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The official tales of a second-year has-been

A wise graduate student once told me, "Once you become a second year, they're gonna forget you ever existed."

I refused to believe such a notion could ever come true. How could they forget me, the oddball first year who lived in Brown College with no roommate? My impressions had told me that college was all about being treated to dinner, best friends who lived down the hall and resident advisors who actually listened to your woes.

But when second year arrived, it was as if the dust cleared and I was in another dimension, where the phone stopped ringing, I had to pay for dinner and no one would listen to my problems anymore.

My wise friend's prophetic statement was frightfully unraveling before my eyes. My friends from first year went to live with their "better" pals. My upperclass mentors occupied themselves with more important folks - namely, the new first years. And here I was, a jaded and joyless 19 year-old who didn't exist anymore. I was now officially a has-been.

The free fall after a first year of frolicking can be quite difficult, if not a bit traumatic. It usually begins with the scatterbrained has-been decrying the tragedy of being a third semester student as part of a not-so-well second year ritual I shall term "first-year withdrawal." The individual begins to reminisce in overdrive, playing glorious first year memories over and over.

"No more midnight runs to the Treehouse?" you maniacally ask.

"No more serenades outside people's windows?" you cry.

"No more huge workout sessions at the AFC?" you pant.

As part of the ritual, these endless questions are actually quite innocent. However, when the second year refuses to stop, he will move into a more advanced state of withdrawal. It is then that the ritual can be termed a sickness.

In this advanced state, the individual, now appearing a bit pasty and pale, makes a half-hearted attempt to adjust to his new life. "But adjust to what?" he asks. "What do second years do anyway? Don't they just fade into the background?"

The individual, if he has not resolved that dilemma-forming question, will inevitable move into the time I call "mid-college crisis." There are few reported cases of subjects reaching this stage; however, this is largely due to the fact that many first year students do not recognize a student who starts feigning them.

During this critical stage, scant reports mention that the subject start unconsciously scribbling "221 Dobie" as his current and permanent address on forms. He may deliberately start to wear the red and green key chain that carried his University ID and Crypto card, along with his other prized first-year possessions. The subject may even begin to frequent O-Hill and befriend a few of the diners. He inevitably fails to fit in though, because, in his attempt to make typical first- year conversation, he will always forget what last week's Dawson's Creek episode was.

Symptoms of the first year withdrawal may sound rare and harmless. Nevertheless, one should take extreme caution when encountering these first- year lookalikes. Not only is there really no cure, there is no stopping the spread. Since the illness has only been recently introduced to the University, there is no telling what further side effects could come from this mental malady. Reports from neighboring universities suspect that a slew of Britney Spears cardboard cutout bonfires may result from this ritual entering its most critical stages.

Don't worry. None of this happens, really. I again echo what my wise graduate friend said. Second years can't do any of these things - suffer from illnesses, wear red and green key chains on their neck or burn Britney Spears cardboard cutouts - because, well, they really don't exist.


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