Covid-19 testing is needed to ensure everyone’s safety, but long wait for results and unreliable tests make a return to “normalcy” difficult.
By: Riley Mulcahy
When Covid-19 spread like wildfire in March of 2020, the whole world was essentially locked down. Schools closed their doors while the economy suffered for the overall wellbeing of society. Testing, and the lack thereof, has made it difficult for everyone to return back to work, school, and everyday life. With the spread of the Omicron variant, finding a PCR test is like finding a rare piece of art. Trying to find a rapid test? Drug stores have been wiped clean, and even if you can find them, rapid at-home tests have been proven to be far less accurate than PCR tests.
With vaccine and testing requirements being the reasonable response to the changing guidelines and new surge due to Omicron, Saint Mary’s, like many schools, made it mandatory to have a negative test result to return to on-campus housing for Jan Term. The news came as many colleges announced the switch back to online classes, citing the sheer amount of cases and the fear of an outbreak.
Saint Mary’s announced the requirement to test only four days before students returned to campus on January 3rd. Naturally, students relied on rapid tests to prove they were negative in order to come back to campus, which the university accepted. By not explicitly requiring students to submit a PCR test, the accuracy of the tests must be in question.
According to Vox, the difference between the PCR test’s accuracy compared to the rapid tests’ is that the PCR test is more sensitive. However, the publication argues that if you test positive on a rapid test, “you almost certainly have Covid-19.” However, rapid tests, which test for antigens, are not as sensitive as the PCR tests, making it possible that you test negative on rapid and positive on the PCR.
Two years into the pandemic, there is still a struggle and no clear plan on how to deal with the virus and how to test for it. This trickle-down effect makes it difficult for students to learn and retain information, let alone function in everyday life with the stress of a positive test result hanging in the balance.
Additionally, Saint Mary’s has struggled with its communication surrounding the return to campus for Jan Term and the testing requirements. Given the rapidly changing surge of cases, Saint Mary’s was allowed to announce a concrete plan only days before the planned return. However, it felt like the college was waiting for the last possible moment to announce anything other than a full socially distanced in-person and masked return. Students had to submit two tests to the college, one before move-in and one at Saint Mary’s; however, the use of rapid tests makes one question the precision of the process, with students and faculty feeling a false sense of security with a negative result.
According to Saint Mary’s Covid-19 dashboard, as of January 9th, there have been 41 cases since the return for Jan Term and 122 reported off-campus cases (this number considers the timeframe of 12-10-21 to 1-9-22). To put this number into perspective, according to the Fall 2021 dashboard, there were 45 cases of Covid-19 at Saint Mary’s.
The number of cases shows that Omicron is here as well as the importance of testing. Although the risk of severe illness reduces significantly when one has been vaccinated, there is still a need to isolate for 5-14 days. The testing process should be painless, and it needs to be. To continue on with life, testing must be perfected so everyone can feel safe about attending class in person.
Revaluating during what may be the biggest spike in cases of the Covid-19 pandemic
By Melanie Moyer
There’s no more denying the presence of Omicron in the United States, nor the case numbers that resemble those from the beginning of the pandemic. Our government and collective society must answer now how we will react to this new development in what we once thought of as a disappearing problem.
The Covid-19 pandemic was all but forgotten during the busy fall semester here on the Saint Mary’s campus, as students were attending regular in-person classes and most of the community was vaccinated—which, up until now, was enough protection from classrooms where people chose not to wear masks or busy hallways during passing periods. Reporters from The Collegian uncovered and reported on several stories regarding the safety on campus—such as forged vaccine cards, illegitimate religious exemptions, and the reality of outdoor, unmasked classes—but as we learn more about this more contagious and evasive but less dangerous mutation, we see that our strategy needs to change to ensure that safety is our first priority.
Our present situation seems as simple as deciding whether classes will be conducted totally online, in-person, or a combination of both. However, it is unclear how the school will change its strategy to decide if any in-person classes are safe for students and professors. Omicron complicates this decision-making process even more than it already was (who knew the unprecedented could become so unprecedented?). Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, an infectious disease modeler and epidemiologist at Columbia whose team built one of the first Covid-19 models, reveals that institutions such as Saint Mary’s will need to take more into account when considering the safety of the campus.
Shaman shares that his team’s “models project that the United States is likely to document more Covid-19 cases in January than in any previous month of the pandemic, but a smaller fraction of those cases will require hospitalization.” This is due to the more contagious and immunity-evading nature of Omicron. “Whether hospitals experience more or less strain than they did in January 2021,” he shares, “will depend on case numbers and how severe they are.”
Thus, Shaman indicates that the most critical number to look at now will be hospitalizations and deaths rather than just cases. We have learned that herd immunity is not much more than a pipe dream and that our best hope is to get vaccinated and boosted. We cannot know if future variants will be worse than Omicron or if they will also evade immunity from previous strains. Further, it should be our goal to prevent higher infection rates to protect those who would require hospitalization if they contracted the virus.
With this in mind, Saint Mary’s is posed with the challenge of keeping students safe—especially considering that we cannot know who will need to be hospitalized and who will not—while also maintaining a sense of normalcy and connection for the Saint Mary’s community. As a senior who is involved in many community-building clubs and activities, I hope that we can return to a Fall 2021-esque world again. The more practical part of myself knows, however, that to ensure the safety of our community during another spike in the pandemic, we must reevaluate our approach to on-campus learning. The fact that we’ll still be reckoning with Covid-19 on a large scale this spring is a hard truth to swallow, but our community needs to stay patient and keep our most vulnerable safe. Please stay safe, get boosted, buy an N95 if you haven’t already, and remain open to the possibilities of the new year.
By Joseph Amir
New Year’s resolutions! For some, they evoke images of frantically spinning on the treadmill for two weeks until the inevitable failure and abandonment of this resolution come. For others, they’re decried as “stupid,” something that only the weak attempt, or an exercise in futility. However, I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to set realistic resolutions that are entirely doable.
First, start with a goal you think would be easy to accomplish. For example, you could set a goal to “exercise for one hour a week” or “only 5 push-ups per day.” Then, increase this goal until you think it might be challenging to reach, for example, “5 hours of exercise per week” or “40 push-ups per day.” Really, all you need to do is start with the straightforward goal and then ramp up once per month until you’re at your final goal at the end of 2022!
In case you didn’t want to produce some New Year’s resolutions, or you were too impaired to think of any (21-year-olds only, of course), here are some sample resolutions that you can try on for size. Some of them are satirical, and some of them are serious – it’s up to you to tell.
Only 1 alcoholic beverage per day
Only 1 fistfight per week
Read 1 book per week
1 swearword per sentence limit
Make sure to wash your hands every time you go to the bathroom
Don’t yell at your mom
Get a new plant every month; if any of them die, you spend 1 hour freezing in the snow (bonus points – find snow)
Are we having fun yet? I’m glad. New Year’s resolutions are a tradition in American society for some reason or another. Making fun of the poor saps who abandon them has lived on in the culture for as long as the tradition has existed. Feel free to make, break, or forsake them, but they can be a fun way to improve yourself and might produce positive changes, even if you don’t hold onto them for the entire year.
By Ariana Perez
In the world of academia, the texts we often analyze are literary works of classic nature, renowned for their significance to a person, movement, or era of past and noteworthy history. In our Seminar curriculum at Saint Mary’s, everyone has read and discussed Homer’s The Odyssey or excerpts from Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Meanwhile, little thought is given to the value of modern narrative formats like comics and their ability to invoke discussions of similar depth. An exception is the graphic novel Maus, but even then, it is one modern comic book in a sea of literary texts.
One Jan Term course emphasizes the educational value of comic books and graphic novels by pairing them with philosophical discussion. Led by Professor Anne M. Carpenter, Jan-100 (Comics Books and Existenz) takes the philosophical ideas of Bernard Lonergan and pairs them with assigned comics that reflect Longergan’s concepts of human existence, particularly, of how one becomes oneself in the world.
Besides reading well-known DC and Marvel comics about well-known superheroes and teams like Superman and the Teen Titans, the class analyzes indie comics as well, providing a wide range of genres and archetypes to analyze in relation to how they connect with philosophical ideas of the self. Various aspects regarding the composition of the comics are talked about in seminar-style discussions along with the philosophical text that accompanies it. The result is long and engaging talks about details, and how themes of the accompanying philosophical text appear in the narrative, whether in themes or character arcs.
When I first saw this Jan Term course during registration, I jumped at the opportunity to analyze a form of media outside of the typical literary format. Although I’ve never considered myself a fan of philosophy, in this class I have found myself enjoying the connections I have been making between the complex philosophical excerpts and the diverse variety of comics.
I personally believe there is great value in using graphic narratives as conduits for critical thinking. In a format where every detail from dialogue to coloring and composition is carefully considered, how can comics not be considered as valid to analyze and discuss as the written hero epics of old? All in all, I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in philosophy, or who loves analyzing media and wants to try something new, familiar, or outside of their comfort zone.
Shifting guidelines, family dynamics, and global pandemics mean stress for the holidays for many.
By Riley Mulcahy
Turkey, sharing what they are grateful for, and appreciation of time off from school and work. For most people, the idea of the Holidays and seeing relatives is a positive experience. However, holidays can bring pain and stress to people who do not have a family to share or have a family they are not close to. Given that we are still in a global pandemic, the stress is magnified when we are expected to gather in large groups, even with the prevalence of vaccines.
According to Organizational Psychologist Adam Grant, most people who feel the stresses of the holidays are not necessarily depressed. Instead, we as a collective are “languishing.” Grant argues, “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness” in his viral New York Times article. “It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.” We are living in an unprecedented time where the social and the political are intertwined.
Decisions to protect the wider community have been made by both major parties. When social and political unrest is running rampant, we must understand that languishing is an expected response. As we head into the holiday season, we also have to realize that people struggle to thrive, but that does not mean they are necessarily depressed.
Even though many of us are languishing, there needs to be an acknowledgment of those who are struggling. From a personal perspective, I know that I have struggled with social interactions since socializing more because I have had to learn how to interact with people I had not seen in a year or longer. Although I consider myself an extrovert, there is still a sense of anxiety I feel when I see people I have not seen for a long time or am in a big group situation. This Holiday season, it is crucial to give us a little more grace regarding social interactions. For some college students, this might be the first time they have seen their parents since the summer, or they might not be able to go home at all due to travel restrictions.
The political landscape has not helped people’s moods going into the Holidays. Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty last week for his part in killing two Black Lives Matter protesters. Writer Julie Lythcott Haims, who was previously the Dean of Freshmen at Stanford, summed up so many of the thoughts that a lot of people are feeling right now: “Because Rittenhouse had killed two white men, I'd thought that the chances of a guilty verdict were higher. Maybe they were. Even so, the chances weren't high enough.”
Instead of the typical Holiday stressors of family drama or someone forgetting to take food out of the oven, we are now dealing with complex and difficult conversations about race and privilege, which are needed conversations but challenging to have in the midst of differing opinions and family dynamics. When we hear about a white man being acquitted for a crime in “self-defense,” the holiday spirit can be tainted, especially when there are others who might think that he was in the right.
The Holidays will look different this year. Some may not have the chance to connect with family, or some may struggle to sit across from their family. The holidays can bring up feelings of loneliness and isolation. However, there is also an opportunity to reflect and try to help others who also may be struggling in the form of volunteering at a soup kitchen or seeing what the town/ city is doing to serve others and get involved in it.
Here are the articles referenced:
“There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing” by Adam Grant
Were You Holding Your Breath? By Julie Lythcott-Haims
This holiday season, let’s cut back on our Amazon shopping. Jeff Bezos is already rich enough. (Image Courtesy of Author)
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
Visiting News Reporter
With over 150 million subscribers worldwide, Amazon has become ubiquitous with online shopping. The coronavirus pandemic forced us all to social distance inside our homes, and many people turned to online shopping retailers like Amazon as their primary source of goods. Amazon is convenient, cheap, and has almost anything you could think of available with just the click of your mouse. Despite these obvious benefits, buying from Amazon means supporting unethical business practices and growing Jeff Bezos’s enormous wealth. So this holiday season, let’s cut back on our Amazon shopping.
Amazon is very close to becoming a monopoly for internet sales. Amazon sales account for almost 50% of all online sales and five percent of all retail across the United States. Amazon’s business model prices out small companies, driving them into bankruptcy. In most states, Amazon is exempt from collecting sales tax. Though this sometimes benefits the consumer, it gives the corporation an advantage over competitors. The company is not just limited to the Amazon that we know but is constantly acquiring other companies. Jeff Bezos also owns Whole Foods, Ring, Twitch, and even The Washington Post.
Amazon supports police surveillance. In 2018 Amazon bought the home security company Ring.
The company has been criticized by many civil rights groups for organizing secretive deals with police departments all over the United States. Amazon executive Dave Limp has publicly hinted that in the future Ring security cameras could use Amazon’s facial recognition software. For the most part, this technology is unregulated and studies have shown that even some of the most advanced facial recognition software misidentify black people at rates much higher than they misidentify white people. Amazon Echo devices also have a universal back door which means that Amazon can use them as full-time listening devices at any time. Santa Claus is not the only one watching us when we are sleeping anymore (Bezos is that you?).
Amazon exploits its workers. Warehouse workers have claimed that they do not have access to toilets when they are working and drivers have claimed that they feel pressured to drive recklessly in order to fulfill their deliveries. Not only this, but Amazon has pushed the deaths and injuries of warehouse workers under the rug. In 2017, Phillip Lee Terry, a warehouse worker in Indiana, was crushed by a forklift he was improperly trained to operate. In 2018, 24 Amazon workers were injured and hospitalized after a can of bear spray was punctured by a robotic arm and in 2019 a worker died on the job from a heart attack, laying on the floor for twenty whole minutes before they were given medical attention. Is this the sort of business you really want to support this holiday season?
There is no ethical consumption under capitalism. But if you are able and have the time and resources this holiday season, spend your money somewhere more ethical. Shop second-hand or make a homemade gift. Regifting is both sustainable and free! Jeff Bezos is already worth 205.5 billion dollars. He does not need more money. No one likes an Ebenezer Scrooge.
Or, How We Can Celebrate Christmas Without Pointless Consumerism
By Joseph Amir
Is there a way to celebrate Christmas while abstaining from Capitalism? I know that Christmas holds many fond memories of receiving presents and spending time with family for most of us. Still, American consumerist culture has distorted Christmas into a poor imitation of the original holiday, one that does not involve celebrating what Jesus stood for but instead stands for moving out holiday inventory as stores institute extended return policies and video game studios put the finishing touches on their blockbuster games so they can be purchased as Christmas gifts.
Stores put up their “Sale” banners, ready to take advantage of shoppers who set aside “gift money” so they can take as much of it as possible to pay their CEOs and line the pockets of their shareholders in dividends. If you’re as tired of letting your wealth trickle up as I am, my mixed religion family can teach you the way to combat this.
Raised in a split Jewish-Christian family, I didn’t really have much of an idea of Christmas because the only family in the United States was Jewish. As a result, I never looked forward to Christmas gifts because I already knew what I was getting, a $100 check from my grandparents, to spend however I liked. We celebrated Hanukkah very sedately, gathering at my grandparents house where the focus was not on gifts (not that I didn’t get any) but on social interaction. The value was in eating with your family, not making gift lists. This allowed me to free up mental energy that I would have focused on dreaming about the things I was going to get towards focusing on my family and spending this valuable time with my grandparents and parents.
But when I did discover Christmas, it was in a different form than most—Swedish Christmas. My mother is Swedish, and as a result I have been traveling to and from Uppsala and Stockholm ever since I was 6 months old. I don’t remember my first Swedish Christmas exactly because I was very young, but I do know that I’m absolutely in love with the traditions surrounding it. The focus is not on gift lists, or what you can buy, it lies squarely on family and spending time with those whom you love.
We start off the month with the Julkalender, a 24-part miniseries aired each year on SVT (the Swedish equivalent of PBS), from December 1st until Christmas Eve. It is a miniseries centering around children, usually 10-14 years old, and deals with the spirit of Christmas. It is different every year, but always revolves around saving Christmas from some sort of threat. After we watch the Julkalender together, we will spend some more time together and look forward to Christmas Eve (when the Swedes celebrate) where we will get together and eat and drink traditional Swedish fare.
Gifts are commonplace, yes, but the focus is not on what we will get and I can’t recall seeing sales anywhere nearly as heavily promoted as here in the US. We spend time with our family, whom we love, and we talk, eat, drink, and are merry. But then again, maybe that’s only something you can do in a culture where wealth inequality is extremely low, taxes are high, and social services are available for all who need them. Either way, be the first step towards change and spend your money on your family in a better, more mindful way, and remember that no matter who buys something for you or not, you are all family and you all love each other the best way you know how.
By Benjamin Noel
Visiting Opinion Writer
Next to the turkey and mashed potatoes, the Thanksgiving debate is another entree at the table of the holiday zeitgeist. By Thanksgiving debate, I’m not referring to political conversations with your uncle, pre-dinner walk philosophizing, or the argument over the worst Thanksgiving food (sweet potato casserole). No, the Thanksgiving debate is the argument that the holiday itself should not be celebrated. For some insight, let's look at the history of the holiday.
The first Thanksgiving in 1621 signified the alliance between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans. As the story goes, the two parties got together for a feast of deer, fish, game birds, and corn. The holiday has been celebrated since 1789 and starting in 1863 (the same year SMC was founded), Thanksgiving has been an annual holiday in the US. Thanksgiving served as a harvest festival, a day of thanks for battles won, and a day of prayer for the blessings received throughout the year.
This night of harmony, prayer, and thanks has changed with the times. When most people’s livelihoods were more tied into the land they lived off of, prayers for good weather and a good harvest were the highlight of the holiday. Now, the thanks given during this time refer more to the unity of a family, as everyone gets time off from work or school, and can come together for a night of bonding.
Back to the debate. Thanksgiving, a time for bonding and reflectiveness, has, due to pushes for retroactive political correctness, been far overshadowed by the torments Native Americans faced at the hands of Europeans in the following 300 years. People find the concept of celebrating this brief unity between the settlers and the Native Americans as brash and insensitive in light of the following centuries of conflict. Some advocate for removing Thanksgiving from our calendars or turning the holiday into a day of mourning for Native Americans.
While the case against Thanksgiving comes from a meaningful, powerful place, I make the case in support of the holiday. The Thanksgiving of today doesn’t solely represent the first feast, and it barely resembles the harvest festival it once was. Thanksgiving has come to represent family. It is a time of the year in which kids come back home from school, parents get time off of work, and the family is whole for the break. Everyone can work together to cook the meal or feel the wrath of mom when you step foot in the kitchen, whatever tradition is in your household. This holiday is celebrated across racial and religious lines. Everyone can celebrate this feast, many, putting their own cultural twists on the traditional feast. And besides taxes, it is one of the only things that unites every single American.
Much has remained the same since the first Thanksgiving of 400 years ago to the Thanksgiving of today. But so much more has changed. While we understand the history of the night and respect those who have been disenfranchised, the holiday has transformed into something beautiful and worth celebrating for 400 more years.
Students are required to mask up indoors, but who enforces it?
By Riley Mulcahy
It is hard to imagine that more than two years ago there was a time where a mask was not needed to participate in everyday life. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it so to protect other people from the virus, and we have to cover our mouth and nose. This fall, following county guidelines, Saint Mary’s has required masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. However, requiring and enforcing the mask mandate are two different things.
One question that remains unclear is whose job is it to enforce mask requirements around campus. There have been times in my classes where I have seen students without masks indoors, and only twice has a professor asked them to put their masks back on. In one class that I am in, any chance students get, the mask falls below their mouth to try and have a conversation with friends while the professor is not looking. The role of the professor is not to police mask-wearing in classrooms; however, there are not a lot of other options when there is one professor with a class of 24 students.
Although everyone is supposed to be vaccinated to live on campus, there are flaws to the system that allow religious exemptions, and therefore not everyone on campus is vaccinated. Given this problem, it is hard to tell who is vaccinated and who isn’t, making masking indoors more critical. The groans of students who have to wear a mask indoors are a lot smaller than the more than 700,000 lives lost from this horrible disease.
In a recent email in preparation for Halloween weekend, the administration of Saint Mary’s reminded the SMC community of the mask mandate due to the changing guidance of Contra Costa COVID-19 guidelines. The email states in part “to prioritize the health and wellness of our campus community, and out of an abundance of caution, Saint Mary’s will continue to require that masks be worn indoors for the duration of the fall term.” Additionally, the email states that although the mask mandate indoors in Contra Costa is officially lifted, and that “while we are encouraged by the declining case rate, regardless of the county’s decision, Saint Mary’s requires that you continue to wear your mask indoors on campus in public spaces throughout the term.”
Wearing a mask is a simple way to protect immunocompromised people and those who cannot get the vaccination. In close settings inside, the likelihood of a COVID-19 exposure is a lot more than outside. At the recent performance of Everybody at the Redwood Grove put on by the SMC theatre program, masks were required and not enforced. I must admit that I am more relaxed about wearing masks outside because there is less of a risk of COVID-19 spreading. However, it is crucial to be mindful of others in understanding when or when not to wear a mask.
The enforcement of masks is a complex topic because it requires students to look at the collective rather than themselves. However, if the community refuses to wear masks, there must be enforcement inside the classroom. When we do not abide by health orders, we risk the safety of the 24 people in the class and anyone they come into contact with. Recently, a cold was going around campus, and there was concern that it might be COVID-19. However, those with symptoms got tested for COVID-19, and luckily, it was just the common cold. It is an important reminder not to be too comfortable and that we are still in a global pandemic, regardless of how people feel about wearing masks.
Going alone to a bar is one thing, but it is a completely different ballgame to go alone as a woman. Some may call it social suicide. Others may call it risky. But, it doesn’t have to be either. It can be quite fun.
About a couple of weeks ago, I decided to get a bit ballsy. I went to a bar alone. My bar of choice was one of the top places in Berkeley called Tupper and Reed located on Shattuck Avenue. If you haven’t gone there yet and are looking for a sophisticated outlet to get drinks at, this is the place to go!
Older, mature college students, Ph.D. students, young professionals, and older adult casuals are the people present at this bar. In other words, there is a whole buffet of people to socialize with, whether you are looking for a new friend or significant other. So, why would I go alone, especially as a woman?
Well, everyone, it was about time that I just said screw it. I got lucky; I admit that nothing happened to me. But that’s not why I am sharing this experience with you. As a woman, I knew that going to the bar that there was going to be a lot of assumptions made about me: “Is she with someone?” “Is she waiting for someone?” “Why is she alone?” “Is she a prostitute?” “She must be lonely.” “She must be depressed.”
All these questions one way or another I am sure popped up in people’s minds as a lone woman goes to a bar. But, I did not care because there was no way in Hell that I was going to let being a woman alone stop me from enjoying myself. So when I entered Tupper and Reed, I was pleased when I saw that the place was populated yet mellow.
The atmosphere bred an air of opportunity as I surveyed the types of groups present. They were all different, but it was clear as day to me that this was the place to go to meet up with friends after a long day of work or to just catch up. In other words, I found all kinds of people who were friendly yet mature.
Overall, I was pleased with what I saw and decided to get a drink, so I went to the bartender and asked for a shot of Maker’s Mark. Sadly, they did not serve Maker’s Mark so I had to settle for Four Roses Yellow Label instead. Needless to say, I love whiskey, and I love to see the alarm on people’s faces when I order it. This is because I know that there is a stereotype about whiskey being a men’s drink. Well, hah, I am a whiskey girl by choice despite knowing all too well that a girl drinking whiskey can very much be a conversation starter, which actually came in handy later.
Yet, before that I decided to explore the bar by going upstairs, much to my surprise, there was another bar. So I decided to test the waters up here by ordering a cocktail, and this time I sat down, and then almost immediately, a girl joined me on my left where, I kid you not, she was recording a Twitch Livestream. Me, being an avid gamer, I was all for it so we hit it off pretty quickly and ended up having a blast. She was a UC Berkeley student studying sociology (I think) and came to Tupper and Reed upon request of her followers. After getting to know her for quite some time, I decided to venture downstairs where I would then have an older casual person who happened to be a man spark up a conversation with me.
This may just as well be the moment that some of you all have been waiting for. So, let’s just get to it. I was greeted by this guy who said that he liked my baby-blue peacoat and thought that I was from the east coast or England because no one from the west coast wears peacoats. I mean I see his point, but I wore it out of sophistication and the fact that it was freezing outside.
Anyhow, our conversation started about being in the Bay Area, which I have come to learn that there are a lot of people in the Bay Area who are either visiting or not locals. I happen to be the latter. He ends being a native who went to college for American History. Huh, interesting, I thought. So, we talked and talked.
The conversation was really going nowhere until he asked me about my favorite drink. I said whiskey, particularly bourbon. He then proceeded to ask if I had ever tried scotch, and I said no. So, he ordered us both a glass of Maccalan. Now let me tell you that was some serious strong liquor, wow. But, it was really, really good. Feel free to do some side research, but let’s just say that it was an expensive glass of scotch.
Needless to say, I was amused by this man’s efforts to wine and dine me. This is where I get interested in him; I glance at his hands and don’t see a ring. But, I swear as soon as I saw no ring; he mentions his wife. Okay, I know what you’re thinking; it’s actually not that. This man happens to be in an open marriage with his wife. Congratulations. Honestly, I wasn’t really bothered by it. I am taking Jose Feito’s Human Sexualities class, and we heavily talked about non-monogamy. Despite not being fazed, I was not interested in the guy; he could probably be my dad if he had a child young. But, he treated me well and made me reconsider my expectations about how someone ought to treat me at a bar.
So, this is my takeaway. One, it is okay to go alone to a bar. Two, it may be scary socially or seen as risky, but you only live once so don’t let fear control you. Three, it is okay to have high standards for a stranger at a bar; in fact, keep them. At the end of the day, safety is what matters most. Thus, my word of advice to you, my reader, is to let someone know where you are going so if anything happens that you are safe.
Best of luck to you, and cheers.
Melanie Moyer '22,