Last year, I lived in Hanna in a room facing the quad, and due to this I sometimes had the unfortunate privilege of hearing all sorts of sounds from outside my window. Occasionally it would be the incredibly loud lawnmower that always seemed to linger beneath my window or the yells of people walking around the quad going wherever for whatever reason. Other times it would be the blaring of music from the building itself. Another auditory staple was the sound of tour guides cheerfully reeling prospective students in right below my window. Tour guides say plenty of things to prospies and I could give a decent critique of what they leave out, what they tweak and the occasional guile of their word choice, but for the sake of politeness and time (which I seem to be losing faster than ever now that my comps proposal is less than 24 hours away) I’ll mention only one very specific, timeless, fascinating—and depending on the situation, harmless—aspect of Kenyon’s architecture: the thin walls in residential buildings. Should the prospies become distracted by fantasies of “Big State” party-orgies, Ivy-clad elitism or finding love Liberal Arts style and turn to foot-dragging zombies too quickly along the way, Kenyon’s tour guides may want to consider spicing up the conversation with Five Unpleasant Things You Hear a Thin Wall Away.
- A Stomp Party — No, not a party with a Stomp theme, although now that I think about it that sounds like a nightmare. I can just imagine someone on their too-many-ieth drink slamming metal trashcan lids in my face with all the determined seriousness of a a musician with no interest in their audience. No, a stomp party is when you live on the bottom of a New Apt and you are either in season, laid up with the Krud or wallowing in deep winter boredom (three things I’ve experienced) as your more fortunate topside neighbor (or if you’re in a two-level New Apt, your roommate) decides to invite people over. The muffled sound of footsteps—as people walk, trip and run around—become amplified to the extent that they sound only like the stomping of hundreds of people throwing a massive tantrum. It’s amazing how high tension can run in a room where every thud makes ceiling collapse seem more imminent.
- Aliens in the Church Bell Tower — The government/administration/Thrill say it’s an art installation, but that’s obviously another lie propagated by our secretly communist foreign president. It started off slowly Monday with a terrifying auto-tuned loudness and has progressed since to mournful signals to their home planet and disturbing robotic readings of the clock. Is this a countdown to the end of the earth in 2012? Regardless of the multitude of chills that have run down my spine recently, I’m grateful that it caused me to think, because I don’t think that anyone at Kenyon, myself included, thinks enough as they mindlessly conform to the rigidity of a liberal arts education and their pathetic bourgeois daily lives.
- Retching—Yeah, if you happen to have the room that shares a wall with a bathroom, you’re fairly guaranteed to hear some of this delightful action. Once it’s about midwinter and your roommate has been sick for days and upon waking up in the morning rushes to the bathroom, loudly slams the door and slumps over the sink—or maybe if they’re feeling especially polite and gross, the toilet—in no time the soothing sounds of 800 AM The Vom will help you welcome the day without the slightest suspicion of everything public because chances are if your roommate’s already got a virus, then you do too and it’s just a matter of time before you can join the fun.
- The Tell-Tale Cell Vibration—Not everyone’s phone is “smart” and some of these stupid models are apt to aggressively vibrate after receiving a call or text. However, upon first moving into a room for the school year, you may not be aware of this thin wall phenomenon. Hearing the faint vibration you’ll immediately clutch your cell and check it only to be met with no new messages. Then it’ll come again, this time sounding just a bit louder, and you’ll start picking things up and putting them down at random. You’ll maybe crawl across the floor, craning to look under your bed, down the thin space between your wardrobe and the wall. As you sit on the floor maddened and desperate, you’ll hear it again and start to think it’s the vengeful ghost of a phone you never should have thrown against a wall after receiving an iPhone upgrade. There’s also the chance that you’ll hear it and just live with the minor nuisance for a while till you figure it out. I figured I’d parody that Edgar Allen Shakespeare guy for all the English and Drama majors out there.
- Oh and the one you’ve probably been anticipating since you read the title: Sex — Yeah, sometimes you hear that, but I won’t go all Fifty Shades on you about it because I don’t feel comfortable speaking against my bright-orange-fence-like inhibitions.
Honorable Mention: The weird dude next door who is systematically watching every single Robin Williams movie on blast via Netflix for some terrifying reason.