When I was five I had a tendency to say precocious things. I once gravely told my preschool teacher, “February is the longest month.” A lot has changed since then. My teachers are no longer indulgent enough to humor melodramatic fallacy. And I’ve discarded the wisdom-beyond-my-years act in favor of an extended adolescence.
But one thing remains the same: February is the longest month.
You might remember Yale’s admissions viewbook and its apparent use of black-and-white photography. What the people at 38 Hillhouse don’t want you to know is that any picture taken between the months of October and April was actually taken in color. You just couldn’t tell because that’s when Yale becomes a slushy and gray gothic wasteland.
My former residence in a state having seasons more elaborate than “cold and wet” and “hot and humid” taught me that winter spans the months of December, January and February. But in the New Haven the season begins with the last minute of the Game and lingers until we emerge, blinking and mole-like on the morning of Spring Fling. February is moored in the middle of the winter doldrums, months from both memories of a warm autumn and any hope for springtime frolicking.
Wet snow, gratuitous use of sand and erratic shifts in temperature make anything more than the bi-weekly trudge to class an exhausting prospect. The less-than-stellar performance of that groundhog from Punxsutawney a few weeks ago didn’t help things. I wonder if he would still be able to see his shadow from the vantage point of a pan of General Tso’s Winter-Prolonging Rodent.
The problem with Yale that is we’re victims of an immobilizing strain of social dysfunction. Most of us find engaging in youthful indiscretion challenging enough without the added impediment of depressing weather and malevolent temperatures. Contact with cold air turns the usual Yale attitude of disaffection into bitter cynicism.
Even the cheeriest people have succumbed to inertia of February despair. The same tiresome lamentations surface over and over, reminding me of one friend’s brilliant observation: “My life is a fugue.” Dining halls, dating (rather, the lack thereof), excruciating parties, rooming draws, seminar applications — every complaint is just a new permutation of previous ones.
But frankly I’d rather be a disenchanted Yale student than a content anything-else. We don’t go to Arizona State. It is our destiny to be untanned and slightly flabby. But we also don’t go to Harvard. That’s enough reason not to be miserable.
Yale is not a perfect school. I’m tired of toasting my feet on a clanky, misanthropic radiator and pretending I’m really at a beach. I’m tired of the people in section who keep doing all the reading and revealing the rest of us for the slackers we are. But mostly I’m tired of spending the winter months waiting for something fun to happen while the rest of this campus pulls its covers over its head.
There’s at least six weeks left of winter of the New Haven variety, but these 28 days are nearly over. Don’t watch them crawl by from a $30,000 hamster wheel of grumpiness and whining. Until Spring Break surfaces, feign some enthusiasm and make the best of it with me.
Have cinnamon toast at dinner. Harass the opposing goalies at this weekend’s hockey games. Ask for someone’s phone number. Go to a polo match to pet the horses. Marvel at the life-size Giant Squid hanging in the lobby of KBT. And please, invite me to Feb Club already.
Sarah Merriman is a junior in Pierson College. Her columns appear on alternate Thursdays.