A couple of weeks ago, I found myself walking across the Arts Quad pretty late at night again. I make the walk (read: groggily stumble) from the library or Club Duff (the cooler, hipper Duffield) late at night fairly regularly, and most of the people I see walking are all doing the same thing — heading home to grab some much-needed sleep before tackling classes the next morning.
On this particular night I was walking on the right side of the path and sort of staring at my feet. I assumed that most people would walk on the right side of the path and not the left (because that is what the American Revolution was all about), but at some point I looked up to find a rotund little man sporting a bright red strip of cloth around his arm and standing no more than three feet directly in front of me. We locked eyes, and in that moment we were eternal I remembered that I was living in the height of the famed Cornell Human vs. Zombie war of the fall of 2012. I looked around the Quad to see dozens of other students wearing identical red bands around either their arms or heads and silently walking around the paths.
I was wearing all denim (as per usual) and no red at all but still didn’t want to take any chances of this kid mistaking me for a zombie, so I said to him something along the lines of, “Hey man. I’m not playing.” I thought this would make it pretty clear that I was not actually at all involved in the game, but I was wrong and immediately after I finished explaining this to him, he pelted me with a ball of rolled up socks.
I consider myself a pretty tough kid, so it wasn’t too terribly difficult to hold back the tears that were definitely welling up from the pain of the hit. I was able to just walk away from the scene and think to myself, “Wow. That was a really weird experience.”
After a bit of reflection though, I realized that the weirdness was not limited to just my run-in with the zombie (or human … I am really not clear on the rules of the game). Weird things happen to me all the time.
A man who looked more than a little bit too old to be a student once interrupted my studying by blasting Polka music through some speakers that I guess he must have brought from home for seemingly no reason in the Physical Sciences Building. I am convinced that my freshman floor was haunted (ask anyone who lived on the fourth floor of Donlon last year — they’ll tell you that the “D4 Monster” is no joke). And finally I’m a Daily Sun opinion columnist, but almost nobody stops me on Ho Plaza to ask for my autograph (definitely the weirdest thing to happen to me).
Before you start thinking that the weirdness is limited just to me, I’ll have you know that a dear friend of mine once walked into Baker Lab 200 to find someone there projecting opera music on the screen and through the speakers passionately singing along with it. A biology professor dressed up as Darth Vader and made all of his T.A.’s dress up as Storm Troopers for Halloween. There are multiple people on campus who wear literally the same exact clothing every day. And we had a Star Wars themed career fair last spring. Yes, Star Wars themed. Cornell is clearly a pretty weird place. And I think it is time to embrace it.
Weirdness is something that we have to more than just recognize and accept. It is something we have to appreciate. There is just no intrigue to normalcy. My sincerest apologies to Warren Harding, but we all know it’s true. What do you tell your friends from home when you talk about Cornell? Do you tell them stories about how you have incredibly qualified and intelligent professors and how your school is beautiful or do you tell them about the phantom pooper running around campus and defecating at concerts? If you aren’t sure, do your friends a favor and tell them about the bandit who drops trou and drops a deuce all over campus. The weird ones are the ones that stick. The weird ones are the best.
And before you write me off as a weird engineer (you can and maybe should do that later though) look at yourself and the people around you. Chances are, you might be weird yourself. Have you ever thrown a flaming pumpkin into the gorge? It is pretty weird that we consider lighting a vegetable on fire and hurling it into a canyon fun, and there are currently dozens of charred and shattered pumpkins beneath all of the bridges. Have you ever walked to and from class in the snow uphill both ways? It doesn’t sound possible but at Cornell … it is. And that’s pretty weird.
There are a million reasons why you might be weird, but it really doesn’t matter as long as we recognize that being weird is a good thing. Embrace your weirdness. That kid who chucked the ball of socks at me was pretty weird, and now he gets to be in one of my columns. Isn’t that every Cornellian’s dream? Weirdness and weirdos shouldn’t be social pariahs. They should be campus legends. So if you have a visceral and baseless hatred of the McRib, refuse to eat anything but granola and mozzarella cheese, are convinced that you were abducted by aliens who looked just like Ezra Cornell or whatever other strange things you do, then you’re probably kind of weird. And that’s pretty damn cool.
Christo Eliot is a sophomore in the College of Engineering. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Tale of the Dingo at Midnight appears alternate Thursdays this semester.