Freshman girls -- they're everywhere, I swear to you. Pert, chic first-year lovelies: waiting in the stir fry line, strolling the salad isle, perusing the pizza; in jean skirts, tank tops, large, buglike sunglasses; exuding perfumes, floral shampoos, body lotions of melon, berry and cocoa butter. The sun is effervescent out there, but I'm in here, 1920 Commons, to dine and socialize. The staff chef asks me what type of sauce I'd like on my stir fry. I answer, "Give me all of it. Szechwan, teriyaki, sweet and sour." Because I like it flavorful and spicy.
I visit the soft drink dispenser, where I flirt with a girl and, having failed myself, escort a Cherry Pepsi to my seat at the perimeter. "It was nice meeting you," she says as I walk away. A lie, I assume.
1920 Commons is divided into seven stations (plus ice cream, salad, cereal and beverages). The entree line is popular and varies nightly. My personal favorite is the barbeque beef sandwich, a sumptuous Kaiser roll teeming with moist shredded beef. I usually avoid the rotisserie chicken, though; I've tried it twice and it was dry both times.
Adjacent to the entrees, light fare and quesadillas are always available. Hot dogs and grilled cheese are frequently offered at the light fare counter, and the quesadillas are make-your-own. The red machines are easy to operate and produce flavorful, crispy quesadillas.
Few upperclassman eat at Commons. That's why I'm surprised when, by sheer happenstance, I seat myself across from Caitlyn*, who says she, too, is a junior (like me). The meal plan is convenient, she says. She can't understand why our peers are too cool for Commons. We banter about school and, later, about Christina Aguilera's picture in the new Rolling Stone. Caitlyn calls her a slut, and I agree: Gwen Stefani is way hotter.
The west side of Commons offers pizza (and sometimes calzones), made-to-order sandwiches and a daily special. The special manifests itself in many costumes during the week. For instance, I've seen the same chicken patty marketed as both "chicken parmesan" and "chicken patty sandwich." These undercover dishes are consistently lackluster and need not detract attention from the sandwich line, which offers cold cuts with your choice of wrap, roll or sliced bread, with all the requisite condiments, made by Commons' friendliest staff members.
On another occasion, I am eating with Street staffer Jim Newell. He wishes they had pot brownies here, but I explain to him why they can't do that.
Quantity is underrated. That is why I come.** Today, like every other day, I gaze into the piles of cheap, multicolored plates on the tray before me and recount the items I have consumed. Stir fry, pizza, egg salad (sandwich and platter), cookies. Caitlyn is gone, and I don't blame her: I eat a lot and stay forever.
Having dropped my tray at the dishwashing station, I grab a few cookies for the road. On my way, one of the staffers says goodbye. "Take care now, baby." I tell her I hope she, too, has a wonderful day. I am full now; I will need to take a nap. But I'll see these people and this place again when I wake up, in a few hours. After all, it's April and I still have ten meals to burn.
*name was changed
**appropriated from an Adrienne Rich poem