Sam's Little Larks

by Sam Van Wetter | 9/17/15 8:08pm

by Kate Herrington and Kate Herrington / The Dartmouth

SCENE: Collis porch. 9:39 a.m. The first day of classes. Sept. 10, 2012 and Sept. 16, 2015 simultaneously. PRESENT SAM sits reading the Valley News and eating a bomb-ass breakfast sandwich. PROTO SAM enters with a bottle of orange juice and cup of frozen fruit from the smoothie bar. It’s not what he intended to get. His backpack is unzipped.

PRESENT SAM: Your backpack is unzipped.


PRESENT: Your backpack.

PROTO: Oh, damn.

PRESENT: Kind of nuts in there before 10s.

PROTO: Is Collis always like that?

PRESENT: It gets better after like week three. As soon as the freshman learn where to stand — and to zip their backpacks.

PROTO: Why is it like that? It seems like they should remodel it and make it bigger and less confusing.

PRESENT: Oh, they will. During your freshman winter. Well, it won’t be any bigger. And in some ways, it will probably be more confusing. But it’ll get a makeover and that’s Dartmouth’s way of improving stuff.


PRESENT: You’re gonna be late for class.

PROTO: What? It’ll take like two minutes to get there.

PRESENT: You’re gonna be late.

PROTO: No I won’t.

PRESENT: We’ll see, right?

PROTO: What’s that supposed to mean?

PRESENT: I was late to my first class at Dartmouth. You’re gonna be late for class.

PROTO: Oh, damn.

PRESENT: It’s cool. It’s syllabus day.

PROTO: I should go.

PRESENT: Don’t worry about it.

PROTO: I don’t want to be late.

PRESENT: Of course you don’t. But you’re gonna be. You excited?

PROTO: I don’t know.

PRESENT: You’ll be fine.

PROTO: So, any tips from a senior?

PRESENT: You shouldn’t be late to your first day.

PROTO: But you said it was O.K.!

PRESENT: Of course it’s O.K. But you shouldn’t be late.

PROTO: I should go then.

PRESENT: No, you’re gonna be late regardless.

PROTO: [Standing] Not if I leave now.

PRESENT: Sit down.

PROTO: I don’t wanna be late.

PRESENT: That’s the thing. I was late on my first day, and you are me on your first day. So you’re gonna be late. It’s all predetermined.

PROTO: But not for me, not now. I can do anything I want.

PRESENT: You could, except that you’re a fictionalized nostalgia tool. You’re a foil through which I, an inevitably and increasingly washed up piece of senior flotsam, can reflect on his time at Dartmouth. You’re gonna let me mock the miseries and revel in the pleasures. You’re the clean-cut little thing that I used to be and, even if you don’t want it, you’re gonna end up me in just a couple of years.

PROTO: [Sitting] Oh, cool.

PRESENT: It’s pretty great.

PROTO: So, like, we’re good.

PRESENT: How do you mean?

PROTO: Like, if I was going to my first day of classes at Dartmouth and my future self wasn’t there to talk to me and tell me I’m gonna be late then that would be a little, you know, discomfiting. Like, I guess I’m glad to know I’ll get to class at all.

PRESENT: Good point.

PROTO: But, even more, you’ve made it to senior year! You’re a senior! You have beautiful hair and excellent style and a generally acceptable adherence to the societal norms of personal hygiene!

PRESENT: I don’t know about that.

PROTO: But you’re alive, at least, right? And you haven’t dropped out or been forcibly removed from the school—


PROTO: Yeah, yet. And I’m sure you’ve had all sorts of deeply fulfilling experiences that have helped you better understand your interpersonal system of morals. You’re learning what’s really important. And that in turn helps you learn about and engage with the world at large. I bet you’ve met some amazing people. They’re wicked smart here, aren’t they? Like dang, makes you wonder if they — admissions — made a mistake and maybe you shouldn’t have been let in but then again you are here and, again, you’ve survived, haven’t you Sam, so you’re in! Doing fine! And why worry about what you think “deserving” means? Even if they did make a mistake — which they didn’t — it’s working out pretty well for you and fretting is a waste of time so why not just live it? You’ve made it! You’re here!

PRESENT: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

PROTO: So I don’t need to stress.

PRESENT: That’s not our style.

PROTO: Cool.

PRESENT: Anything else?

PROTO: Where’d you get that breakfast sandwich?

PRESENT: Bagel from the middle thing, cheese from the sandwich bar, avocado from Topside and eggs from Darren.

PROTO: Who’s Darren?

PRESENT: She makes the eggs.

PROTO: That looks dank.

PRESENT: It’s the pinnacle of Collis Queendom. Which you won’t achieve until junior spring, at the earliest.

PROTO: I’ll be a Collis Queen by the end of this year, probably.

PRESENT: You’ll think you are. But you have no idea. It’s predetermined, remember?

PROTO: Whatever.

PRESENT: Any other questions?

PROTO: Uh, any advice? Anything you would have done differently?

PRESENT: Yeah, of course.

PROTO: Like what?

PRESENT: It doesn’t matter.

PROTO: Of course it does. You can tell me and I’ll do it. I’ll do it better this time.

PRESENT: But then you won’t get here.

PROTO: Sure I will, predetermined, right?

PRESENT: Exactly! And if I had done anything differently then I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

PROTO: So I have to do whatever you did?

PRESENT: Yeah. Sorry.

PROTO: It’s been good, though?

PRESENT: It’s been the best.

PROTO: Am I gonna miss old Collis?

PRESENT: Trust me, you won’t even remember what it looked like.