Spring Shedding

by Anil Antony | 4/18/02 5:00am

I particularly enjoy spring. The air is clear and warm -- when not overcast and rainy -- and romance is in the air. The smell of fresh-cut grass, the chirping of newly-hatched birds and the sight of dandelions in bloom are just delicious. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm as much of a sucker for moonlight walks and "Ghost" as the next gal, but let's get real. The most important spring feature is the semi-annual molting, when girls at Dartmouth begin to shed layers. There's nothing quite like awaking from the dreary slumber of a New Hampshire winter to see a bevy of beauties chewing cud and burning their translucent bodies on the Green.

Everyone looking forward to this event has their own way of preparing for the few hours of direct sunlight. Many women pre-tan, much like how people pre-party in preparation for going out on a Friday night. My limited understanding of the matter is that the most common ways of pre-tanning involve using bronzing agents, UV cookers or tan-in-a-can. I personally don't understand why anyone would risk the chance of catching some communicable disease from the Hanover tanning salons, but apparently people will do anything to be brown nowadays.

You can spot these women because they are the ones who, just before spring break, are a splotchy burnt-sienna shade, like an unevenly toasted marshmallow -- going brown in spots. (That's assuming that you're not one of those people who carelessly sets her marshmallows on fire.) OK, so that's not the best analogy ever, but you understand what I mean. Speaking only for the '02 class, I can immediately think of a few people who have that cancerous orange tint year round. Of course, now it is much more difficult to tell who pre-tanned because most of the people on campus got at least some sun over break, so as not to feel left out, even if they didn't go somewhere as exotic as Daytona Beach or Destin.

The male answer to pre-tanning is the gym, because there's nothing more that John P. Meathead likes to do more than work up a sweat and then go to the Green for some good, narcissistic/erotic shirtless football, volleyball or wiffle-ball. I probably sound bitter, with good reason, because I am. For those of you who don't know me personally, I am slight of build and even less of musculature. For years I've dreamed of having washboard abs like Russell Crowe in Gladiator and buttocks you can crack a walnut between. Alas, fortune and genetics have dealt me a cruel hand, muscles no, brains maybe, body-hair yes. There's only so much I can do about the last two, but I still have approximately seven weeks before graduation, which is (using back-of-the-envelope calculations) exactly enough time to get ripped. Or at least, "ripped."

This, of course, involves exploring the gym. For me, the gym, heart of the jockocracy and voyeur's delight, has always been fruitless. No matter how long I spend curling and uncurling my noodle-limp biceps, I never see any results, except for the inability to move my appendages for the next week, if that can be called a "result." At first I thought it was a flaw in my style, so I joined the row of muscle-bound heavies in front of the mirror "watching their form," i.e. admiring their own physique and staring at the girls on the hamster wheels. Other than the pleasure of watching extremities bouncing on the treadmills, I felt nothing good, especially the unnatural crick in my neck from trying to military press while admiring myself in the mirror at the same time.

Decidedly unhappy with my lack of progress, I determined that it would be much more effective to isolate and target an unsuspecting foe, my neck. The neck, after all, is where it all begins. Clothing can make your arms, chest and shoulders look more impressive than they may really be, but there's no hiding the neck. And the pencil supporting my noggin barely qualified as a neck. So, I joined my comrade-in-sweats, Nathan, in the gym to begin the full frontal assault.

Nate has been fighting his neck for a few years, now. There was a brief period when, buoyed by frequent military presses, Nate's shoulders swelled upwards, as if harboring illusions of touching his ears. However, Nate's neck fought back valiantly over spring break, sophomore year, and reclaimed the area between the shoulders and ears. Ever since then, the war of the neck has largely been one of attrition, with small victories for each side here-and-there, but nothing solid enough upon which to build an empire.

To make a long story short, I'm not any bigger, even though I've been going to the gym for a week. However, I think I can imagine myself much larger, and that's almost enough to satisfy me. In certain situations, particularly when the light is right above me, I look really well-built, and there's even a hint of definition in my abs. The fact that it doesn't really exist is of little importance; I feel better about myself, so much so that the next time you see me on the Green I may even have my shirt off.