I live in the Netherworld: Watson Dorm

I live in the Netherworld: Watson Dorm

Okay, I know every college student since the beginning of higher education likes to complain about their dormitory, but here’s the thing: Watson dorm is unlike any other dorm experience you can or will have on Kenyon’s campus. I have lived here since August (with the added bonus of moving in early, as a Peer Counselor for training) and I have compiled such a wide and vast collection of experiences in this place that it feels like I’ve lived seven separate lives, all of which have been marked by some absolutely batshit occurrences. Nothing you will read on this or any website will be able to convey to you the full experience, but come with me, won’t you? Come with me on this journey.

Sometimes the basement screams. I know the basement seems like an odd place to start, but I live just above it and so it’s constantly on my mind, and sometimes, gang? The basement screams. It started with that first short power outage (which–you know what, can we talk about that at some point? Where is our electricity going? Is it being siphoned for some kind of dark magic? Probably) and since then has come back seemingly at random. Somewhere down in the basement, near the laundry machines, there is some kind of alarm that has the piercing shriek that sounds less like an alarm than it sounds like one very big and terrible bat. And this bat likes to scream and scream and never let me nap. There is absolutely nothing which determines when the bat will shout, but it will, and you just have to deal with it.

Something is always burning. Watson has a kitchen, and I think that was probably a sweet gesture at first (“these kids have to live in the Upside Down from Stranger Things, they should get to make pasta sometimes”) but it has absolutely backfired. That is a pun, but I’m deadly serious, some shit is always burning or on fire here. It usually smells like someone ruined a pizza to the point where it smells both like fire and black licorice for some reason? I don’t have any idea why, but it is a constant smell in this place, and I hate it.

Do you remember that episode of “The Twilight Zone” when a college junior walks into his dorm bathroom to find the walls of a shower absolutely slathered in some kind of slime? No, you don’t, because it didn’t happen in an episode of “The Twilight Zone”–it happened to me, Nathan Scott Winer, a real life boy who very badly wanted to take a shower, but couldn’t because of the veritable second wall made of slime in his favorite shower. This one sucked and also scared the shit out of me, my brain immediately jumped to ectoplasm, and though I know now it was probably body wash or something it definitely seemed like ghost evidence. There are probably ghosts in my dorm and they hate shower walls.

Animals will be here without anyone letting them in. I’ve seen a cat that belongs to no one, and also about fifteen thousand bugs, which I guess isn’t so unusual but when everything else in your living space feels like a curse, a horde of bugs takes on a vaguely Biblical-plague-like vibe. And that vibe fucking sucks, let me tell you.

Watson is another plane of existence where no one is allowed to speak to each other. I have two pretty decent friends in this dorm, and we speak very often outside of this building, but within the confines of Watson there’s an unspoken rule that we can’t exchange more than two sentences per day, or else some kind of minor deity or spirit will visit misfortunes upon us in the night. I have lived next to people for two thirds of a year and I have absolutely no idea what their voices sound like.

People come and go from this hall like it’s a game of the Sims and someone is swapping out people and I genuinely live in constant fear that one day my time will come. Where do the people who leave Watson go? Are they happier there? Almost definitely.

One day I think Watson will descend back into the ground, swallowed whole by Gaia the Earth goddess in her final act of benevolence to man.

The water pressure, though, is honestly not too bad. Caples was worse.

2 responses

  1. Nate doesn’t know how good he has it, lady bugs is nothing compared to the skunk encounter in the spring of ‘96

    I’ll never forget sitting in that closet that they called a “computer lab”, pulling an all nighter, and using the vax computer to write it. It was warm enough to leave the front door open and at around 4 in the morning I heard a loud bang in the lounge. I looked out and saw a trash can on its side and a black tail with a white stripe sticking out of the top of it. I slowly closed the door to the “lab” and did the only rational thing I could think of, call security. I could overhear the operator talking to the poor saps who had to pull the Tuesday night graveyard shift- he asked “does he sound drunk?” She responded “no, I don’t think so”. Twenty minutes later two reluctant security guards showed up and quickly realized I wasn’t making this up in a drunken stupor. I cracked the door and peered out at them just long enough to see the apprehension on their faces, then quickly shut the door and let them deal with the situation. I’m not exactly sure how they coaxed the skunk back outside, but they did so without agitating him into spray mode. Five minutes later they knocked on the “lab” door again and let me know the situation had been handled and that perhaps it wasn’t a wise idea to leave the door open overnight. Being a good steward to the dorm I sent out an @Watson email to let all my dorm mates know about the perils that can befall from leaving the door ajar. After that the climate was never as comfortable, but we were skunk free. I don’t think kids these days know how good they really have it- ladybugs, really? Today’s students don’t know about allstus, Kermit, or fighting skunks in the middle of the night.

    Rob Kletzker ‘98

    • To be fair, it’s easier to get rid of a skunk than an actual infestation of hundreds, maybe thousands of multicolored Asian lady beetles (they look like ladybugs but they’re worse — they release a bad smell when you try to catch them, they stain whatever they’re resting on when they release said smell, and they also bite). Walking into your room at the end of a long day to find 40 lady beetles waiting for you inside your room (as happened to me when I lived in Norton as a first year) or waking up with bite marks on your arms in the morning (ditto) is no fun.

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