The Season Finale: What kind of year has it been?

This has been a riveting year for politics.  Since we arrived in the fall, Congress passed the following important legislation. We suffered through months of coverage of the Republican primary only to have the candidate win that everybody would have predicted in 2009. The Supreme Court brought back the terribly productive debate about the health care law, which both sides argue fairly, eloquently, and reasonably. A bunch of hipsters sat in a park in New York demanding unlimited data plans for their iPhones (at least, that’s what I think that was about). Newt Gingrich was not elected President of the moon, or anything on earth. Also, the Republican majorities in several states passed laws mandating that women who want an abortion must first have a nine inch probe shoved inside of them to take a picture, a treatment that I imagine Rick Santorum requests on a fairly regular basis.

Here are some things that I’ve wanted to say all year, but haven’t quite gotten the chance:

Yes, you’re very enlightened. Have a sticker.

Can we all agree as an institution to stop responding to columns we don’t like by randomly combining the words classism, racism, ableism, antiferromagnetism, privilege, and anything ending in the word normative? Those by themselves are not convincing arguments to anybody—even your sociology professor, who I’d assume values independent thought more than mindless regurgitation. Buzzwords without explanation are empty of meaning; by the third one of those in a paragraph I start to sigh, roll my eyes, and contemplate changing my party registration. Here’s a tip: if your arguments make reasonable people flee in the opposite direction, you’re doing it wrong. Yes, we’re all incredibly privileged to go to this great school; take advantage of that, and try not to let yourself get so overwhelmed with guilt that you can’t enjoy yourself.

I’m totally incapable of doing a bro high five

On this I’ve improved a bit since the start of the year. I used to think that it ended in a handshake. It doesn’t. But I don’t know how every other male member of the student body learned how to perform this universal act of greeting and I missed the boat. Is this something fathers teach their sons? Or older brothers teach younger brothers? Regardless, I have no idea how to do it. I’ve moved to just doing an awkward high five, but there’s nothing more off-putting than when my fingers awkwardly brush off the other person’s afterwards. Also, sometimes it ends in a fist bump; sometimes not. If you attempt this with me, don’t be surprised if I pretend that you just want a normal high five or a handshake.

Go/menu is a lie

Scalloped potatoes are my favorite type of potatoes in the world, and my fourth favorite thing offered by the dining hall. Once every three or four weeks the menu at Ross will promise that scalloped potatoes are on the menu. This is a lie. I’ll invariably drag my friends to Ross, get there, find mashed sweet potatoes or smashed potatoes, which as far as I can guess are mashed potatoes when you can’t be bothered to remove the skin. At this point I will throw a minor hissy fit and go to the Grille.

Note to dining hall staff: I understand if you don’t want to make scalloped potatoes. I’m sure it’s a pain, and they definitely made me sick during finals week last spring. But please, please don’t torture me by falsely promising their existence.

Also, for the love of God, please don’t turn off the Orange juice at 10am.

Now for some shameless self-promotion

I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody who’s read my columns this year. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. If you’ve ever read one and thought, ‘these are too short and suffer from an extreme lack of violence,’ it’s your lucky day! I’ve written a spy thriller, The Men Behind the Curtain, that I’m very proud to announce is now available for purchase in paperback or in electronic form from Find out more about it there or at my new website, It’s awesome, I promise.

I’m going to be in Australia next fall—entirely skipping my least favorite season—but mostly out of fear that I’ll be replaced by somebody less obnoxious, I’ll be continuing this column and my sporadic coverage of the exhilarating clash between Obama and that awkward Mormon guy. You stay classy, Middlebury.



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