Sometimes life at Yale throws us disappointments. This year has been no exception, and the community at large has faced problems: the DKE chanting incident, free speech issues Singapore, and of course, Pato’s Spring Fling cancellation. But deeply and resoundingly, it is time to reckon with the reaction to Yale’s harshest and most-criticized disappointment of the year. I speak, of course, of tofu apple crisp.
To be fair, tofu apple crisp gets an unfairly bad rap. Granted, the crisp itself is mediocre: hardly the delectable, melt-in-your-mouth-simultaneously-buttery-and-crumbly-and-appley-and-crispy dessert that my aunt has been known to make. But, judging from the volume of complaints about the concoction, the mediocrity of the crisp does not seem to be the problem.
Sure, we could vilify Yale Dining for ruining what would have ordinarily been only a mediocre dish to begin with. But tofu-haters take heed: tofu is one of those unique foods that has minimal flavor of its own, but instead absorbs the flavors by which it is admirably surrounded. Furthermore, the average tofu exists in self-contained, easily-removed chunks. Remove the chunks, and voila, your tofu crisp is mediocre once more. No harm, no foul.
Or you could appreciate that Yale Dining, in true doting-mother fashion, was only trying to add a little protein, a little nutrition, benignly and unobtrusively. Looking at life in a “glass (of tofu apple crisp) half-full (with love)” way seems healthier and happier. But pessimism seems easier, and at times, seems wiser. The world is a dangerous place, so believe in and prepare for the worst, right?
Yet, speaking from personal experience, when I believe the worst and truly convince myself that all of my fears will come true, I am generally miserable and perhaps even crazed. For example, I am afraid of spiders. Specifically, I am afraid of spiders biting me and killing me and then devouring my entire body and then moving on to my roommate. Rationally, I think that most if not all spiders in Connecticut are not poisonous. But anyone who has heard my bloodcurdling shrieks in response to a spider, no matter how microscopic, will attest that my finely-honed rationality disappears. I automatically believe that the worst is quite possible and that I am about to die a very painful and embarrassing death.
It’s an unfounded, unhelpful and above all silly type of pessimism. I am pessimistic with regard to a whole range of fears, some of them silly and spiderous and others slightly deeper and darker — like the idea of dying alone and that whole end-of-the-world-in-2012 thing.
And when I believe that the worst is to come, I make silly and irrational decisions. Like screaming bloody murder when confronted with a tiny spider, when really I could just leave the room or grab a tissue (except I don’t like killing bugs, I really don’t. But I don’t mind it if a strong, handsome, brave young man comes to my rescue and does the dirty deed — those looking to win over my affections, take note).
But in the grand scheme of things, it’s better to think that the worst won’t come true. That baby spider doesn’t look like it has enough poison in its body to drag this body to the ground, and even if it does, then it definitely does not have enough room in its stomach to eat all of me, let alone my roommate. And I will not die unloved and alone — I will have at least ten cats, and Whiskers through Tigger will love me with all of their tiny feline hearts. Also, even if I never fall in love and get married and have children, families come in all shapes and sizes. I plan to have a family, no matter what that means.
And in other cases, should everything go wrong, there really is nothing to be done about it. And as for Nostradamus being a jerkface and not letting me live past the age of 22, well, there’s no point in thinking about it. We’re all going to die anyway — 2012 or some other time — there’s no sense in sitting around moping about it.
This year at Yale hasn’t been all puppies, sunshine, healthy sexual environments and delicious apple crisp. But that doesn’t mean that the worst is yet to come. To treat these incidents as omens of darker Yale times to come would be a mistake. Disappointments are a part of life, and preparing for the worst is smart and responsible. But actively believing that the worst is going to happen is a recipe for sadness and craziness. At least, it’s an attitude that always makes me slightly more sad and slightly more crazed. I am excited for next year at Yale, my senior year, and still hoping for the best.
So maybe Yale Dining is trying to poison us. But personally, I’m going to strive to think of the tofu in tofu apple crisp as little chunks of love.
Nina Beizer is a junior in Berkeley College.