I enter the Marketplace Grill and nervously scan my friend’s p-card, as my lunch bunch dining plan does not allot me the comfort of dinner. I head straight to pizza, ignoring the nutritionist’s comment that pizza isn’t the best source of protein for every meal. Stupid.
I hop from station to station while adding piles of food to my slightly damp tray. It’s spicy tofu night. Nice. I head upstairs and decide to go into the first meeting room on the left. Even though there is a large group of people, which I quickly learn makes up the string instrument club, I sit down. Tonight I am a viola player. A girl with blonde curly hair is about to question my presence but I silently put my finger to my lips as a threat. Do not blow this. I get up and grab a cup of sparkling water (there’s no carbonation. Again. It’s just water.) and a fork. I sit back down and begin to plot. Tonight is the night. The night I take over d-hall.
I have wanted to do something like this ever since I read The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in fifth grade. It’s about this girl who decides to run away from home with her brother because she feels unappreciated. Oh, and she decides they will live in the Met. The Met as in the giant museum in New York City that holds some of the most valuable art in the entire world. They bathe naked in the fountains (as illustrated in the book…), observe art, and hide from the various security guards who are, I don’t know, to maybe keep small children from living in a museum. And then the ending just disregards the fact that these children got away with it all and are just simply misunderstood.
Side note: after I read that book, I dreamed that I lived in a museum and it came to life. Not shortly after, I saw a trailer for Night At The Museum and was rightfully PISSED. How dare they.
The club meeting is really boring. I interject every couple minutes so they think I am a real member. And to stay awake. I have a long night ahead of me. The meeting is about to end and everyone decides to meet in the same time and place next week. I will not be there. As they get up, they ask me why I am staying in the room. As if we were now friends. I tell them I am still digesting, which satisfies the musicians and prompts them to leave. I ask them to turn off the light when they leave. It helps with the digestion. Blonde curly girl does as I ask. Thank God that’s over. As I sit in the dark plotting, I notice that the wall covered in pictures of birds is very menacing in the dark. Do not pay attention. The birds will not be mocking you after tonight.
Although VERY UNBELIEVABLE, the idea of living in a place I was not supposed was alluring. What would be different when I got to see an underbelly up close and personal? Sure, the Grinnell College dining hall was not my first choice, but, let’s be honest, trying to live in the Met would be freaky as hell. I went there last winter and had to excuse myself from the Roman sculpture section after the stone cold (hah get it?) faces and penises started whispering secrets to me. There was also no way that I wanted to actually get in trouble from doing this experiment either. I wasn’t a cute literary child. I am a giant, very adult-looking man. Thus, after I ruled that Faulconer Gallery would be too boring, I settled on the Marketplace Grille. You may be wondering why any of this even matters and I want to say that is rude. Quite frankly, my youth is fleeting. I turn 20 years old in less than a month, which seems like an absolute impossibility. Who can say if I will even make it to 20? I have to complete all of my goals and dreams NOW in order to be fulfilled, which left me sitting in the dining hall listening to twelve people ramble on about their favorite Strauss movement. It’s worth it. Maybe.
Side note: My mom always told me that she believed she was going to die young, and if she was going to die young, I was going to die even younger. I went through this phase where I played “funeral” with my sister and neighbor friend where we made up funeral services for each other complete with candles, somber harmonies, and biblical rites. It was simply a game for my fellow mourners, but, for me, it was complete and utter preparation for my approaching mortal decay.
Still in the dark bird room, I begin to place the tables in front of the door. I slide each table in a row blocking the entrance. I sit down in the corner out of view from the glass panel next to the door and cool off after all the heavy lifting. I should go to the gym more. I mentally calculate the last time I went to the gym, which makes me wonder if I have ever stepped foot in that building. Is this how the science people feel about Bucksbaum? I hear the door handle jiggle. Tonight’s student custodian is attempting to enter the bird room. Out of the corner of my eye I see her look into the room, pause, and ponder if her inability to enter this “locked” room means she will get off early tonight. She shrugs her shoulders and heads over to the other room that doesn’t have birds in it. Yes. Too easy. It has worked. Good work, I say to the sparrow next to me. What wonders await.