Pennsylvania Gazette: Alumni Voices (The Deluxe Edition)

Today I posted a memory of my time at the University of Pennsylvania. I'll put it here, too, for posterity's sake:

My memories of my time at Penn are a collection of sensations: the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells (oh, the smells!) of Penn:

My first sight of Hill House when the taxi dropped me and my huge boxes off in front. It took me five minutes to figure out where the front entrance was.

The sound of someone saying who-knew-what in Irvine Auditorium. The acoustics in that place were so bad, you could be 20 feet from someone and not be able to understand them, never mind catching a word of Dennis Miller's rants from the top of the balcony.

The taste of my first Sophie's cheesesteak. I don't care what anyone else says, that truck served the best steaks in town and, therefore, the world.

The slightly sweaty smell of Franklin Field on a hot spring day, the rough feel of the twine on the javelin grip in my hand, and the thrumming "thwing!" of a good release. What better way to spend a spring afternoon?

The smell of Icy-Hot and the feel of rugburns on my knees after every intramural football game.

The sight of the magical transformation of the Harold Prince Theatre from a big box with seats to some other place, whether New York, Berlin, or the imaginary mindscape of Pink Floyd's The Wall. The smell of makeup and spirit gum in the dressing rooms, and the sound of the women changing on the other side of the dressing room we all shared, where we weren't supposed to be looking.

The smell of desperation and competition in Steinberg-Dietrich during Dead Week, the crackling sound of my Finance text book opening for the first time, the faint whiff of ozone on a new bulk pack, and the frighteningly blank blue WordPerfect screen in the Wharton computer lab.

The taste of a chocolate chip muffin eaten on Locust Walk between classes, accompanied by the sound of students shilling tickets for their shows.

The sound of panhandlers calling out for change, especially the guy who sat on the bench at 40th and Locust every day: "You got a quarter? Howwwwyadoin'?"

The sour-sweet funnel cake/beer/pot/vomit smell of the Quad during Spring Fling. My freshmen year, I kept asking, "Is someone burning rubber?" until someone explained to me what that smell was.

Gingko berries.

The "eau du Philly" aroma that rose from the steam grates on the street, or the so-thick-you-could-taste-it reek of the subways in summer.

The sweet burn of the freshly washed trays that I stacked and ran back to the front of the Hill House dining hall for three years. Hey, it paid better than sitting in the library sorting books.

The sight of a wall of toast cascading down from the upper decks of Franklin Field or a sheet of streamers from the top of the Palestra. No other school that I have ever seen had such unique and fun athletic traditions as Penn, nor such a well-endowed band.

The slightly moldy smell of the ironically named House Of Happiness, the house on 41st Street that I shared with seven other unique personalities for two years. We were far more real than "The Real World" ever dreamed of being, and we had a lot of fun when we didn't want to kill each other.

The sound of my wife-to-be signing a love song in Houston Hall Auditorium in the world premiere of BEYOND CONTROL. Directing that show was the first and most important step in the rest of my life, because that is where I met her.
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