On the second night of my freshman year at Penn, I handled a vibrator for the first time in my life. That night, there was nothing else I could do to alleviate the loneliness of being in a new place but try, in the desperate crush of the first weeks of my freshman year, to make as many friends as possible in the shortest amount of time. Somehow, I ended up with a large blue textured synthetic penis in my hand instead. I remember the night well, as would most people who have suffered complete and utter humiliation in front of a large group of people they had never met before. That sticky-hot September night, I ended up in some girl's room, where a bunch of people were having the all-too-common "Oh, you're from New Jersey, too?!" discussion. Sick of talking about the Short Hills Mall, my eyes wandered to the girl's desk, upon which I saw the usual suspects: shower caddy, perfume, make-up, a couple of notebooks. But there was something else. A large something else that started to quiver uncontrollably and make a loud tapping noise like those wind-up teeth toys with legs that my dad gave out at his dental office. Foolishly, I pointed to the quaking "blue thing" and asked in my naivete what it was. (Not being an avid porn fan myself, I think it was OK that I had never seen what its owner fondly called "the Smurf stick" before.) Appalled at my innocence, the Long Island girl responded, "It's only the Magic Wand 2000!" Well, color me humiliated and provide me with a large hole into which I could crawl into and die a short, painless death. The room erupted with laughter as if in some bad after-school special. I had not been this embarrassed since preschool, when I peed in my pants in the middle of demonstrating a curtsy to my class. And believe me, that was pretty damn embarrassing. Dumfounded, I stood there in a paralyzingly endless moment. In my hand, I held nothing less than the epic, the legendary, the mythical vibrating Magic Wand 2000. Suffice it to say, there is no such thing as embarrassment until you have held a throbbing fluorescent blue textured penis in your hand in a room filled with people you haven't known for more than five minutes. Not many people get that opportunity, or so I'm told. It was hardly the place I expected to be less than 72 hours into my freshman year. And so began my career at Penn. In the hot Indian summer days of September, when freshmen move into the Quad and students return to campus, there is a sense of urgency to meet people that filters through college house hallways as reliably as asbestos fills the walls and construction workers line Locust Walk at lunchtime. Students come to Penn from all corners of New Jersey (and Long Island!) to make new friends and embark upon the "new educational endeavors" President Rodin boasts about so proudly at Convocation. (Ironically, President Rodin always mentions how many editors, valedictorians, school musical leads and varsity athletes are in each class. For some reason, she always forgets to mention how many Magic Wands are in each class.) Each year, whether we are freshmen or seniors, we arrive hopeful, excited, nervous and eager of what we will see, who we will meet and what we will accomplish. Enter cold, harsh reality, in which the only thing we can anticipate is that we will not be able to anticipate anything. Despite years of summer study programs, discussions with guidance counselors and a summer spent worrying about new college lives, no one can ever accurately predict all that lies ahead. There's simply no telling who will or who won't end up in a foreign room with a throbbing blue phallus in her hands. But each year, when we come back to Penn or arrive for the first time, we expect our lives to go in certain directions. The trouble is we won't always walk down the path we had initially planned. Rather, we have two choices: To anticipate and second-guess everything that might happen to us, or to roll with the punches -- and quake with the vibrators. Despite summers spent predicting our futures, when we arrive at Penn we should all try to step away from what we have predicted, not judge people prematurely and look deeper than the surface. After all, it's not the size of the wand that matters -- but the magic inside itComments powered by Disqus
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