DERY | Take Your Headphones Off

A man seated at a nearby table during a Monday night chess tournament in my hometown spots my Big Red t-shirt and approaches me. With a finger aimed at my chest, he tells me through a crooked grin that he’s a Cornell alumnus. I tell him I’m thinking about a physics major, which is received by what appears to be a nod of approval as he quickly chimes that he was an engineer here. He proceeds to angle his shoulders parallel to mine, slip his phone out of his pocket, and swipes through his decades-old pictures as a Cornell student. I had barely told him my name, yet we were already peering into what appeared to be some of the best days of his life: him between two others holding drinks.