What Grinds My Gears

By: Kate Bennert ’12

As you may have noticed on alumni/parents/Bicentennial/what-were-they thinking weekend, older alums love to tell you tidbits about Hamilton that you were probably already aware of with precisely enough vocal inflection to make you believe that you are indeed learning new information.

What’s funny is that you can often derive a bit of subtext from these encounters.

For instance: “You know when I was here we were still allowed to live with our fraternity brothers” actually means: “This is exactly the excuse I was looking for not to donate money anymore!” Another common example: “Look at all these fancy buildings here now!” in turn means: “They didn’t spend any money on us when I was here.  You guys are spoiled and quite bratty.” By extension this also seems to mean: “This is exactly the excuse I was looking for not to donate money anymore.”

But despite my keen awareness for this particular alumni propensity, I am often out-bizzared (which is not common) by some of the things they come up with.

A few weekends ago, I happened to be at a canoe race in the Adirondacks with an abnormally high number of alums and Hamilton parents.   I was wearing my Hamilton College Marathon Canoe Racing t-shirt, which naturally doubles as an invitation for anyone to come talk to me about Hamilton College. 

One of the said alums approached me and said exactly this: “Hamilton College! I went there a couple (he was class of ’82) years ago!  Then I sent my son back there two years ago to find a nice girl to marry.” And he winked at me.

Visibly taken aback, I was also shocked and horrified by his presumptuousness.

He continued: “You know that Hamilton has one of the highest rates of student-student marriages in this country,” with the same careful inflection and creepy eyebrow raising.

I told him that I had, in fact, heard that before and then kindly excused myself, suddenly very thirsty, ignoring the little voice in the back of my head that was telling me to misquote Amy Poehler in Baby Mama and say something like “Bitch, you don’t know my life!”

There may be many things in this world that leave me feeling annoyed or slightly disillusioned, but this random alum happened to hone in on the two that really make my blood boil.  One is the assumption that I would in any way be interested in dating your son/daughter/nephew/niece/granddaughter/grandson, and the second is that parents are still ruthlessly involved in our dating lives.  I mean, this guy wasn’t even my own parent.

How are we still expected to uphold a committed, monogamous relationship when some of us can’t even hold our alcohol?

You know, that wouldn’t even work if you think about it. I’m supposed to find a career path and be in a marriage-track relationship? No thank you. I’m all about limiting the complications.

Maybe I’m just jaded because I’ve ended every relationship I’ve ever been in because at some point it got too confusing. Or maybe my roommate’s right and I’m completely soul-less.

But you don’t need to know that, Hamilton Community, because I don’t really want to hear about your awesome relationships either.

I’m just saying, I trust that I came to Hamilton for one reason: to end up with a job that I can brag about to “funemployed” people during the recession.

I didn’t come here to marry anyone’s son or daughter. 

But I am now quite positive that I have prevented exactly that from happening by virtue of this rant. And frankly, if you find self-depreciating realism attractive, by all means call me…

After graduation.