So yesterday I was officially inducted into Memorial University and let me say upfront that it was a series of unfortunate events I could well have done without.
There is a certain episode of the quirky sitcom "Arrested Development" in which Michael, the owner of a company, refers to the members of his staff as "sheep".  This is followed by a sequence in which his staff, due to a miscommunication, end up boarding a bus that none of them are meant to be on, and without question or complaint, follow one another off of the bus and continue to engage in various travel arrangements resulting in them being lost, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, until a shepard ushers them all into his vehicle, presumably bringing them home. I mention all this only because my friends and I felt very much like sheep yesterday, during our "orientation", being herded into various neverending line-ups, all of which, for a while, anyway, seemed essentially only to lead to another line.
Initially we were directed into a massive line that began somewhere within a building, and extended itself outdoors, across a parking lot, an outdoor pedway, and into the nearby field. This was all for the sake of receiving our free subs, (orientation began at 11) which none of my friends or I particularly wanted, given that we’d eaten before arriving.  I declined the offering of a sub, but did take my beverage, water offered in garishly red water bottles, which all bore slogans of, "SEXUAL HARASSMENT  DON’T IGNORE IT. It won’t go away!"  Now that was a welcoming and reassuring message, if ever there was one.  I particularly enjoyed the declaration of, "It won’t go away!" which seemed more like a statement expressing futility than one encouraging activism or defiance.
After this we joined a line leading into a gymnasium within the field house. Here we were shuffled through the series of columns that form when lines are organised by those dividers (can think of no other term to describe them) that are used in movie ticket lines.  It was very warm in the gym and smelled of stale sweat. I don’t know if sweat can actually go stale, but that’s what it smelled like in the gym.  We were then organised into various groups,made identifiable by a sign held up by the group leader. The groups were all entitled with cutesy references to Newfoundland culture, such as "The Pitcher Plants" or "The Cape Spears." My friends and I found ourselves in a group called "The Flipper Pies."  I don’t know of any event ever organised in Newfoundland that doesn’t forcefully and often pointlessly insert, (what shall I call them?)  Newfieisms into the presentation. I love the province’s history and culture, but if I’m attending a play or an opera  that was written to take place in England or something, and the program jauntily informs me that this production is set in Cupids or somewhere, I am a little put-off. The nurse in Romeo and Juliet is going to refer to her charge as "my ducky" ? Delightful. Original.Eye rolling smile  Thank God we have our rich Newfie dialect to enchance the Bard’s colourless script. Interestingly, there are a number of Newfoundland youth who seem to regard their province with a resentful loyalty. "New-fun-land" my fellow high school students had impatiently corrected the Broadway actress we met on our school trip to New York who had innocently said "New-fin-lind." When she stated that she had heard the province was beautiful, someone scathingly replied, "No. Do you like fog?"
Bizarre forms of ethnocentrism aside, now that we had been fed, watered and sorted into stables, the leader of the "Flipper Pies" proceeded to lead us into a long, circular hallway,where we sat uncomfortably for a long period of time. We shared our names, our origins and what we were doing at Mun, filled out our orientation registration slips, played one icebreaker, and then had what seemed to be at least half an hour to chat amongst ourselves. I really needed to pee and I was hoping we would soon be beginning a tour, during which we would be shown washrooms for the benefit of our potential need at that moment and for future reference. However the next step of our arduous journey involved an activity on the race track. I asked my group leader where the nearest washrooms were, and she didn’t know, so a friend, who also needed the facility, asked a lady at the front desk. When we were finished in the washroom, we stepped onto a scene of mass confusion on the race track, the huge throng of people were attempting to organise themselves into groups based on birth month, as indicated by a man at a microphone. I couldn’t actually make out anything he said, I was only able to determine what everyone was supposed to be doing based on their actions and words. I decided that whatever this foolishness was, I wasn’t getting involved and sat on a bench near the front desk, practically bored to tears for at least an hour. The friend who had gone to the washroom with me left.
When this had ended, my remaining comrades and I reunited, and I was told about the thumb wars, back massages and such that people had been directed to engage in with each other while on the race track. BACK MASSAGES, I kid you not.
We were then all hauled around to the other side of the track,where we sat in sport stands. There was a bag of free items upon everyone’s seat, which consisted of a clipboard with "I Heart Mun" on the front, and a whack of coupons inside, a little paper to do with current bands and artists,a heap of Sears adverts, a coffee thermos sleeve and a bag from Memorial’s Wellness Program. I stared at this bag in confusion for some minutes, trying to determine what items we could be receiving from the Wellness Program, and the girl sitting next to me noticed, and chuckled. I then realised that in small letters near the bottom of the bag it advertized 10 condoms were available for the price of two dollars. The girl had assumed that my reaction had been due to that. I smiled a little, and later Susan showed me her chocolate flavoured condom that had been included in the bag. At this point it’s difficult to say whether a person should be offended or simply amused.
During all this excitement, an irritating and persistent mc was out on the floor trying to force everyone into the red "Memorial University Sea-Hawks" shirts we’d been given for free, in an effort to rile up school spirit. It was far too warm in there to put anything on over one’s shirt, but given the earlier back massages and whatnot, I would not have been too surprised had he insisted we all strip down for the sake of school spirit, or for the sake of getting comfortable with one another or some such nonsense. We were then subjected to break-dancers, cheerleaders, a big brass band (only a little exaggeration, it was a drumming group of some sort) and various speakers, one of whom divulged such groundbreaking advice as "don’t party on weeknights" and had compiled what was apparently going to be our "soundtrack for the semester." (I don’t even want to bother explaining that.) Another guy who was apparently a former actor and comedian, now a teacher, was encouraging us to go to the academic advisory centre,and he had the most drawn-out, torturously inane way of going about it. Finally, it was four o’clock and we were given a campus tour. This only lasted half an hour, in which we were walked around campus, and the group leader told us what each building was, and a bit about what was inside it. I had been hoping to be lead around inside the various buildings,shown where various sections were, given a bit of an idea as to how to get to my classes, etc. but apparently the whole point of the day wasn’t to do anything practical at all.
Anyway, now that I’ve exhausted everyone with that long-winded rant, I think I shall go relax. I have this somewhat unfortunate shade of nail polish on, which I would like to remove.