Sep 22, 2011

Shawnee Trip I - Much Ado about Nothing

Sewa walks into a room where Dan is chatting another person. Soon, other people walk in.

Tricia: Hi, I am Tricia.

Everyone introduces themselves.

Tricia: Ok, let me try to remember. Dan, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia. Dan, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia. Dan, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia.

Melissa, Dylan, and John walk in.

Tricia: Ok, let’s get started again. John, Dan, Dylan, Melissa, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia. John, Dan, Dylan, Melissa, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia. And I’m sure I am going to forget it all by the weekend.

Kensie: I hope you are not gonna be like this all weekend.

Grant: Let’s get started, I am Grant, one of the GA’s.

Tricia: Ok, Grant, John, Dan, Dylan, Melissa, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia….

Grant: Please introduce yourself. State your name, major, what year you are, and whether you like your toilet paper rolled off the top or the bottom.

Dylan starts, to general laughter: I’m Dylan, and I like it to roll off the top. The bottom is so weird, you have to reach under, and stuff…

Dan: Dan, I like it on the top as well.

John: John, top.

Tricia: I am Tricia, and I just like it to roll whichever way it’s easier.

Many people: Which direction does it roll? Up or down?

Tricia: Umm, umm…

Many people: Yea that’s the top.

Tricia: Ok, the top, yeah.

Kensie: I’m Kensie, and I like it from the top as well.

Sewa: I’m Sewa and I’m the only person who likes it from the bottom.

Dylan: We don’t know that yet, we haven’t finished going around.

Sewa: True.

Sean: I’m Sean, and I like it from the top.

Sewa: (Yes, I am still the only person who likes it from the bottom.)

Melissa: Melissa, I like it from the bottom.

Sewa: (Yay, finally!) Hi five!

Grant: I am Grant, and I like it on the bottom as well. If it’s on the top, it just rolls on and on…

Sewa: (Did I just remember everyone’s toilet paper preferences and forget their majors? Yes I did.)

Brandon: I’m Brandon, I like it from the top.

Jason: I am Jason, and I don’t have any preferences. As long as it rolls, I mean, it’s better than oak leaves or tree bark or something.

We laugh.

Jason: And if you ever have to use tree bark, remember; go with the grain, not against the grain. With the grain, not against the grain. Snow works great too.

Brandon: Yea, it’s cold and really wakes you up in the morning.

Grant: Now that that’s done, we should get back to the instructions. Remember to bring everything you need, remember your medications; we will have some of the things but not everything….

Tricia: Will you have a first aid kit?

Grant: Yes.

Tricia: Great, coz I am accident prone.

Grant: You are wearing a helmet.

Kensie: And knee pads as well.

Grant: About clothes, don’t pack your entire closet, don’t bring 5 pants and 6 tops. One long pant, one pair of shorts, that’s it.

Sewa: Boohoo L

Grant: But if you want to pack a nice shirt for dinner, that’s ok.

Sewa: (Great, you nearly had me depressed!)

Grant: Bring your toiletries, but again, not the entire bathroom. There won’t be a shower. Yes, we will stink, but we will all stink together.

Jason: You can bring baby wipes instead.

Dylan: Will we have a campfire?

Grant: Yes, we will have a campfire but not a bonfire. And about the tents, remember, no purple tents.

Sewa: (Huh?)

Grant: Girls in pink, boys in blue, no purple tents.

Sewa: (Hmmm)

Grant: You can bring your foam pads; you can bring your blankets, but don’t bring your huge air beds. The air goes out through the night and everyone kind of falls into the center, and you will wake up cuddling with a person of the same sex. And believe me, that is NOT what you want.

Brandon: Yeah, we want to make close friends here, but not that close.

Grant: We will be stopping for lunch on the way.

Tricia: If I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, will people have them?

Everyone: Wow!!!!

Tricia: Grape or Strawberry?

Kensie: Grape

Unidentified Person 1: Strawberry

Unidentified Person 2: Strawberry

Kensie: Grape

Unidentified Person 3: Strawberry

Unidentified Person 4: Strawberry

Kensie: Grape

Tricia: Ok, Ok, if I make half a dozen of each, will people share?

John: You are just too kind.

Sewa: (O Tricia, we are so lucky to have you!)



Anonymous said...

This is a different kind of post. I can clearly see your emotional involvement--and that's a great element in blog writing.
But I'd like to comment on something specific: color coding, getting too close with a person of the same sex, and taking the right things only. Color coding of the sexes really bothers me because it not only reifies sexuality/gender in ways that can feed into homophobia: What color do the rest of the spectrum of human sexuality and gender adopt? While people may have their own justifications, I'm also bothered by color coding because this attitude considers one culture as the norm/natural thing. What if there is a Nigerian in the group who gives a damn to color coding?
Same thing with getting too close: it is essentially homophobic (one could argue it's not intended; but tell me where to put my gay friend), it is culturally insensitive (tell me what happened to cultural diversity), and it also just takes the essence out of travel and adventure. I have lived in different countries and don't subscribe to one culture or another as better (I think we shouldn't take any cultural value system for granted when people with different cultures, sexualities, etc, etc may be in the group).
Now let me add an interesting thing about another culture (e.g. Nepali) would work in this kind of situation. 1. Traditionally, men and women (and not the same sex) are not supposed to mix, but when it comes to travel (especially crossing a river), sickness/oldness, or any emergency, the rule is automatically suspended (e.g., you can carry your sister-in-law across the river, and old people still use that as a metaphor to talk about the need for flexibility). 2. Mixing of men and women is feared because the Nepali society is stupid about sexual relationship (it only gives fathers, husbands, and the priest to determine who will sleep with whom), but because it is not afraid of same sex people in bed together and instead sees friendship/intimacy, holding each other's hands, sharing a bed/space, and such in very positive ways, apparently only good things happen (e.g., people fend the cold, manage with limited room, develop intimacy, help each other... by sharing space). You put stigma in the equation and you have binary opposites (pink and blue), fear of perversion (which includes dumping intimacy, necessity, and adversity all together into the evil box), and a monolithic cultural worldview. 3. When there is not enough of material resource, or space for that matter, people expect to share; especially when they leave home, they suspend cultural values including their bigotries (e.g., during travel, my parents used to eat at motels without asking what caste the workers were. Again, older people, while they still stink with their other bigotries, they still use this suspension of values as a virtue--which it practically is).
Finally, if adventure should be adventure, I don't know about you, but I would like to use the tree leaves instead of toilet paper (up or down be damned), I would like to wear pinkish purple pants and such (I'm a straight man), and I would if necessary sleep with other men as well as women.
Let me conclude this comment with an anecdote: Two years ago, I went to a water fun park in southern America along with my wife and another couple. After a while, our wives noticed something very odd: many people, including almost every younger child, in the crowd had been looking at me and my friend! Our swimming slacks were tight on our butts and we were seen as a gay couple. It was so embarrassing that we left early. That's what happens when you take one set of norms for granted.

NB: I don't mean to offend anyone... just that maybe we shouldn't take our ideas, cultures, opinions, and worldviews for granted--especially when necessary.

Anonymous said...

Wow... did you ever take that out of context...

Anonymous said...

I agree, whoever said this very long comment is WAY out of context. It was a university sponsored trip. Therefore, there were rules put into place. As for the toilet paper adventure thing that is called an "ice breaker" just to have everyone loosen up. And really? I mean if it came to a life threatening measures we would do what we could to be safe and then we would share a tent. We were going car camping. We had plenty of tents. And just because you might feel comfortable sharing tents with opposite sex I know I don't. I have a boyfriend and I know for a fact he would NOT like that. Just saying, maybe you shouldn't judge people so harshly.

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