Everything They Say is True

by Amie Sugarman | 10/29/04 5:00am

The temperature actually drops into the 30-degree range at night, hordes of old people flock to watch dying leaves fall and more than two students can be seen studying in Novack on Saturday nights. Not only are we currently in the thick of fall foliage and midterm season, but we have actually arrived at the biggest weekend of the Fall term.

Homecoming weekend truly is one of the highlights of life at Dartmouth. Not only is there a Friday night bonfire to pump us up for what will hopefully be a close football game, but there is a sense of unity that permeates the campus throughout the weekend. Plus, there are tons of parties. If the '08s out there think that they have partied hard thus far, just wait for the extreme debauchery during the four nights of Homecoming.

This weekend marks Dartmouth's 117th bonfire event, but more importantly, it marks my second. I can still vividly recall the throngs of freshmen running and screaming through the campus toward the towering bonfire; the overpowering aroma of the fire as smoke obscured my vision; the masses of policemen in riot gear who seemed so comforting, with their night sticks; thousands of upperclassmen appearing to at first cheer on the freshmen, but actually trying to persuade us to run in the wrong direction and touch the flames. Oh, such a sense of togetherness.

As I eagerly await the start of this weekend, I feel a pang of sadness that I can't run around the bonfire. Well, since I do look like I'm 15 years old, I could easily get away with donning one of those highly fashionable "08" shirts and joining the freshmen, but I feel like that might be a bit excessive on my part. So, as a sophomore, I will be relegated to the outer circle of upperclassmen who idly taunt the freshmen.

I must admit that sophomore standing has its perks, as I can now attempt to exert influence over the direction in which the '08s run around the bonfire.

I also have a better sense of which parties will be the best. The lack of unpredictability about the whole Homecoming weekend experience, though, is somewhat saddening. I remember the unabashed eagerness in my tone as I quizzed my UGA for advice on how to avoid death by bonfire burns. From my perspective, although there is no degree of utter newness to the weekend, I feel almost like a mother duckling sending her young off into the wild. Well, not really, but it should be interesting to see how many freshmen get trampled and arrested.

Out of the goodness of my heart, I have decided to bless all of you '08s with a little bit of Homecoming wisdom in my old age.

First of all, don't get too drunk before the bonfire. You need to be cognizant of the police swarming around the students and the upperclassmen coercing you to touch the fire and trying to actually push you into it (I thought that was a myth; but upperclassmen actually try this; and freshmen from time to time have been known to actually listen to them).

Second, don't wear much clothing to the bonfire. It may seem cold outside at a near-freezing temperature, but just remember that you're going to have to run 108 laps around a broiling fire.

Which brings me to my third point: you don't actually have to run 108 laps. No one is counting except for you, and you probably won't even be counting. But do as many as you can; you're only a freshman once.

Fourth, only run in the wrong direction around the bonfire if you get a group of 10 friends to run with you to clothes-line the rest of your unsuspecting class. If you try to go it alone in the wrong direction, you will be the one to get knocked over and ridiculed.

Fifth, make sure to party as hard as you can this weekend. Once the big weekend is over, the party scene unfortunately goes way downhill for the remainder of the term, even if you try valiantly to revitalize it.

Finally, watch where you put your jacket; believe me, people like to steal those suckers, especially during big weekends.

I wish everyone a very happy Homecoming. I hope that everyone is still alive and filled with tons of ridiculous stories by the end of the weekend -- because that is the real essence of Homecoming: crazy times (both those you remember and those you don't).