Wednesday, September 30, 2009

#54: Standing at Football Games (but not really)

Notre Dame Students love standing during the football games.  They love drunkenly standing on the bleachers, wearing shirts that they hate (see #2), cheering out of sync, and making crazy arm and hand motions when the band plays menacing sound bites.  Notre Dame Students love to act in solidarity with the football team by never sitting down. 

Or do they?

As a collective the Notre Dame Students Body loves to stand during the football games, but Notre Dame Students individually do not like to stand at football games one bit.  Whether you call it a collective action problem or blatant peer pressure, Notre Dame Students secretly hate to stand at football games and only do it because everybody else is.

Notre Dame Student’s hatred of standing at football games is most frequently seen at halftime of the games.  It is not evidenced by the students actually sitting down (because this would obviously happen) but in the swift and decisive way that students lower themselves to the bleachers.  As soon as the halftime whistle blows, students sit down as if their legs are going to fall off if they do not.  Students will then remain sitting throughout halftime, unless the band happens to play a song that they like (see #9 and #51).

The most obvious proof that Notre Dame Students actually prefer sitting down during football games however, can be seen once these students graduate and become alums.  If the individuals who make up the Notre Dame Student Body really did love to stand, then the alums who have graduated would also love to stand.  However, most of Notre Dame Stadium is filled with alums who like to sit, and students who look forward to the day when they will graduate and finally be able to sit at football games. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

#53: Chipotle

By the end of their freshmen year, Notre Dame Students will look for any reason to go off-campus for meals.  Having tested every possible combination of food in their dining hall of choice, Notre Dame Students get into the cars that they weren’t allowed to have when they first arrived and seek out eateries on and around the Grape Road corridor (because that’s the only place students know how to get to).

Of all the eateries that Notre Dame Students frequent, none is as popular or beloved than Chipotle.  Notre Dame Students love the taste of their overly processed fake Mexican food just as much as they love any of the items on this list, and for many years they had been more than willing to take 90 minutes out of their busy days to drive to Mishawaka to satisfy their craving for burritos. 

This week, however, a new Chipotle location is opening in the Eddy Street Commons.  Because the Chipotle is the one place within this overly sterilized downtown area that Notre Dame Students will actually frequent, it is the only place that they have been waiting for. 

Because of the degree to which Notre Dame Students love Chipotle, it goes without saying that this location will quickly become the busiest Chipotle in the world (just like the Subway in LaFortune . . or not) because Notre Dame Students will now be able to ride their bikes or even walk to the location. 

Before long, this eatery will be so successful that the dining halls will have to examine their profit margins, Rocco’s will have to increase their already exorbitant prices, and off-campus students will do far less cooking than the trivial amount they currently do.  With a Chipotle closer to campus than Carroll Hall, Notre Dame Students will see little to no reason to explore other dining options. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#52: Talking About Squirrels

One reason why people love the campus of Notre Dame is the layout of grassy quads surrounded by buildings.  The lack of streets going through the middle of campus not only helps to retain and promote this convergence of grass, trees, sidewalks, and buildings; but it also helps the native squirrel population to thrive like no place else.

At Notre Dame, squirrels are everywhere.  They roam the trees and shrubberies of God Quad, burrow under bushes next to dorm entrances, climb trees around the lakes, and run across sidewalks with nothing to fear.  While most students call Notre Dame home, they are merely passing thru; these squirrels will truly never experience life outside the bubble.

These squirrels are not ordinary squirrels, however, but are unusually plump because they make their home at Notre Dame.  While many theories explain the abnormally large squirrels at Notre Dame, the best explanation for their excess is their diet that not only contains nuts, leaves, and natural byproducts of trees, but leftover Sbarro pizzas and half-empty Keystone Lights they find in the dumpsters behind the dorms.

Because of the squirrels’ unusual heft, Notre Dame Students have become obsessed with them.  Notre Dame Students will talk about squirrels far more often than necessary; they will write Observer Viewpoint letters about squirrels, they will take pictures of the squirrels, they leave food in strange places for the squirrels, and they might even name their bookstore basketball teams after squirrels.

At the end of the day, however, the squirrels at Notre Dame are no different than those anywhere else in the world (or at least the greater Midwest) except for the fact that they are talked about by Notre Dame Students in excessively unnecessary ways. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

#51: Africa (the song)

Long time readers of this site know that Notre Dame Students love Africa (see #1), but what they might not be aware of is that there are two types of Africa that Notre Dame Students Like.  The first is, and more obvious one, is the continent; while the second, and less obvious one, is the 1982 hit song by the band Toto.

Its gonna take a lot to drag me away from you/
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do/
I bless the rains down in Africa/
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had.

Notre Dame Students love this song and play it more often than any song by Toto should ever be played.  It is played at parties, weddings, tailgates, dances, and is one of the few songs that regularly appears on the playlist at both Finny’s and The Backer.  This song is firmly entrenched on the Notre Dame Playlist.

But why do Notre Dame Students love the song?  Is it because of the lyrics they don’t really know the words to?  Is it because of the chorus that they love to belt out while covered in sweat and clutching their hands around a Keystone Light or a Long Island Iced Tea?  Is it because off the awesome background instrumentals?  Is it because of the sweet percussion break that makes even the most passive of Notre Dame Students bust out some air drums?


Notre Dame Students love this song simply because of how much they like Africa (the continent).  Notre Dame Students love of Africa (the continent) is so great that as a corollary they will love almost anything that relates to or discusses the continent.  Notre Dame Students also love the song Do They Know It’s Christmas?, the film Hotel Rwanda, and the episodes of ER that feature storylines in Africa.  However, no piece of entertainment is beloved as much by Notre Dame Students because of the Africa Corollary than the song by Toto that students will sing at any time of any night they hear it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

#50: Telling Time in Terms of Football Opponents

Football is an incredibly important part of student life at Notre Dame, and almost every student plans their fall semester around the football schedule. Some students register for classes knowing that they will be attending various away football games, while other students take lighter course loads just to account for the toll that football season will take on their lives each week. Because of this incredible importance, students tell time in the fall in terms of football opponents.

If something is going to happen three weeks from now (with now being Michigan week), a student would not describe the event as happening three weeks from now, but they would describe the event as happening during Washington week. If their parents are coming into town next weekend, they would describe this as saying that their parents are coming into town for the Michigan State game. Midterm week [at least this year] is not described as midterm week, but is described as USC week.

The football schedule, therefore, is more than just a list of games that the football team plays, but a way for students to relate things that happen throughout their fall semesters. Students throw parties during specific weekends that relate to the team they are playing, friends and relatives come to visit depending on the team they are playing, students travel to different areas of the country depending on the team they are playing, and the excitement level on campus throughout the week is all determined by the team the football team is playing.

A year ago this weekend, there were torrential downpours throughout South Bend for much of the week. While this trivial tidbit of weather might not be important, it can be widely recalled by Notre Dame Students because it happened during Michigan weekend. Students can recall what happened a year ago, because they have a vivid memory of the football opponent. Five weeks from now students will throw parties and be eagerly celebrating across campus in anticipation of the USC game; they know what they will be doing on Friday October 16th, because they know the football opponent.

Each week a different opponent comes to town and this opponent, for better or worse, will define the weekends until December when football season will end and the weeks become much more difficult to define, and a lot more unpredictable

Monday, September 7, 2009

#49: Sweatpants

Notre Dame Students love sweatpants. While this is not shocking because of the cold temperatures that are almost always prevalent, the degree to which Notre Dame Students wear sweatpants is exorbitantly high. At Notre Dame, sweatpants can be worn for any and every occasion and are almost always appropriate even when they are inappropriate.

In most areas of the country and world, sweatpants are only really appropriate for people when they are working out or relaxing in the comfort of their own homes. People might wear sweatpants when they are jogging or when they are watching a movie in their family room, but they will rarely wear sweatpants out of the house for an endeavor that is not based in athletics.

At Notre Dame, students wear sweatpants everywhere. While it is almost never appropriate, students wear sweatpants to class more often than not. Notre Dame Professors are awestruck by the level of informality that students bring to the classroom wearing hoodies and sweatpants to classes like they are training to run a marathon. These students don’t think anything of their outfits as they are dressing similarly to the rest of their peers.

Not only do Notre Dame Students wear sweatpants to class, but they also wear sweatpants to mass. In many parts of the world going to mass is one of the most formal parts of the week that sees parishioners dress up quite formally on Sundays. At Notre Dame, however, dorm masses make it possible for students to worship on Sunday nights without changing out of their sweatpants, sandals, and t-shirts. While these masses probably are some of the holiest outside of the Vatican, they are also some of the most informal due to Notre Dame Student’s favoritism for sweatpants.

Because Notre Dame Students like to wear sweatpants so much, they also are sure to make customized pairs of sweatpants a lot. Just as Notre Dame Students like to make T-Shirts (see #35) they also like to make sweatpants to wear with their customized t-shirts. Students will make sweatpants for their dorms, sweatpants for clubs, and sweatpants for their class. The only question will be: what color do they want their sweatpants to be?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

#48: Songs that were popular 6-12 months ago

In the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother* one of the main characters (Robin) hails from Canada and must explain to her friends how music trends take longer to make it to Canada.  While this may or may not be true for the country to the north of ours that Notre Dame Students use to exploit more lenient drinking laws (see #34) it is puzzlingly similar to the tastes Notre Dame Students have for music.

Whether they are too busy studying, praying, or watching football games; for some reason it takes Notre Dame Students much longer to find new songs to enjoy than the rest of the country.  While this phenomenon is inexplicable by conventional means, it can be examined by looking at songs that have become popular over the past year. 

For example, Miley Cyrus’s song See You Again was released nearly two years ago, became popular in the Summer of 2008, and has been playing in Notre Dame bars ever since.  While this song is unquestionably a fine choice to play at Finny’s and The Backer; it has worn out its welcome at nearly every other place in the country outside of a Best of Both World’s Concert (or whatever she calls it these days).  However, Notre Dame Students continue to request the song and enjoy it like it is the hip new thing or a treasured classic (something it will never be).

Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible to spin a radio dial anywhere in the country without hearing the Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling on several stations.  The song has been at or near the top of the charts for over two months yet is still roughly five months away from becoming a staple at bars and dorm parties.  It might be heard occasionally at Notre Dame, but come January it will be ubiquitous.

This trend has been going strong for several years as well.  Previous songs that Notre Dame Students embraced long past their welcome (and still are embracing) include Taylor Swift’s Love Story, Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone, Fall Out Boy’s Sugar, We Goin Down, and Estelle’s American Boy (feat. Kanye).  While these songs all had their moment for most of the country, that moment was continued far too long for Notre Dame Students.  

*Returns to CBS on Monday, September 21st at 8:00 ET . . . trust me, just watch it.