It was a quarter to midnight on a weekday in early April, and all I wanted to do was purchase one last bag of pizza Combos and one last bottle of fruit-flavored snob water with my parents’ money.
“Sorry. Graduating seniors can’t bill to their bursar accounts anymore. Will that be cash or Flex dollars?” The clerk at Durfee’s stared at me, her finger suspended over the cash register. I heard the snicker of some underclassman twit standing in line.
I was unable to speak for several moments. The clerk began rearranging the display of Yale Dining Services scones available for sale to those dissatisfied with the scones they stole from the dining hall at breakfast. The scones, too, seemed to laugh at me from within their twist-tied plastic wrappers. Crinkle, ha ha no more free junk food for you, crackle.
Sneering pastries, like hot flashes and urges to listen to my Smashing Pumpkins tape, only appear at moments of extreme stress. My head began to throb as I fumbled with my wallet. Strains of an Elimidate rerun floated in from that nether region near the stairs where lost souls check their e-mail and heat up their Dinty Moore. The line behind me was getting restless.
I hardly ever use my bursar account, I wanted to scream. I’m an independent young adult and when I crave a midnight snack I always, er, almost always, pay for it myself — just this one time I was low on cash but I’m not a spoiled brat who is completely unprepared for the real world, I swear I’m not, I’m ready to graduate and I won’t even buy Combos anymore, I’ll cook my own three-course dinner from scratch all by myself every night after I graduate I promise —
“Cash or Flex, missy?”
A single bead of sweat slid down my temple.
Minutes later, I stood outside in the cool air on Old Campus, struggling to open the Combos. Suddenly the bag burst open in my hands — a dozen Combos were silhouetted against the moonlight, flying away like so many greasy, pizza-flavored angels. In a moment they were gone.
I did not try to salvage my Combos from the sidewalk. I did not even hear them crunch underfoot as I turned to walk back to the room in the Gothic ruin I will vacate in a month’s time.
Somewhere an accidental fire alarm screamed. I ignored it — Barry S. Kane’s fire drill e-mails be damned — just as I have been and will continue to ignore all the small warnings that I must eventually graduate. Durfee’s can keep their Combos.
Molly Worthen is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College.