Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Introducing "The Official Obnoxious Tower Alumni Mooch-Off Ladder"

When I was an undergraduate member there, the Tower Eating Club was different. Today it is known for attracting the Triangle Club, Woodrow Wilson School Majors, and other dramatic types; back in my day the Club mostly consisted of the Jai Alai team, members of the Gentlemen Hat-Maker’s Society, and Jingo!, a now-defunct dance troupe specializing in the Lindy Hop. Tower—or “Touwre,” as it was spelled back then—wasn’t even at 13 Prospect Avenue; that site was Dr. Rockefeller’s leech farm, and the Tower that I knew was located at the building that has since been converted into the Public Safety guard box that stops all incoming cars on Faculty Road. Back then we didn’t have Masquerade, or the Franzia Olympics, Houseparties, or even very many meals; Tower existed mostly as a place where a fellow could get his shoes shined or his mustache waxed, and also as the rendezvous point where Hat-Makers would meet to plot against William Jennings Bryan.

Yes, times have changed at Touwre—oops, I mean Tower! Old habits die hard!—but one tradition still remains: the alumnus visit and meal mooch. When I was an undergraduate, whenever I saw an alum in the dining room more than once during the academic school year, I would think indignantly, “My God! What kind of bottom-feeding, unemployed, friendless ragamuffin not only has the free time and pathetic, non-existent social life necessary to schlep over to Princeton for a meal, but also imagines that he is still well-liked—if not idolized—by his younger, un-graduated clubmates, even though most of the club has no idea who he is, and, even if they did, would certainly not like him anyway, being that he is a huge, huge egomaniacal turd statue of a man.”

Now that I am a year-and-a-half out of college, however, I would be lying to myself if I thought I wasn’t a bottom-feeding, unemployed friendless ragamuffin turd statue. Yes, that’s right, I freely admit this label: I, Jason Gilbert, am a bottom-feeding, unemployed, friendless ragamuffin turd statue man. I accept it; it’s my eHarmony username. I would make it my vanity license plate if they printed license plates with that many characters, and also if I could afford a car.

And so now that I recognize myself in the alums I so use to mock and despise, I want my due. I want to be the most bottom-feedingest, most unemployediest, friendlessest ragamuffin turd monument the Tower Club has ever seen in her glorious history. I find myself at a unique moment to claim this crown: I live in New Jersey, with easy access to Princeton; I have no job, nor am I “employable” in even the broadest sense of the word; among my top 5 friends I count both of my parents, the takeout lady at Foo Ho Kitchen, and a beautiful white goose that I sometimes see during my evening walks; and, as always, I have no shame about upsetting social mores, even in the face of explicit condemnation.

AND SO, without further ado, I am proud to announce the inaugural competition of what I hope will become an annual Tower event, on par with the Franzia Olympics, Masquerade, and the dining room being almost completely empty on Yom Kippur: I hereby challenge my fellow Tower (and Touwre) alumni to compete against me on The Official Obnoxious Tower Alumni Mooch-Off Ladder (TOOTAMOL).
All Tower alumni, dead or alive, are eligible to participate in TOOTAMOL, and it will work just like a Robo or Squash Ladder, with standings to be posted regularly at the entrance to the dining room and online for all to see and follow. All you have to do is visit Tower Club, act like a self-important buffoon who owns the place while being totally oblivious to your surroundings. I’ve drawn up a rudimentary points list for how the winner will be chosen:

  • Stop by Tower to say hello: 1 point
  • Stop by Tower for a meal: 2 points
  • Stop by Tower on the weekend for a drink: 3 points
  • Stop by Tower on the weekend for a drink and end up evacuating your bodily fluids anywhere but the toilet: 5 points
  • Spend a night at Tower: 1 point
  • Spend a night with a Tower member: 2 points
  • Spend a night with a Tower officer: 3 points
  • Spend a night with a future Tower bickeree while claiming to be a current officer: 4 points
  • Spend a night with a future Tower bickeree while claiming to be a current officer named Zach Zimmerman: 5 points
  • Tell a story about the time you were in Tower: 1 point
  • Tell a story about the time you were in Tower and were so, so drunk: 2 points
  • Tell a story about the time you were in Tower involving a room in the club that never existed ("The Observatory" "The Chimpanzee Lab"): 3 points
  • Tell a story about the time you were in Tower that doesn't end with a wistful sigh, forced corporate boardroom laughter, or the phrase, "Yeah, we had fun back then": 5 points
  • Play a game of Beirut, Beer Pong, or Robo: 1 point
  • Play a game of Beirut, Beer Pong, or Robo without remarking about how good you used to be or how you're "out of practice": 2 points
  • Play a game of Beirut, Beer Pong, or Robo while discussing your industry, area of expertise, or corporate interests: 3 points
  • Convince the punk undergrad who beat you five times in a row in Beirut, Beer Pong, or Robo that he will never work in investment banking so long as you live, and then storming out of the building, never to return: 5 points
  • Introducing yourself to a current member: 1 point
  • Having a conversation with this member about their major, where they're from, what student activities they are involved in, or what they want to do when they graduate: 1 point
  • Holding a five-minute conversation with a current member without once asking about their major, where they're from, what student activities they are involved in, or what they want to do when they graduate: 2 points
  • Holding a five-minute conversation with a current member solely about what you might look like with a mustache: 3 points
  • Starting this conversation by sidling up to the person and saying, "Excuse me, ma'am, but I must-ache you a very important question": 5 points
The list, I would note, is still in flux, and I am open to suggestions. There are many obnoxious Tower alumni behaviors I did not mention--sitting at dinner for longer than an hour and a half, for example; ordering the officers to turn on the tap for you; making an officer explain how to turn on a piece of electrical equipment, etc. etc.--though I could not assign points, because I don't know how common they are having never "officially" been in an officer (I was, like, totally best friends with all of the officers though, and I ate every meal with them; I was basically the eleventh(?) officer, ask anyone).

Until then, however, this list will have to suffice. I look forward to many more meals, drinks, and telling wide-eyed sophomores totally invented tales about what working at Goldman is really like. Until then (and by then, I mean next week, when I will be staying at Tower for approximately four nights--ready my bedroom, Scheeler!--I wish all of my fellow alumni the best of luck in topping me in the TOOTAMOL. And remember, at the end of the day, we are all True Blue, so let us be civil no matter the results; this is all I must-ache of you.

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