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Imminent CollapseWhen Smilin......

By Bill Andrews

MIT is the capital of weird happenings. I once saw a poster literally leap off the wall in the Infinite, only to be nonchalantly walked over by passersby with looks on their face suggesting, “okay that was weird, but I go to MIT so I’m cool with it.”

I’ve heard the rumors that if you go to the basement of Building 66 at night you can hear the howls of animals being tested upon. I’ve even gotten used to all the danger signs you see around here, from the elementary “High Voltage” and “Laser in Use” to the more advanced “Radiation Warning” and “Biohazard Level 4.”

Yeah, I’ve been around the Infinite a few times, baby, but last week I saw something that unnerved me to the core. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. What could it be, to have pierced my weirdness armor (+2 D&D references) so fully? A girl was smiling.

No, not at me. No, she wasn’t hot (or at least, not particularly hot). No, I’m not switching girlfriends. It was just a girl walking towards me, outside of Walker Memorial (y’know, once I heard it used to be a memorial to something besides east campus dining options), clutching her books and smiling. She wasn’t on a cell phone or talking to anyone else, and she wasn’t skipping or running joyously or anything; she just had this big wide smile on her face as she walked. It was a pretty smile, sure (I’m a sucker for smiles), but most people wouldn’t have considered it a memorable experience. Clearly it was, however.

At first, I didn’t think much of it. Okay, sure, a girl smiling on her way somewhere, probably her dorm room at EC, whatever; now, what am I going to do about this report? But, 20 minutes later I found myself wondering, curious. Why was she smiling? She looked really happy, but not exuberant, just kind of pleased with life. And, in case you haven’t noticed, that’s a pretty weird thing

I keep turning to that mystery girl and her mysterious happiness in my mind. I’m not jealous (though, of course, some part of me would like to be so happy I walked around everywhere with a big thought-provoking smile), I’m just really curious. Did she just find out she aced a test? Did a good-lookin’ dude just ask her out? Did she suddenly realize what she wanted to do with her life? What in the world could triumph over the mud and sludge that is MIT life and bring out such a radiant smile? What?

If this were real life, I would have to resign myself to the fact that I’d probably never see her again. But no, this is Campus Life, and there’s always a chance I’ll sit next to this girl in recitation next semester, or at the MITSO concert in December. And if she does, and I recognize her, what then? “Hi, I don’t mean to pry, but do you remember a Wednesday last semester when you walked by Walker and you were smiling? WTF?” That’d be pretty weird, even for an MIT student.

In fact, if she did sit next to me, and we got to talking, and I finally mentioned that smile, and she somehow remembers, and she tells me why, is that what I really want? It’s so enigmatic, now, this smile. It’s taken on mythic proportions for me, and if I find out it was just because of some mundane reason (or worse, she wasn’t smiling at all, but crying and the light hit her funny, or something) that would suck to no end. I like a few mysteries in life, and wouldn’t you know it, they always seem to involve women.

In fact, there is only one thing I would say to her, if we should ever happen to meet (or, if by some great twist of fate, she reads this column and recognizes herself). It’s not everyday that you see someone triumph over MIT. It’s good to know you can. Congratulations, and thank you.