Two Bryn Mawr Vignettes

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Questions, Intuitions, Revisions: Storytelling as Inquiry

2005 Web Report

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Two Bryn Mawr Vignettes

Sarah Vogel

(Or: "Why Finals aren't Really that Bad if You Put Them in Perspective.")

Try to Keep it in the Generation

I had my apron folded down, half-off, but I'd left my bandanna on, because retying it is a pain without a mirror around. Dinner was something sketchy involving fish, so my tray had a plate of pasta, an attempt at a salad, and whatever deliciously unhealthy pie was being served at Rhoads that night; once I looked at the nutritional facts on one of those, and you don't even want to know. Jessica had already pushed two tables together for all the dining service workers to sit at, so I plopped down at the end of the nearest one, the end farthest from the supers, 'cause they make me nervous.
"A friend of my old boyfriend goes to some university around here, anyways, they're like twenty years old."
I glanced over at the girl, whose name I could never remember. Some other people were making "finish the story noises" and I nodded. What was this twenty-year-old friend up to?
"Anyways, this friend's engaged to like a 40-something-year-old man with two kids."
"Wha!" someone said, and the rest of the table agreed. "Sk-e-e-tchy!"
The girls who hadn't been paying attention looked up. "Huh?" one asked, "what's sketchy?"
Everyone who had heard the first time was busy enjoying the weirdness. "Is this friend a guy friend, who's engaged?" someone asked, but the girl with the old boyfriend with the friend said no, it was a girl friend.
"Now that would be a really alternative lifestyle!" I laughed.
"What's sketchy?" someone persisted. The girl who had told the story got up to get ice cream, even though it was a strange flavor, like Pecan Praline or whatever, because she knew that the best way to keep the limelight was to leave people hanging a bit. Someone else answered.
"Some twenty-year-old's getting married to a 45-year-old with two kids!"
The storyteller was back so I asked her "how old are the kids?"
"I dunno, like 12 and 15, or something." She looked satisfied with our expressions.
"That girl is closer to the kids than the dad!"
"She could wait a few years, then marry one of them!"
"Imagine going to school and having a teacher or someone ask you 'how old are your parents?' and you'd be like 'well, my dad's 45 and my mom's 20.'" The person who'd imagined this scenario wrinkled her nose. "I'd wouldn't marry some old guy just because of that!"
After a little more fuss the scandal died out, but the general agreement was that it is better to go to Bryn Mawr College than to marry a middle-aged man with kids.

Half a Pet isn't Better than No Pet

I was picking at my food again. Not to give you the wrong idea, the food in Rhoads is way better than Erdman or Haffner, but it was kinda early for dinner. We eat before work, a little before 5 pm, and about on hour before I feel hungry. Anyways, somehow we started talking about tragic pet accidents. I perked up, and abandoned my lettuce. I like animals.
" we got back from vacation, and the neighbor lady starts yelling at us about how she's going to call the ASPCA on us. We were like 'what?' but then she says she heard our cat yowling in the garage, so she went over, and used the key we left her to get inside, and she found our cat trapped partly under the garage door!"
We laughed. "Sucks to be the cat!"
"Yeah," the girl continued, "but she was okay, just her paw got squashed when we closed the garage door on it on our way out, I guess."
There was a lull in the conversation, then, "Pet hamsters are the worst, though," a girl volunteered. We made "we're listening, go on" poses, and she did. "I had two hamsters when I was little, a male and a female, well, they were both supposed to be female but one started humping the other one day and then they had babies, so we knew one was a boy. They ate the babies, though. Sometimes hamsters do that. Anyways, they had this little hamster ball, you know the woven straw cocoon?" We did. "I was cleaning out their cage one day, and I saw the female's rear poking out of the ball. I tried to get her to come out but she wouldn't move, so I tugged on her butt a bit to pull her outside." She paused dramatically. "Maybe I shouldn't tell this story while you're eating..."

I urged her to continue.
"...Well, only half of her came out!" There was a pause while we digested this.
"That's disgusting!"
"What happened?"
"Apparently, the male hamster had eaten off the front half of her body. He must have gnawed right through her middle. Well, I guess it's obvious that I was a bit upset about only getting back half a hamster..."
"No kidding!" we agreed. I slightly regretted not waiting until after dinner to hear this story, but it didn't stop me from leaping at the next one, when our unfortunate hamster-owner paused, then said:
"...still, it wasn't as bad as the kittens."
There were only a few minutes left before the dining hall opened, so we all filed into the dish room to deposit our trays, and then trailed over to the sinks to re-disinfect ourselves. I tagged behind the girl with the hamsters and kittens. "What happened to the kittens?" I asked.
"Well, my dad was mowing in the backyard one day, and he accidentally ran over a nest of baby kittens."
Everyone tried to look busy while staying in earshot. "Did the kittens survive?" someone prompted.
"Mostly. I think two of them were fine, and one of them recovered eventually, but at least one was definitely too injured and it died."
We then had to split up and get to work before a supervisor yelled at us, but it was clear to everyone that it is far better to go to Bryn Mawr than to be half a hamster, or to be a lawnmowered kitten.

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