For the most part, it’s great living in a college town. Or to be more precise, it’s great living in a five college town. Even though I live in the woods, I’m just down the road from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College, Smith, Hampshire, and Mount Holyoke College. From September to May, I’m surrounded by college kids.
I say living in a college town is great “for the most part” because there are, of course, some downsides: raucous fraternity parties and traffic congestion when Pfish comes to town as they did last weekend. And then there’s my favorite nuisance—group households shopping for their favorite breakfast cereal. I always seem to run into six-packs of students dawdling in the cereal aisle at Stop-n-Shop debating the merits of Cap’n Crunch versus Count Chocula. Their cogitation takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r and I’m stuck somewhere around granola impatiently waiting to get around their road block of shopping carts.
But, there are many unexpected pleasures of living around kids on the cusp of adulthood.
One is their goofiness.
I remember teaching a class at Mount Holyoke once when a young woman decided the classroom was too warm and she took off her tights one leg at a time. Simply slipped out of them. I’d never seen such a maneuver.
Then there are exuberant outbursts of youth. Around final exams, students gather on the college green and howl at the moon. Not a bad stress reliever, it seems to me.
Or pranks. One time I entered a stall in a women’s restroom near my department office and found all the interior doors removed. Just one long row of toilets. Pretty funny.
And graffiti. There’s a particular light switch in the library that has an official warning posted above it. “Do Not Turn On.” Someone has scrawled beneath it “I try. Lord knows, I try.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of students gathered on the shoulder of the road. Then I watched as one young woman tore out, running as fast as she could in the grass by the road. The other students were wildly cheering her on and pumping their fists in the air.
“What in the world?!” I thought.
Then, another kid set out dashing and another.
Suddenly it dawned on me.
They were trying to “beat the clock” and see if the radar sign would register how fast they were running.
You gotta love it.
What better way to spend a sunny autumn afternoon than to release your inner goofball?