The Cavalier Daily
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Surrendering to sentiment

TRADITIONALLY, the graduation edition of The Cavalier Daily has held two types of opinion columns. Some people write a normal column about gun control, the honor system, or U.S.-Cuban relations. It's a way to deflate the maudlin weepiness of the graduation paper. Others write a more personal column, one that buys into the edition's sentimentality. If you've read my column before at all, you should expect the first kind. I'm too practical, too logical to be swayed by teary-eyed emotionalism. I'd never write that second kind of column.

Oh no.

Not me.

I'd never write about The Cavalier Daily newsroom where I spent both too many hours and not enough. I'd never tell the story about the time Noel read me his column over the phone while I typed it into the computer. I'd never relate the conversations I used to have with Kris, Pump, Julia and Chris while I sat on the old stump the Opinion department used to use as a chair. I'd never spend ink to tell you what Julia and I meant by "shakin' and bakin'." After all, they're just my memories. What do they mean to you?

I'd never write about the fun (yes, actual fun) I had in my classes. Why should I tell you about the time Isaac, Jeff, Charlie and I had to do a project on strychnine for organic chemistry? I wrote a sonnet and we wasted two nights in Ruffner Hall, but what does that mean to you? I'd never take the time to describe the meaning of my less than intellectually rigorous understanding of conversational implicature. I could of course, but how would that improve the state of the world, or make intelligent social commentary?

I'd never write about Washington Society meetings on Thursday nights. I'd never take up space by telling you about Jess' dancing on the grave of a sonofabitch. I'd never recount the stories of Dave's and Mike's over-the-top speeches, of Sylvija's "bust a move," of Rachel's wonderful poems, of the grief Paola shared with us. How could I take up your time by telling you how many wonderful friends I found one Thursday evening in the Chapel? What do those people, their speeches and their feelings mean to you?

I'd never write about my roommates, and the fun we had. I couldn't waste space telling you about our imperialistic plans to conquer New Lambeth. I wouldn't want to steal away your time by telling you about the massive computer battles I had with Mike, Steve and Paul. Those memories mean nothing to you.

I'd never write about Sunday night dinners with Paul and Suzanne. What's the point of telling you about my "fried" chicken and other culinary disasters? Could you understand why we took the time to cook even after the most awful Sunday meetings? Would you want to make the effort to try?

I'd never write about the beauty of Mr. Jefferson's University. The way the Lawn glows when swathed in a blanket of snow isn't something you need to read about. The feel of brick walkways under your feet, marble pillars under your fingers, and grass under your back are sensations that you already know. Does it matter that they mean something to me, also?

No, I'd never write about those things. I'm too sophisticated, too logical to be taken in by sentimentality. What you're supposed to write about in a newspaper are the things that are important, the issues that really affect people. Memories, poignant though they may be, only exist in the mind of the person who lived them in the first place. Eventually, they'll fade anyway, so why take the time to write about them? I'm prepared to head into the "real world" and leave those moments behind, so I don't need to write about them. I'm ready to move on, believe me.


(Sparky Clarkson was an Opinion summer editor and associate editor and a Health and Science associate editor. His column appeared Tuesdays in The Cavalier Daily.)