Tuesday, November 17, 2009

magical memories - themed dinner nights at Cal

This probably counts more as an "amused memory" as opposed to a true magical one, but when I was remembering and thinking about it, I did have some realizations about how habits and inclinations present then are still in evidence now. And it was pretty memorable at the time in any case.

I think I've already mentioned that when I went to Cal, I actually lived in a dorm of another college, in a nearby city. That college had one extra dorm building available, so they rented out that space to Cal since Cal was notoriously lacking in student housing. Well, that meant that the Cal students kind of congregated together, and the students from the other college congregated together, and with a few exceptions, this was also true in the dining room during meals - Cal students sat and ate with Cal students and other college students sat and ate with other college students.

Well, the college made a couple of attempts to try to get the two groups to mingle, and these manifested themselves in the form of themed dinner nights. They'd pick some unifying food topic - like Mexican, for example - and they'd decorate the dining room and have food all themed to that. They seemed to think that putting everything in a more festive mood would make everyone want to mingle more. Nope, that didn't really work.

The next time they tried this, they then handed out tickets with numbers of them. Ummm, ok, what's with that? I then found out that they were table designations - they were going to force us to mingle by telling us where we needed to sit, so that people from each of the two groups would be seated at the same table. That also meant that I and people I liked to sit with were at totally different tables.

Yeah, good luck with that.

I wasn't big on sitting at a table with people I didn't really know and also didn't have that much in common with. I was used to sitting with a number of different people at meals - not always the same people, but at least from a larger group that I knew and liked - and I liked it that way. If I got to the dining room, and none of the people I might sit with were there, I usually then just went and sat at an empty table. And really, I was in college. I wasn't a little kid anymore. I was away from home and on my own - to some degree. I didn't appreciate being told that I had to be sociable with people I didn't feel like being sociable with, and for no other reason then that someone randomly decreed it. I didn't like being forced to "make friends". So, I didn't.

A few of us weren't keen on the whole "you will sit THERE" attempt, and we noticed that some of the tables in the very back were empty, free of themed tablecloths and decorations. The dining room was never full, and there were always many more tables available than people there, so they didn't bother setting up the ones in the back. So some of us headed for those tables. And we sat together. And then when others noticed that we were doing it, they came over and sat with us as well instead of at their assigned tables, and others came by after they were done eating, just to hang out. And pretty soon, we had a group of Cal students at the bare, undecorated, ordinary tables, away from the rest of the people.

Yeah, we were rabble-rousers.

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