My first beer at Yale: I was uncomfortably squeezed around a corner table at Naples with 10 newfound friends. The place was packed, mostly with broad-shouldered football players and skimpy tank-top-wearing freshman girls. A nervous freshman was struggling with his first utterance of the classic line “one pitcher, one slice” –slowing the rhythm of the well-oiled Naples machine: beer pizza, pizza beer, this is freshman year.
These were the Thursday nights I had heard about before I came to Yale. Everyone gains their “Freshman 15” at Naples. Upperclassmen can often be heard reminiscing about Naples nights, when being packed into a booth with fellow freshmen is as important as the beer and laid-back atmosphere.
Sadly, that place where even the potbellied Italian guy behind the counter and the cute Bakers’ Dozen boy across the room know your name, is no more. Naples has turned off its taps to freshmen.
It’s Thursday night –post Naples liquor raid — and a group of dedicated freshmen scarf down greasy pizza in a booth. The rest of the establishment is empty; only the mess of carved initials on the wooden tabletops show signs of a once-Yale hot spot.
As a result of liquor “raids,” a 75-day liquor license suspension during the spring term, a hefty fine, promised room monitors, and computerized ID checks, Naples has lost its customers. And liquor-starved, wide-eyed freshmen are beginning to accept that Naples has turned into a lifeless neighborhood pizza joint, no longer worthy of Thursday night field trips from Old Campus.
Nonetheless, freshmen have found other ways to drink.
Last weekend, Old Campus competed with upperclassmen parties with two parties of its own. Lanman Wright threw a four-floor party and rumors had it that a Bingham bathroom was harboring an obscene amount of alcohol.
Two weeks ago, my entryway –and bathroom door — was visited by a mysterious, vomiting night-time guest. After calling the physical plant twice, and finishing half a can of Lysol trying to eliminate the foul odor, I still wonder if I will ever be able to look at my bathroom door handle without thinking of that night. The class of 2005 is obviously still finding ways to drink, even with the Liquor Control Commission breathing down its neck.
That said, Yale isn’t a Midwestern state school where drinking is an institutional part of campus life.
Yale freshmen have found other, more responsible ways to entertain themselves too. For example, last weekend, my friend Brian relayed a story to me about a brawl at another local pizzeria.
A group of large, scantily-clad local women broke out in a fight late Friday night which included ripping each others’ hair, revealing black thongs, and one robust woman going after another with a golf club.
But while freshmen will be able to obtain fun in multiple places outside of Naples, the ritual of the Wall Street hang out will be missed. I have only been to Naples three times, all during the first few weeks of school, but I can look back and say that it was nice to have a place where I could relax after a week of classes and make fun of my whipped Directed Studies friends at the same time. Have town-gown relations become so strained that I have to be robbed of my right to enjoy the merriment, and blunders, of freshman year?
In the somewhat skewed words of Karl Marx: freshmen unite! It is time for a revolution against the tradition-squashing, Bakers’ Dozen boy-stealing, hard asses of the Liquor Commission of New Haven.
Sarah Weiss is a freshman in Branford College. Her columns appear on alternate Wednesdays.