They say variety is the spice of life, which is why I used to alternate between KAM’s and Red Lion on a nightly basis. I felt like this gave me access to different perspectives from students who called Urbana-Champaign their “home away from suburban mansion home.” But after getting banned from both bars for what security described as “unruly behavior” but my fraternity brothers called, and I quote, “litty titties,” I had to expand my horizons. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and go to Brothers on a Thursday night, and let me tell you: the time I spent in line truly changed my life.
I was very hesitant to stick it out in the mob of people stretching down Green Street, as I had never been to Brothers in all seven semesters that I’d been on campus. I knew that while my friends were lacking in the self-respect department, they had just enough to avoid working at a bar as lowly as this one.
This meant I wasn’t going to be able to yell obnoxiously at the bouncer to “Let me in because my boy’s already been working here for two weeks now!” So I got to talking to people– not by choice but out of pure necessity– as I was pretty disheartened after three of the girls I had asked to our date bar crawl that night coincidently all had family pets pass away just hours before the pregame.
The first kid I met was Emmanuel, and we instantly hit it off. Since he was from Cicero and I hail from Wilmette, I expressed how it was nice to meet a fellow Chicagoan. He brushed that off for some reason, and brought up his campus job at the Ike Dining Hall. He had worked his way up to supervisor after freshman year, while the only work I’d done as a student was buying up Bitcoin with the money I’d made from selling my prescription Adderall. I asked why he’d want to struggle with that 9-to-5 shit, and he explained that he wasn’t like most people who just have their parents pay for college. I was taken aback by his brazen comment, as I wasn’t even wearing my newest Patagonia—not to Brothers, that’s for sure.
Then, as I tried to push my way up the line, I overheard a group of girls speaking in a language that I’d never heard before; or at least never cared to listen to. They had evidently sensed my bewilderment and noticed me staring, as one of them asked me what the hell my problem was. I thought I was losing my mind when she spoke to me in English; I wasn’t that drunk already, was I? She then explained that they had all grown up in “bilingual” households. “Oh, so you all go both ways, then,” I remarked, taking pride in the fact that I was being an ally to the LGBTQ+ students on campus.
After 30 minutes in line at Brothers, I wasn’t even halfway to the door, so I ended up just dipping and sneaking through the gate at KAM’s. Nevertheless, I truly believe that I’m more cultured, dare I even say, mildly woke, after spending my time surrounded by people from all walks of life. And I’m not referring to the kind of culture that my FWB Brittany claims to have experienced when she studied abroad in Barcelona, which she constantly reminds everyone is actually pronounced “Bar-the-lona.”
No, I’ve truly experienced culture, so much so that I don’t have to associate with people unlike myself for the rest of my life unless I’m paying them for yardwork or something. I pray that they’ve gained as much from the experience as I have.
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