Exclusives: Raising Kate
PAW web exclusive column by Kate Swearengen '04 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The big cheese and the big to-do
A gala night, lights, dancing, and what are those hors d'oeuvres
By Kate Swearengen '04
On Friday night at the
installation dinner for President Tilghman, the first thing that
caught my eye was a three-foot sculpture of the Princeton seal.
It appeared to be made out of cheese, and the Latin motto was spelled
correctly. As the sophomore class president put it, "You know
Princeton, and you know that when Princeton plans this kind of thing,
they don't mess around."
They sure don't.
What can you say about
an event that calls upon the talents of every scaffold builder,
lighting technician, and a cappella group within a 30-mile radius?
An event, not involving beer or football, that motivates alums to
don lurid orange blazers? An event that can draw graduate students
from the subterranean depths of Firestone Library? Even my economics
preceptor showed up.
Well, the dining halls
were closed for the occasion. And not everyone has unlimited credit
at Hoagie Haven.
It was 6:45 when I reached
Weaver Track, which had been transformed by the addition of peaked
white tents. Multicolored lights bathed the surrounding buildings,
and hundreds of people milled about, clutching plastic plates and
soda cans. From the looks of it, Princeton Gaudy seemed to have
won out over Semiformal as the dress code option of choice. The
only exceptions were among the female members of Princeton's Class
of 2005. I swear that one of them was wearing a prom dress.
By the time that I had
made my way to the interior of the stadium, the Katzenjammers were
taking the stage. As Princeton's premier a cappella group performed,
I grabbed a handful of hors d'oeuvres from a nearby table. BouchÈs,
I think they were called. They looked like miniature chef's hats,
and tasted like cream cheese. They also merely whetted my appetite,
an experience that must have been shared by many of those in attendance.
Because, by the time President Tilghman appeared, the big crowd
was in Jadwin, stuffing their faces with heavier fare. Memo to those
in positions of authority: in 30 years, when it's time for another
installation dinner, keep the main courses close to the stage.
But the fact that she
was greeted by a small crowd did not deter President Tilghman. Accompanied
by the enthusiastic, if unmelodic, strains of the Princeton Marching
Band, she thanked those who had made the evening possible. Nearly
blinded by the dazzling lights that shone in her face, and looking
understandably bewildered by the cheerleading team's sudden materialization
on the stage, President Tilghman concluded her acknowledgement speech.
As the onlookers applauded our new leader, the cheerleaders seized
the microphone and announced that they would be performing the "Tilghman
Train". They chanted "Sis sis sis, boom boom rah, gooooo
Tilghman!" Then they formed a pyramid.
"What the hell?"
"Is this really
happening?" My friend Laura asked.
said my friend Mike. "Alright. This is great."
As the cheerleaders
exited the stage, it was announced that Mary Chapin Carpenter would
I asked Laura.
"You don't know
who Mary Chapin Carpenter is?" she said incredulously.
"No," I said.
"What kind of music does she sing?"
"It's kind of folky,"
said Laura. "Her stuff sort of reminds me of Fleetwood Mac."
But at this point in
the evening, folk music was less appealing than food, and so Laura
and I headed over to Jadwin. We stood in line for 20 minutes behind
three graduate students, who passed the time discussing a string
quartet (overrated), Princeton's undergraduate population (illiterate),
and the probable sexual orientation of a mutual acquaintance (gay).
a caper?" I asked, as I perused one of the dishes. One of the
graduate students overheard me.
"Did you hear that?"
he said to his friends. "She doesn't know what a caper is."
I wanted to tell him
what a big loser he was, but I didn't. Because when you've got four
different kinds of ragout to choose from, who wants to fight? And
besides, with the swearing-in of a new president, I was in a pretty
good mood. This newfound benevolence lasted through the night, and
did not dissipate even when a portly alum, swaying enthusiastically
to "I Will Survive", stepped on my big toe.
You can reach Kate Swearengen