My first Ivies commenced on the 15th floor of the tower. Picture me in a dark stairwell—a scared freshman in a foreign land—holding a bowl of red Jell-O. It was about a week before the concert. I’d recently confirmed my spot in a social house (“College House!” I reminded myself) and thus Ivies—the real Ivies—had begun. I marked its inception with the revered Macmillan House tradition of filling Quinby’s porch with assorted foods.
I feel slightly irreverent writing about Ivies during Passover and Easter. I’m potentially disappointing both sides of my family simultaneously—an admirable feat. But since Ivies is a holiday in itself—praised by first years even before they’ve experienced it—I figure I might as well contribute to the noise (that is the purpose of this column, no?)
A quick background, for anyone who cares about history: Ivies celebrates the planting of ivy dating back to the 1800s. It has nothing to do with the Ivy League. If you go to any online college forums, you will learn that Ivies is “the greatest thing ever created.” I hope this is not true. You will also learn that Ivies is “when big bands, such as OK Go! or Third Eye Blind, come to campus.” (I don’t think online college forums have been updated since 2007). However, at its core, “Ivies = booze fest.”
This April, I will be celebrating my fourth Ivies. I am, how you say, well-versed. I know the drinks to mix, the shoes to wear. I know that if you start drinking at 9 a.m. you will end up watching Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999) by 9 p.m. The Bowdoin body is not well versed for prolonged partying. We must acclimate, quickly, if we want to make it through the weekend. Our Bible is Survivies, a guide to safe and healthy festivities. But why stop there? The weekend (week) should not be spent settling for mere bodily function. Thus, I present Thrivies: a celebration of our best selves. No blood, sweat or tears (or vomit). Maybe, if we are careful, we can avoid some of our past mistakes.
How to thrive at Thrivies:
Ivies wardrobe takes thought and strategy. Freshman year, I spent half the morning debating whether to wear shorts. This year, I will not hesitate. Wear those shorts! Don’t make me look like the only idiot trying too hard. We’re allowed one day of festival attire. Despite Maine’s temperatures—and Bowdoin’s apparent contract with The Salvation Army—we have the right to bear our thighs.
Get to know your peers. Ivies is a time of unprecedented camaraderie, like Color War at camp. (Unfortunately, Ivies doesn’t commence with an indoor laser show and a llama parade like my Color War did. Blue Team forever.) Age won’t matter and friendship won’t matter because you’ll all end up with lice anyway. Drunk people are much kinder than sober people. They are also much messier, like friendly raccoons. Don’t be afraid to approach someone new, particularly if you have a camera. Ivies elicits a shocking obsession with photography. Brunswick Quad is like a red carpet for desperate, irrelevant celebrities. Bathrooms (if you can find one) are particularly great places for meaningful conversation and/or compliments. I’ve never felt more special than when I’ve chatted with tipsy people on the toilet. It’s a real ego boost.
Begin preparing your bladder (right this second!). The lack of bathrooms, tightness of clothing, and quantity of liquid—stay hydrated! —all contribute to extended discomfort. Even if you can sneak into an apartment or make a friend, the constant threat of urination will weigh on you. Kegels are a private, and apparently useful, exercise to train pelvic muscles. Just saying. Also, improved bladder control could benefit you in the future, for instance in hostage situations or childbirth.
Take time to rest. I am not usually one for napping, but Ivies induces a strange type of jetlag. I’ve been to only one of three concerts yet managed to fall asleep during it (tarps are more comfortable than you’d assume). Ivies is also not the week to start a new exercise regime, unless it includes dancing or beer.
In order to ensure a successful Thrivies, stay considerate. Quad Day in particular produces a crazy amount of noise and a crazier amount of trash. If we clean up after ourselves and cooperate with Security (who works day and night to keep us safe) everyone will thrive. On a similar note, watch out for friends (or enemies!) throughout the weekend. Ivies is a marathon, and marathons breed injury. We can forget responsibility but not decency.
To freshmen: Don’t take yourselves too seriously. You have three more years to make up for a first Ivies embarrassment. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t live up to expectations. There’s always next year.
To seniors: Don’t take yourselves too seriously. This is it. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t live up to expectations. Be grateful for the memories.