea was to name the small buildings after each of the five New England states. The obvious conflict with this idea -- besides the fact that we already have dorms named New Hampshire and Massachusetts -- was that the Mainers on the committee started hooting and hollering about Maine being a New England state as well. As a life-long New England resident, I know of only five states in New England: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont. I could even name their capitals for you if I had space to waste in this article. At some point, you may have heard Maine mentioned casually as a state in New England, most likely by a Mainer. Simply not true.

Maine is always whining for its piece of the pie. Maine Shmaine -- that's what I say.

It was also suggested that the housing addition be called "Roy Gebiv's Little Neighborhood" and that each house be painted a different color of the ROY G'B'V visible light spectrum: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Violet. The idea, however, was lost with the decision to reduce construction to only five houses. And to deny the witty acronym one of its colors would be like taking the UBA out of SCUBA.

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