You’re finally getting a meal with them. That friend you haven’t seen since first semester of freshman year, that perfect 10 you met last week whose Facebook page clearly indicates they’re your soulmate for life (whatever that means) or that professor you just can’t quite click with but whose approval you desperately crave.
You want dinner at Carmichael, but they opt instead for lunch at Dewick. Faced with the prospect of an awkward social atmosphere and extraordinarily ordinary food, the chance at renewed friendship, newfound love or increased prestige suddenly seems to go down the drain.
As you walk through Dewick’s doors, you put on a smile and try your best to ignore that oppressive feeling of being back in your high school cafeteria. When the two of you swipe in, you make sure to greet the Dewick ladies with a smile and candid, “How are you today?” Then you and your lunch date decide to grab seats before getting food because, let’s face it, you would probably never find them again if the two of you became separated.
No seats in the big room. No seats in the other big room. Want to try upstairs? Sure. No seats, let’s go back down. Five minutes later, you’re standing awkwardly around, still wondering where to sit while trying not to catch the eye of anyone you’re acquainted with. Hey, there’s a group getting up to leave! You quickly move to stake your claim. Never mind that it’s a round table and there are only two of you — desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Now, finally: food.
As you walk around surveying the standard splay of mashed potatoes and steak, you make a mental note to wait out the specialty night line tonight at Carm because your stomach will want compensation after lunch at Dewick. You decide on a salad today (as most college students do five out of seven days of the week), but are appalled to realize that there are no dried cranberries or cherry tomatoes to be found. You could get a pizza, since the U.S. Congress insists that’s your other vegetarian option, but, come on, Dewick pizza is really not an option.
You finally make it back upstairs with your food, but you’re missing your drink and utensils. There goes another five minutes walking up and down those stairs, like you don’t already spend enough time walking up and down the Hill.
You’re talking. Is your lunch date listening? You can’t tell because they’re distracted by something (or someone) across the room. They’re probably people-watching — because, as a matter of fact, that’s what you’re doing, too. It’s not like you can hear each other anyway over the din of hundreds of other voices. The industrial center that is downhill Dewick leaves no room for any of the intimacy and warmth that make Carm so appealing.
Brave the stairs yet again for dessert. Your usual granola option is out because only Carm has the delicious Stonyfield yogurt. Your almond milkshakes are also famously popular, but without any almond milk, how are you going to make it? And you can forget the orange Creamsicle; in fact, just settle for the orange.
Before you know it, your mealtime is up. Half of it was probably spent walking around. As you put away your plates and utensils, though, you can at least appreciate being able to throw your knife, spoon and fork into the same crate. One point for Dewick.
You decide to make a casual appeal to authority and mention that the head cafeteria worker, Anna Rico, has worked at both Carmichael and Dewick and prefers the family feel of Carmichael to the vast indifference of Dewick. Your lunch date agrees that Carm is also far superior in its variety and quality of breakfast selections. Then they ask you if you want to get dinner at Carm next week.
Score. (Unless, of course, it’s your professor you’ve been imagining this whole time.)
Menghan Liu is a sophomore majoring in international relations and economics.