Web Exclusives: Raising Kate
a PAW web exclusive column by Kate
Swearengen '04 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
July 7, 2002:
and the living is hard
kids just don't stop
Luke is going spend his summer mowing lawns in the suburbs of
Chicago, and that's what I like to hear. Summers should be bald
of ambition. They should be about green grassy hills, sweaty deck
chairs, and menial labor. They should smell like lawnmower exhaust,
taste like hotdogs and orange popsicles, and leave ugly yellow sweat
stains on crisp white shirts. Summer is fireworks, volleyball, and
picnics. It is baseball and cicadas. It is sun block running into
your eyes, evenings spent outside, and the constant throb of dance
beats in the background.
But try telling that to most Princeton students. Summer has morphed
from a respite from the stressful academic year into a three-month
sentence to be filled with classes, prestigious internships, or
exotic travel. Here's what some Princeton kids are doing this summer.
My friend Mike, a chemical engineering major, has a job in Boulder,
Colorado, the land of timeshares, blue skies, and millionaire cattle
ranchers. Mike is lucky to be able to pad his résumé
in such environs, and I told him as much in an e-mail. He fired
back with this response:
"This is not a cushy job. I am conducting very important
experiments. My job is to study the biodegration of toxic organic
molecules by microbes in the presence of heavy metals...not that
that means anything to you."
Mike went on to explain to me that although his dormitory room
at the University of Colorado-Boulder affords him a lovely view
of the Rocky Mountains, he is not surrounded by beauty:
"Believe it or not, I miss Princeton already. The reason
I miss it so much is because I miss the cute boys. Yes, that's right,
I said it: there are cute boys at Princeton. There is no, and I
mean no, eye candy here in Colorado."
When Mike says that he misses the Princeton boys, I know things
are really bad. The two of us were hallmates last year, and we spent
a lot of time griping about our romantic prospects in general and
"Height Flight" in particular (the mysterious phenomenon
that makes male students taller than 5'10" choose Columbia
or Yale over Princeton).
Sarah is at the University of Texas, taking courses on ethical
theories and contemporary moral problems. Texas seems like an odd
locale to learn about such things, given that ethical quandaries
there take a backseat to the Second Amendment. I told Sarah that
going to the Lone Star State to take a class about ethics and moral
problems is like going to Saudi Arabia to take a course about democratic
theory, but she seemed unperturbed. It seems that Tom, Sarah's latest
Princeton squeeze, who has extraordinarily long eyelashes and plays
the bongo drums, lives in Austin, and this may have played some
small part in her decision to study there.
But Sarah seems to be happy in Texas, and she recently sent out
an ecstatic e-mail in which she marveled at the unique culinary
establishments west of the Mississippi:
"I have eaten so much food. Texans love to eat. There are
tons of food places that just don't exist on the East Coast, like
Whataburger and Church's Chicken and Jason's Deli. I am going to
come back like 50 pounds heavier."
In a fit of masochism and self-hatred, I wrote to my friend Taufiq
to find out what he's up to this summer. Taufiq is a Woodrow Wilson
School major. He writes long, earnest letters to the Prince on behalf
of Palestinian refugees, has beautiful manners, and is a member
of Whig-Clio. He is disgustingly on track, and I knew that he would
be involved in something incredibly prestigious. I was not disappointed:
"I'm in Washington, D.C., right now, doing an internship
at the Canadian embassy. I'm working in an office that coordinates
with International Financial Institutions (World Bank)."
My friend Cate is working at an art gallery in Chelsea this summer.
"Gallery sitting," as she calls it, is a highly desirable
job that is hard to come by, but I have the feeling that no one
would have turned Cate down. She's from Nantucket, holds the knife
in her left hand when she eats, and looks as if she just stepped
out of the Gorsuch catalog. She is polite and cultured, begins her
e-mails and phone calls with the words "Hey, Doll," and
even managed to look elegant in the unisuit she wore during her
freshman year on the crew team. I asked her, half in jest, if her
gallery job would require a new wardrobe.
"I wish," said Cate. "My mom said maybe a new pair
Manolo Blahniks, no doubt.
You can reach Kate at email@example.com
You can reach Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org