Campus Life wenbo’s walks

Spare me, author

An alternate universe in which I’m actually right

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I guess there must be some way to read newspapers from a different universe, right?
Wenbo Wu–The Tech

There’re some things you just don’t see in cities like Boston. Oops, I meant to say “there are.” Sorry, English is weird. Also, I promise I won’t bellyflop into another column with poor English ever again. (Of course, this does not discount other methods of bellyflopping into a column.)

Anyhow, take, for instance, the last time, you, dear readers, saw an urbanized college campus completely enclosed by empty fields. 

I’m not saying that empty fields don’t exist around any urban campuses. I’m saying they don’t exist in the universe I live in. How do I know this? Well, being the scientist that I am, I’ve proven this through what’s known as the anti-vax mom method: via anecdotal evidence and good ol’ homegrown Googling. 

All obsessions with empty fields aside, this is a 99.99% true statement (just like the percentage of germs that nice liquid gold Purell is able to exterminate)! Now if you live in a parallel universe, all bets on accuracy are off.

But also, if you live in a parallel universe, please teach me your ways.

I’d love to see what people in one without COVID-19 are doing with their 2020. Are they wasting it? If so, let me know if there’s a way to transmit a virtual wake-up slap so powerful that it’ll rip across the fabric of spacetime.

What if I’m just a fictional character living in a dystopian novel? Would I even know? Am I sure that I’m not living in a poorly-executed punchline about racism and social class privileges? Not even Sarah Silverman would perform such a joke!

As I’m sure many of you have repressed this memory, please take a moment to recall the Tide Pod Challenge of 2018. Folks, it didn’t work back then, and it certainly won’t work now to cure COVID-19. Please do not drink disinfectant or blast yourself with UV radiation, for cryin’ out loud.

Unlike Crest toothpaste, which nine out of ten dentists would recommend while the dissenters would somehow rather you not brush your teeth at all than use Crest, ZERO out of ten medical professionals would recommend bleach drinking. Physicians and nurses are busy enough as-is. Common sense, too, would discourage such a rash course of action.

Going back to the thesis of college campuses (is it even a thesis?), assuming that I’m not living a fictional life and my actions actually have meaning that isn’t predetermined by another author’s meticulous hand, I’m pulling up to the George Washington University's Virginia campus.

Unless, of course, my life is predetermined. Or fictional. Is there a real Wenbo out there writing my experiences? Would he be separate from me, then?

In that case, I’ll still be pulling up to the George Washington University's Virginia campus. It’s not like I can do anything about it anyways. Real Wenbo, if you’re out there, I know I have no choice but to do what you write.

It’s funny how my intent of remaining the secular atheist/agnostic I believe myself to be always takes on religious undertones, doesn’t it?

It happens to be in the polar opposite direction from where I discovered my field a month (or two columns, if that’s a valid unit of time) ago. “It” refers to the campus of course, not to a religious existential crisis or to shape-shifting paper boat-loving sewer clowns.

This particular campus, not located in an urban area, I might add, is at least a couple of times the area size of MIT from its large plots of empty land alone. No joke, each building has at least a few acres of yard space. 

I pass a few cacti. There’s nothing remarkable about them; I only mention them to serve as some reference point in this disjointed train-of-thought column. How actually helpful is this reference point? Probably not very. More of a neglected side plot than a reference point, to be honest.

I leave my car parked in a parking lot. In the history of redundant statements, that’s gotta be the most egregious. Duh, of course I left my car parked. It’s not like I was just gonna leave it in drive or reverse or neutral or whatever. Also, I wasn’t about to forget my car on the side of an unnamed road. I swear… that’s uh… never happened before.

I take a look around and find the quality content I was looking for. No, it’s not this article. It’s that I had parked right beside a pest extermination and household cleaning company. Great. 

The lights in that office are on, and I could see a few faint shadows moving inside. Even in the time of corona, pest extermination is still “essential.” Maybe it’s because of COVID-19 that this company’s services are still in need. Run out of disinfectant at home? No problem!

I’ve seen all these posts and memes online about the Earth “healing” and dolphins returning to Venetian canals due to reduced human disturbance. What if household pests operated in the same way? 

Or alternatively, if I think too hard about this, I might just dig myself into a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, about how all the other animals (heck, I’ll even throw in a few plants) have formulated a master plan to usurp human governments and become our overlords.

If I am living in a fictional world, then dear author, please make this happen just so I can quietly observe before being drafted into the Chicken Feed War or Great Squirrel Nut Battle of the 2020s. Oh, the cruelty of an author’s unforgiving pen. Or typewriter. Or laptop. Or whatever floats your boat, dear author. I don’t judge you. I swear.

Speaking of chickens, by the way, another thing you don’t see in (yankee) cities like Boston are these fast-food stores plastered all over with “Chick-fil-Eyy” in some godawful illegible font. I mention this, of course, because about a mile from where I parked, I pass by such an establishment. 

I’ve changed the name of the chain restaurant a teensy bit to prevent conflicts regarding what I’m about to say next.

As someone from Texas, my elementary school teachers were all obsessed with this place.

I distinctly remember that during a fourth-grade assembly, the principal and vice principal dressed up in these ridiculous Winnie the Pooh and Tigger body suits, respectively. 

The principal then mused on how “fat” he’s gotten from all the Chick-fil-Eyy he’s had over the week and the vice principal emerged from a dark corner of the stage and remarked about how she could no longer hop because she, too, had gotten “fatter.”

And that’s the mental reference point that I use every time my body image issues reemerge.

I mean, to be fair, Chick-fil-Eyy’s waffle fries, spicy chicken sandwich, and signature sauces were good from what I remember. I honestly can’t decide whether their lack of locations in Boston is a good or bad thing.

To be entirely fair (with nothing against their nice employees, of course), their CEO had previously donated to anti-LGBT organizations to the point where there’s a whole Wikipedia article and a half about it. 

Oops. That’s gotta be a couple hundred strikes in my rainbow-covered record-keeping notebook.

They’ve tried to rectify this over the past few years, as I’ve just learned from reading the Wikipedia article. Still, companies often only do such things to save face.

Regardless, I tarry no more staring at the Chick-fil-Eyy’s crowded drive-thru. Can I mention how amusing it is that Google Docs wants to autocorrect “Chick-fil-Eyy’s” to “Chick-fil-Eyes”? Ah, the surprises of writing against an AI.

Actually, I’m not sure if it’s actually an AI behind spellcheck. This is also why I’m not a computer science major. Heck, when I see “AI,” I don’t see “A” “I.” I see the pinyin for the Chinese word for love, 爱, vaguely pronounced “aye.” This might, alternatively, be a symptom of a lack of intelligence on my part.

Whatever. I’m sure I’m right in an alternate universe, the same one in which they finally unearthed world peace by agreeing upon the pronunciation of “GIF.”

I suppose I could do some of that Googling again to figure out how spellcheck works, but I’m tired so I might need to Reston it for a bit.

And because I’m tired, I decide to head back to my car and head home. Is this one of the first columns where I actually close the column exactly where I started and don’t leave the reader to assume I teleported home by magic? Probably!

I’ll leave y’all with the most #deep (fried) question I can think of as of press time. Assuming you actually eat it, how do y’all fry your chicken filets? Let me know of a nice homemade recipe so that I can make my own sandwiches!