We pounce on ice and throw our voices against frozen stone walls until it becomes midnight and former U.S. president Ronald Reagan turns dead, plus one. As it turns out, snow does not fall in chips, or spheres, or spiked balls like maces. It floats down in those perfect geometric shapes we cut out of printer paper and hang from classroom ceilings. Then it covers things, not like a glittering wintry veil, but an old comforter whose displaced filling has begun to clot. Our Promethean instincts instruct us to make man from frozen clay, and so we do. Another instinct, carried on from childhood, prods, “Now, a penis.” So we make those too.
We laugh at mystic squares of neon purple dotting contemporary castles—makeshift church glass by way of color-changing Amazon LEDs—and sonic ribbons of Korean girl group music descending from towers older than Civil Rights.
“Ronald Reagan would hate this,” we note. We mean the music, and the penises, and all of us generally having a good time. We contemplate an effigy, but it’s short notice for paper mâché, so instead we walk eleven miles in circles stamping shoeprints into frozen footpaths. The dress code is black and boots to symbolize punk rock counterculture, even though most of us hoard sweaters and take stuffed animals to bed. We joke that someone will be made to lick a muddied boot by the end of the night, and give impassioned arguments as to why it shouldn’t be us. In the end we decide we’re all bootlickers, given where we’re standing.
We cast aside a poisoning first week of classes—reveling in our pseudo-rebellion, knowing full well that some of us passed introductory economics with flying greens and metallics, and will one day become everything we love to hate now. But it’s less about the moral high ground, which is hard to claim on holy and expensive intellectual territory, and more about the idea of waltzing with ghosts, and trampling their toes in weighted winter boots, and having that ghost be former U.S. president Ronald Reagan.
He would hate it—our hair twisted in the sink of a beloved old hotel or knotted in a discounted department store rug over hardwood floors that knew John F. Kennedy. We keep saying that. He would hate it. Reagan becomes an antonym for everything we enjoy, and a champion of everything we don’t.
His favorite food was jellybeans because they helped him fend off the desire to smoke. We eat none and smoke none, and congratulate ourselves. He hated brussels sprouts. What a child, we say, but don’t bother finding any.
It’s late when we get to bed. Before we part someone says, “I’d consider that a success,” and it’s funny that we needed an excuse to have a good time. Reagan would have hated that.