The Light at the End of the Tunnel

by Tom Mandel | 3/31/11 10:00pm

I just retired as a social chair. Self-call, I know. Despite the enormous chafery that is the job of social chair, the duties of the position allowed me to be one of the few students on campus to regularly enjoy the company of Jack Stinson. Because of this, I'm on the inside of the "Social Chair Jackets" joke. And now I'm going to bring all of you to the inside of this joke. And then I'll segue to another topic. But first, the jackets.

When I introduced myself to Jack Stinson last spring, he told me that he had just ordered Stinson's jackets for all Greek social chairs and presidents. The jackets would have our house letters and position embroidered on them. Pretty sweet, right? Keep reading. The weeks went on, yet no jackets arrived.

This fall, I asked Jack about it. He said that the social chair jackets had arrived, and that he had given mine to AD's president (this never happened). Jack said that when the president jackets arrived, he would give me AD's and I could hold it hostage until a swap could be made. The president jackets never came.

(In the spirit of honesty, I should say that some jackets do exist. KDE has a couple. But the jackets-for-all that Jack talked about seemed fictional.)

I heard Jack Stinson talk about these jackets for a year. And I loved every second of it. I realized, after a little while, that the jackets were never coming. I would never experience the pride of wearing that new, sweet gear. But I kept going along with what must have been Jack's favorite practical joke, just because it was funny. You learn after a while that you do just about anything to keep Jack talking, since moments spent in conversation with him are more valuable than whatever apparel he could have thrown at me.

The jacket incident makes me think about other things at Dartmouth that simply don't exist. Things that are never coming, or are never coming back. Things that we cling to, despite their fictional nature. Four years is a long time in the life of a person, but a very short time in the life of an institution such as Dartmouth. Still, I feel that I have some credibility to talk about the things that were promised, the things that were hoped for, that were simply never going to happen. Senior Spring, everything burns:

The Indian mascot.

A way to get rid of the apparent social hierarchy of fraternities, but especially sororities.

The perfect DDS sandwich (it's like Kaiser Soze).

A system that doesn't inherently punish chem majors with bad grades and tons of work and reward theater majors with 3.89 major GPAs and no labs (I mean, I guess every class in every department could be curved to the same median, but nobody wants that).

Authentic cuisine in Hanover (I'm really sick of hearing people complain that Boloco isn't "real" Mexican food and the Orient isn't "technically authentic." I already know that. I own a map. I can see that the Upper Valley is nowhere near Mexico or China. Just let me eat my food.)

Money for all the stupid shit that students could ever possibly want to spend money on (although SIPS was good while it lasted whatup, Fahey Formal). Gender equality on campus and the solution to all gender issues. (A note to campus feminists: If you want to achieve equality, why not start in your backyard and put a men's bathroom on the first floor of Collis?)

A suitable replacement for the steak tips at Murphy's. (It still baffles me that a restaurant would take its signature, most popular dish off the menu.)

A universally agreeable solution to the problem of alcohol in college (although I respect all attempts).

A snow sculpture that looks half as badass as anything that they used to do. (Have you seen pictures of the fire-breathing dragon? Please.)

Writing that list has made me tired, and I now feel the need to take a nap.

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL is that immediately after writing this column, I found out that the AD jackets do, in fact, exist, but have just been gathering dust in the back of some closet all year. They're really sweet. This just goes to show that 1) you should never doubt Jack Stinson and 2) take everything you read in The Mirror with a grain of salt. Despite the fact that most of this column is now moot, I still like it. Deal.