Should I Go?
Never mind, I’ll find … someone like youuuuuuuu …
By Sona Wink and Grace Adee
I’ve been passed out on my laptop, cheek to keyboard. I blink the sleep from my eyes. Where am I … ? Why is the right side of my body … lower than the left side of my body … ?
Ruh roh. It’s 2:38 a.m., and I am on a Lerner Hall ramp table. I should go, right? These diagonals are disorienting. And they also look bad.
On the other hand … they tell me that Lerner’s unique architecture “facilitates informal social interactions,” and I can’t afford to say no to that. If only someone would join me for a game of foosball …
On my way to the game room, I hear an entrancing sound. Could it be the mononymous white woman of the 2010s … the sweet sounds of Adele’s 21? Reverberating through the Piano Lounge and across these glassy slanted halls? I squint up the ramp to see who could be pounding the keys at this late hour, but the air is thick with cigar smoke and the scent of biscuit grease from Ferrises past, biscuit grease from Ferrises present, and biscuit grease from Ferrises yet to come …
I claw through the smoke and approach the piano. A hazy figure takes shape … and oh my! It’s my favorite former owner of the Cleveland Browns, Alfred J. Lerner, CC ’55, semi-corporeal before me.
Hey, kid. I’ve been waiting for ya.
As I always say, you can’t beat a horse using a broken ladder. You get it, kid. You remind me of my cousin’s kid, Joey, that trickster. A real no-good son of a bitch. But he’s got a heart of gold. You get it. A troubled soul like me, I prefer this collegiate purgatory to whatever fire and brimstone is waiting for me down under.
Here, kid, I see that look in your eye. I can tell you’re thinkin’, “Hey, maybe I should leave.” But why wouldja do that? Here, join me. Come aaan! Up we go, up the ramp! To the Ferris Booth! Why do they call it a booth? Don’t ask me twice. Why’s it all ramps? Kid, you clearly aren’t getting the point!
Hold my cigar for me, will ya?
He hands me his cigar. I take a puff. I cough profusely. I thought it would evaporate? It is a ghost’s cigar, right? Unfortunately it is real and it tastes like burning shoes. Now I need some juice.
Mr. Lerner holds out his phantom hand, and I return the cigar. He floats away from the piano, but Adele continues. “Come aaaaan,” he says, beckoning me up towards Ferris. I’m about to leave, but … when was the last time I interacted “both spontaneously and intentionally” with fellow Columbians? Maybe one more ramp wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world … maybe Ferris will have juice …
I’ll be straight with you. Sometimes I don’t understand you college kids—no decency like we had back in my day.
Every morning I wake up under the foosball table, blink open my ectoplasmic eyes, and hear these kids bitch and moan about the ramps on their way to Ferris breakfast. They’re “disorienting,” they say. They “look bad.” It just about spoils my morning. But here’s the catch: They keep coming back, day after day, sauntering up those ramps to get their grubby little hands on some powdery eggs.
Back in my day, ramps were a luxury. I’ll never forget the day Ronnie Ramps first came to Little Greenfield Town, with his bag of newfangled tricks, and all the townspeople jumped with joy down Main Street—“Hurray, hurray, the ramps are here to stay!” The whole town was alight with chatter on the Great Ramp Day of 1924! Ah, how my mother swooned, watching me and little dopey-eyed Bobby from next door roll down the ramp like a couple of logs in a log factory! An innocent time.
I’m dizzy and my calves hurt. He stops me in front of one of the big Sport Team Spirit photos on the third floor, and one of the Roar-ees growls at me, unprovoked. Whoa. What’re you smoking there, Mr. Lerner?
We finally reach that one little alcove with chairs on the fifth floor. (You know what I’m talking about? Six hard chairs. No outlets. Loose meatballs on the floor. I hear it’s the new Butler stacks. Meet there for a coffee? But haha I’m flexible, no pressure, down for whatever!) The music swells, the biscuit-and-cigar aroma intensifies and the next thing I know, I’m surrounded by blinding flames.
It’s time I told ya something, kid. Those kids in the photos on the walls? The ones doing the thumbs up at the sports games and smiling in khaki shorts? They were just like you once. They’re the class of ’99, the first to walk these slanted halls. Those youngsters got too big for their britches, thought they could mock these fine diagonals. So I had to teach them a lesson in longevity.
Alfred J. Lerner takes a long drag of his cigar. “Someone Like You” grows louder, more discordant, echoing through the open corridor.
I I I I, ALFRED JOHNATHAN LERNER, GUARDIAN OF THE SOUTHWESTERN PRINCIPALITIES OF KING’S COLLEGE, BOOTH TO LOUNGE, PARTYSPACE TO ATRIUM, ASK YOU:
Alfred J. Lerner shoots several feet above the ground. His eyes burn a bright yellow and his cigar lights on fire.
DOES THIS SPACE FOSTER A SENSE OF COMMUNITY, WHERE STUDENTS CAN INTERACT BOTH SPONTANEOUSLY AND INTENTIONALLY?
IS ALFRED LERNER HALL THE APEX OF GREAT AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE?
WILL YOU JOIN THE ARMY OF THE SLANTED DIVINE?
I wake up at 10 a.m. in my dorm room with a newfound lightness in my chest. There’s something under my pillow …
It’s a Cuban cigar and a piece of Dove chocolate. I unwrap the chocolate and eat it. It’s pretty good. There’s a note written neatly on the inside of the wrapper. It reads, “Thank you.”