Go me. I did it. I managed to live in Ann
Arbor for four years and I’m damn near done. Maybe in theory
I can see why these were supposed to be the best four years of
one’s life but surely that is some sick joke. Having this
opinion of Ann Arbor puts me in yet another minority category at
this school because most people here truly love and enjoy being
little Wolverines and everything associated with it. But not I. The
most common rejoinder I hear is “Oh Hussain, c’mon, it
can’t be that bad.” But oh my friend you are quite
wrong.

Hussain Rahim

Granted, if I came from a farm, or liked hanging out with the
same five people for four years, then a place like Ann Arbor may
totally rock. But I didn’t and I don’t. Much to my own
impediment at this small town, I am from New York (I know, I know,
thank you, thank you) and I expect more. So then I hear the second
most popular retort which is, “Oh yeah, well if New York is
so great then why didn’t you stay there?” To that I
say, that my college advisor was a foolish, evil woman, I tried to
be daring and different and that the University gave me lots of
money which it slowly took away year by year thinking I
wouldn’t notice. I see you, financial aid office, don’t
call me for alumni donations …

Not too long into my stay here, sometime during freshman year, I
moved away from actual participation in the social ongoings of
campus life and more into a realm of an anthropological study of
them. Observing and laughing at, but never with, allowed me to keep
some sort of sanity. Along my travails here I’ve made many
observations that I haven’t figured out but would like to
share.

Midwestern people are notably different from non-Midwesterners.
Besides the general passive-aggressive thing, I’ve noticed a
little thing that I like to call the Midwest Glare. It involves eye
contact with a stranger, more specifically with a female at any of
the local campus locations. This includes classrooms, computer
labs, parties or bars. Of course once eye contact is made said
female quickly looks down at the floor. Once I turn away she starts
looking again. Rinse and repeat. I enjoy this look particularly
because it is a mix of interest, fear and shock. Any other part of
America a look leads to some interaction, but not here. I saw you,
don’t hide baby.

I’ve also picked up on a little secret. House parties are
never fun. Ever. But what they are is an accurate reflection of
this entire school’s mentality. People only want to hang out
and associate with people they already know. So there’s a
party at the corner of 123 Don’t Walk Sign St. Let me guess,
this will start off with some pre-drinking which is actually the
same as post-drinking, or just drinking and then be followed with a
“party” with 27 friends that are from the same high
school or part of the right palm. These people will gather over the
favorite or cheapest beer, which is by the way amongst the most
vile liquids in existence, and throw ping-pong balls into cups
while sharing memories of previous ping-pong-throwing escapades.
Don’t hog all the fun now.

It’s one thing to have a group of friends who all bond
throughout undergrad, and it’s another to keep incestuous
pods that can only be penetrated by intruders upon three letters of
recommendation. “You know Becky? Why didn’t you say
so?”

Also, I have never seen more abominable bars in my life. Keeping
a long line waiting outside of Rick’s (Or should I say
Dick’s, get it? because there are a lot of guys there
… oh well) doesn’t fool anyone. Except for the people
in the line I guess. And once inside, what is more fun than dodging
spilt pitchers and receiving congratulations on my latest great
football game?

“Great game man, I love the way you play.”

“Thanks man, I do it for Michigan.” I swear to God
that happened.

Then there are the girls who get enough alcoholic courage to
break away from the Midwest glare and decide to confess years of
undying secret love and whatever else. Of course post-alcohol or
post-coitus they stare at the floor with renewed intensity.
However, once I leave I’m following their cue and never
looking back. Brooklyn, bitches.

Rahim can be reached at
“mailto:hrahim@umich.edu”>hrahim@umich.edu.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *