May 3, 2011

#8. Streak Across the Arts Quad

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I’ve walked Cornell’s campus wearing clothing hundreds of times … so I thought I should mix it up and do it without my threads. Plus, Will Ferrell did it in Old School; I had to follow suit. I think the last time I ran around naked in public, I was less than a year old and probably on a beach somewhere. If you’re one of the three people who don’t personally know me reading this column, the act of indecent exposure is really not my style. Flashing your goods for Mardi Gras beads or a “Wet T-Shirt” prize? No thanks. That said, I think streaking is in a different category of humor and class. Or, at least, that was my pitch to my friends when I was recruiting partners-in-crime.

Although Will Ferrell was fine to go commando by himself, flying solo was not an option for me. Streaking alone seemed somewhat disturbing and weird; I would have felt creepy and self-conscious rather than liberated. Propositioning my friends to all run around naked together was met with laughter and agreement … until they realized I was completely serious. It was harder to sell people on #8 than any other 161 task. Excuses included, but were not limited to:

1) “Someone might see us!” Well, yes, Sherlock … that’s part of the thrill.

2) “Oh, I have a sunburn on my back … it would make it uncomfortable for me to run…” I’m not sure what a sunburn has to do with running, but points for creativity.

3) “It’s too cold!” Okay, it’s May and you survived four Ithaca winters. Don’t be a wuss.

4) “Uh, I mean, I won’t get naked but I’ll come watch.” What? Oh … you’ll gladly be a peeping Tom. What an offer!

A clear stipulation was that if you were to join the adventure, you had to streak. You could not come to voyeuristically watch the event. That, too, would have been creepy and weird. After I initially planted the idea a few weeks ago, I realized that the execution would need to be a balance of spontaneity and planning. Last Thursday was a warm, clear day so the weather was solid leverage (and a defense against popular excuse #3) and I texted my friend C who had previously given me her word she’d be down for streaking. That evening, sitting with a group of friends in our kitchen, I declared that C and I were going streaking … join or be lame. Surprisingly, there was more interest than when I had first suggested the idea. We planned to head to the Arts Quad after the Collegetown bars closed at 1am in the hopes that there would be limited campus traffic in the wee hours of the night.

Since I subscribe to the Boy Scout motto “be prepared,” I may or may not have worn a mini-backpack out that night with a pair of sneakers in tow. The small backpack raised some eyebrows, and invited questions about my purse-of-choice … but I’m not here to be the next cover girl of Vogue. The sneakers also served as an insurance policy. If someone I liked enough asked about the backpack, I admitted that I intended to go streaking later that evening and maybe even extended an invite. You can’t talk a big game and then have nothing to show for it. That’s weak. Furthermore, I generally detest any sort of handbag, and dragging around this backpack all night would have been especially irritating if it didn’t serve its purpose.

In the wake of the exodus from The Palms, I stood outside CTP, our determined meeting place. C and K were ready to rock, but unfortunately, several other alleged streakers were missing in action. Despite mass texts, some of the initial energy had dissipated over the course of the night. To be expected. Their loss. So, yes, then I changed into sneakers and C, K and I began the trek up College Ave to Ho Plaza.

By the time we got to the Arts Quad, it was around 1:30 a.m. and we were reminded that Thursday night is still a school night — Olin and Uris were relatively busy for the hour. Though we were initially going to start in front of Olin, the Libe Café windows were a little too close for comfort. Instead we headed over to good ole’ A.D. White, who resides in front of Goldwin Smith Hall.

And then we just went for it, de-clothed ourselves … and ran directly across the quad to Ezra Cornell. It was pretty exhilarating. Though someone yelled “Oh yeah!” from a distance, it was sufficiently dark outside and I think the only people who bore witness to the event were Andrew and Ezra. When we reached Ezra, we sat on his platform for a second, reveling in the adrenaline rush. We then put our clothes back on just in time for an influx of students exiting the libraries. Streaking across the Arts quad — where I have spent much of my time at Cornell — was a fitting experience to close my involvement with the Big Red Ambition column. As such a classically collegiate activity, streaking post-graduation wouldn’t have quite the same effect.

As a final 161 plug: This column encouraged me to explore so many aspects of Cornell life that I never would have been inspired to investigate otherwise — from milking cows to trespassing secret tunnels. The 161 List served as the impetus for some of my favorite Cornell memories. I’d like to thank everyone who joined the Big Red Ambitioning quests, making the experiences infinitely more valuable (especially C, K, H, N and H, who were always up for 161 nonsense). Whether or not you find the 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do inspiring, silly or otherwise, I encourage you to create your own college bucket list. If you have three years left at Cornell or three weeks … take advantage of everything this university and town has to offer. Oh, and in the rare chance you remember … yes, I’ll be breaking out my shovel on Friday to complete #21. Bury a bottle of Bacardi on the Slope. Dig it up on Slope Day.

Original Author: Eve Shabto