Greensboro,NC: “Hi, I’ll be your host for the night,” said the student as Iregistered for my overnight visit. Annie, with her black thick-framed glassesthat complemented her dyed red hair and gray fleece, pointed to a “safesex” poster greeting all visitors to the Student Center.
Annie tookme to her dorm, an old two-story red brick house with a huge front porch and grayrocking chairs. As she opened the door, the smell of cigarette smoke and musk hitme. I almost tripped over the beer bottles. After sauntering through a large areawith a dirty shag carpet that served as the foyer, I set my belongings on herfloor. Then we headed to the dining hall.
I cruised the salad bar butimmediately saw chunks of lettuce with brown edges and decided to move on. Theentree choices were baked fish floating in water, vegetable lasagna with hugepieces of celery, and slices of turkey lunch meat baked in gravy. Deciding topass, I moved to the sandwich bar, where I created a ham and cheese sandwich andgrabbed a banana still a tinge green but with no dents.
“Oh, whereare you from in New York?” asked a student who overheard me talking. “Ijust transferred from Elmira College, so I kind of know where Amherst is,”she continued. “Never go to Elmira College. Everyone there is way toopreppy, conservative and against gay, lesbian and bisexual rights. I was in theminority for everything. Here, I can join in the majority of students who arepicketing against everything that’s wrong with our world. Most kids here areinvolved with at least two or three protests.”
After eating, wetrudged across campus to the substance-free floor in a freshman dorm for asurprise birthday party.
“Happy birthday, Sally!” everyonescreamed as an athletically built girl wearing a t-shirt and grungy jeans enteredthe lounge.
“Wow!” she exclaimed as she plopped onto the couchalready full of boys and girls lying all over each other.
“QuakerOrgy!” shouted a boy with scraggly pink hair.
Annie enthusiasticallyexplained, “By definition, a Quaker orgy is when you’re missing one articleof clothing and no body parts are touching the ground,” as she mimickedeveryone taking off their socks and shoes and lifting both feet off theground.
Returning to Annie’s dorm, we passed a corkboard on the concretepathway. She informed me, “This is where clubs post information aboutupcoming events, meeting times and guest speakers. The Vagina Monologues’ authoris coming to Guilford. I can’t wait because the play is wonderfully written andis a collection of feminist monologues meant to raise awareness about violenceagainst women.” The poster advertising the Scrabble Club meeting flickeredin the shadows of Annie’s finger. “Oh, here’s one proclaiming a rallyagainst FedEx acquiring a hub at the Greensboro Airport. That’s a reallycontroversial issue.”
I found my way to the bathroom. “You mighthave to bend your knees to wash your hair because the shower head is kind oflow,” she advised. I discovered she was definitely right. It was three feetoff of the slimy, mold-speckled floor.
“Good night. I hope youenjoyed Guilford,” she declared as I rolled into my sleeping bag, settingthe alarm for a pre-dawn hour since I had to travel to another college the nextday.
Reviewed in 2002