In the official 2010 Bulldog Days calendar, there are 36 pages of pre-approved activities, classes, panels, tours and fairs, 84 neatly printed events offered on Monday and six welcoming bulldogs sporting hats, costumes and sunglasses.
But despite the book’s cheery encouragement to attend “events marked with a Y” and its assurance that all Yalies wanted to be our friends, we decided instead to attend an event that hadn’t received the Admissions Office’s stamp of approval: a fraternity’s Bulldog Days party. One catch, though — we weren’t prefrosh.
But, frankly, we’d lost the ability to be prefrosh. For starters, we weren’t carrying a blue Yale folder or sporting a reused university-issued t-shirt design. We also knew where to find the bathroom.
Experts, we surveyed the scene, hoping to find friends who could teach us about kids these days. But they found us first.
“Hey ladies, how’s the view from the porch?” asked one lax bro-in-training, though his look was incomplete: he was missing a backwards hat.
The view was good, if you like looking at freshly scrubbed wrinkle-free faces, awkward circles of sporadic conversation, and guys peeing in bushes.
“Fine. So where are you from?”
At Bulldog Days, the conversation never really goes much further than this, especially when you’re looking down on someone from a porch. (Advice to future frat stars: if you want to chat up a girl, at least start the pick-up line at eye level). Tired of talking about what it is like to live in New Jersey, we avoided the subject of the weather altogether and instead made our way down and into the fray.
But confronted with introductions to people desperately looking for a real conversation, our attempts to conceal our true identities quickly disintegrated. We loved talking about Yale too much. After all, these children needed guidance, and who better to provide it than us?
We also needed them; as we near the end of our freshman year, we’re seeking confirmation that we are true Yalies. We’ve left behind high school identities and have managed to form college versions of ourselves. And our successes needed to be broadcast to the impressionable students before us. We’d left the vantage point of the porch, but we still wanted the prefrosh to look up to us.
And although we’d intended to grace them with our presence for only ten minutes, we stayed three hours and left reeling from small talk about potential majors and why Harvard / Princeton / Stanford sucks.
Maybe we’d just been in the wrong place; after all, we could have gone to the Biology at Yale Mixer, or the Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream and Space Fun Bonanza with the Yale Drop Team (an undergraduate organization that flies experiments in zero gravity with NASA on jet planes and claimed to be hosting “the best Bulldog Days event in the Milky Way”).
Worst of all, we missed out on the free food at every official event: falafel, mango lassis, moosetracks milkshakes, bagels and lox, s’mores, Italian sausage, Hawaiian pizza, and a “scrum-diddly-umtious” chocolate fountain.
But at least we knew how to get home.
Before returning to our overcrowded common rooms, we couldn’t resist the draw of meeting the overambitious student council presidents at the YCC / FCC Sorbet Social, eager to find out how to continue their high school dynasties. Let’s face it: no one who came after midnight to the basement of WLH was interested in the sorbet.
On Tuesday we woke afresh, seeking to relive the glory of our prefrosh days by attending Dean Mary Miller’s Welcome Address. Within the first minute, she delivered.
“This is not a fluke, not a dream, not a hypothesis.”
We left Battell moments later, ready to be a part of the Class of 2014. (Thanks, Dean Miller!)
But all that was just gearing up: the quintessential prefrosh experience has been and always will be the Extracurricular Bazaar, so off to Payne Whitney Gym we marched, on a mission to seize every opportunity that Yale affords.
“Do you sing?”
“Do you juggle?”
“Do you dance?”
No. But we were intrigued by the Yale Espionage Society, although upon reflection we sagely decided that adding our names to yet another panlist was a recipe for disaster. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of tri-fold poster boards and the continuous roar of sales pitches, we were forced to seek comfort in stealing STAND’s rice crispy treats and hiding behind tables of organizations we already knew and loved.
We had failed again.
So thanks, prefrosh. Thanks for the memories. We loved watching you wander around in those endearing clusters, noses buried in campus maps, bonding over your mutual presidential ambitions. And though we’ve permanently left our prefrosh selves behind, we’ll happily watch over you at Toad’s come August.