For reasons that still evade me, I spent 24 hours in Frist Campus Center beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13. Maybe I was infected by the same streak of performativity that keeps a small army of BuzzFeed writers employed: the spirit of “we tried this dumb shit so you don’t have to” that somehow keeps us clicking. Maybe I was overcome with desire for the same reckless adventure that breeds phenomena like the Tide Pod challenge. Maybe I was just bored.
Whatever my subconscious motivation, the original idea behind the experiment centers on the concept of the “Frist hoe,” the seemingly permanent Frist resident who spends most of their waking hours walking through Frist, “studying” in Frist, or otherwise taking full advantage of the bounty that is our student center. Having enthusiastically self-identified as Frist hoes, Sarah Deneher and I embarked on our quest amid an appropriately moderate amount of fanfare. We called the event (yes, there was a Facebook event for this) “The Big Hoe.” The point, I guess, was to investigate the farthest reaches of hoedom, to achieve a sort of hoey enlightenment.
Because you asked (you didn’t), here is a fittingly BuzzFeed-y collection of our field notes, our hopes and fears, our deepest darkest secrets, one per hour (approximately) of this hellish ordeal—this tale of two hoes.
It’s me, Caroline, in italics!
And Sarah types in Roman!
Hour Zero: Prepping for Doomsday
Believe it or not, there’s more than one way to do this. I show up at 7 p.m. on the dot in sweats, socks, and Birks. I bring no water, opting instead for a full water bottle of day-old red wine. Otherwise, I have nothing but essential clothes and toiletries, plus a tub of facemask clay.
Sarah, naturally, shows me up in a skirt, sweater, and fucking tights, plus she has painkillers and a condom. Bitch.
Clearly, some of us don’t understand the purpose of being in Frist; I was only there to be seen and goddamn I was going to look my best for those 24 hours of full exposure.
Hour One: Sweet, Blissful Ignorance
Boredom has not yet set in at this point, nor has a desire to work. To make ourselves useful we start an ethnographic investigation—or exercise in aggressive stereotyping, up to you—cataloguing first-floor seating areas based on Frist traffic patterns. Within minutes, riding the high of the night’s youth, we have the entire Witherspoon Café neighborhood figured out. (If you must know, the most easily identified blocks are FrIvy and Friger Inn; since it’s was still early, we opt for the slightly more raucous Friger.)
Again, Caroline’s tone of condescension in regards to FrIvy clearly shows that she has—once again—completely failed to grasp the point of being in Frist. You need to be seen, you need to be noticed, you need to be visible!
Hour Two: A Short-lived Return to Normalcy
The post-dinner rush is nearing, and we know it. This was the portion of the night that feels most normal, and we settle into the routine of pretending to work, chatting with friends, and eating some chicken tendies. On an ordinary day, this is the time when I might casually wander through, pretending to be meeting a friend, but in reality just scoping out who’s late mealing. On this, certainly no ordinary day, there shall be no such meandering through. We are here for the long-haul.
Hour Three: [No notes for this one. Not sure what happened there. We were probably too busy painting “you dumb bitch” across a medium-sized canvas in Times New Roman font, for our friend, who is a dumb bitch. Materials were procured from a painting study break that happened to materialize a few tables over––anything can happen in Frist, folks!!]
Hour Four: Richard Tender
Picture this: you’re sitting in Frist, eating your late meal to the sound of poorly-tickled ivories, when you see it. An oasis in the desert. A shelter in the storm. A genie in a bottle.
It’s the single most dick-shaped chicken tender you have ever seen.
The dick tendy high only lasts until about 10:36 p.m., when I strongly consider opening my wine. Realizing I have completed less than one sixth of the tasks at hand, I think I’ll push through.
I think Caroline might have made more of the dick tendy than I did, but I’m sure that I shall have similar moments of weakness in the coming dark hours. I let her dick tendy obsession slide, but I am keeping track of how long it is until she finally succumbs and takes a bite.
Hour Five: Death
Things begin to got bleak as the night draws in and the chairs begin to empty, the classic early clear out from Friger Inn.
“What if we die?” Caroline ponders in a moment of real bleakness, as it becomes clear that there were people who were leaving to sleep in their own beds. Our place of rest was yet to be determined.
Hour Six: Work Work Work Work Work
I could not have predicted how quickly the feeling of utter defeat would set in. Desperately bored by the entire first floor, we venture up to McGraw to see what other unfortunate souls are in it for the long haul.
I never thought my first time in McGraw I’d be wine drunk on a Tuesday, but hey, Frist changes you.
Hour Seven: An Auspicious Visit
Our beloved editor-in-chief stops by while we were in McGraw (and makes fun of my wine. bitch.) and informs us that “Frist was our oyster.” I am unsure what to do with this information, but I am honoured by his presence, as always. We are slightly disappointed that no other notable invitees stopped by to pay their respects (looking at you, “Going” replies), but I am holding out on the hope that we may witness the best of our fellow humans in the coming 17 hours.
Hour Eight: A Charged Environment
I notice that my phone has been at 1% for the last eight hours. Under normal circumstances, I might consider this a natural result of the state my phone is in––a good ten percent of the screen has fallen off and my phone is moist to its core––but now it seems like undeniable evidence of the life-giving power of Frist Campus Center.
I have a feeling this won’t be the last miracle I see before the next sixteen hours are up.
In light of the dick tendy rhapsody from Caroline, and now this, I feel like we may have different definitions of miracles. But maybe I have just not been exposed to such a miracle; perhaps I too will be a believer before the night is out.
Also, showing up to Frist with your phone at 1%? What an amateur.
Hour Nine: The Descent
So, we try to hack the sound system in the MPR for a final jam before bed, only to find another human being sitting in the sound booth built into the back wall. Unclear how long they would’ve waited before telling us you can’t just blast God’s Plan with University sound equipment at 3 a.m.
“The bees died
Princeton has no more bees”
-Sarah Deneher, found poetry
Hour Ten: The Notorious I.U.D.
Thank god we saved a spare mini canvas from the painting study break because things are looking bleak on the entertainment front. I have a few drops of spare wine, and paint is for virgins who can’t drive anyway so here we go!!
Sarah paints two lines on the canvas, and I pronounce it an IUD. Sometimes we just see what we want to see, okay?
Anyway it’s going up in my room.
This is (maybe) the moment when I really began to wonder if I could spend a full night in the confines of Frist with this woman. Looking at a chicken tender and seeing a penis is one thing; glancing at a few drops of wine on a canvas and seeing an IUD is another thing entirely.
Hour Eleven: The Walk of Shame
Found our bedroom. It is the rainbow room, the LGBT lounge. It is perfect; nearly better than my own room: cozy, quiet, with a huge supply of condoms. We settle in for the night, changing into jammies and doing facemasks. We venture out of our sanctuary to get up to some shenanigans in Einstein’s old classroom. The door swings shut behind us, and I realize why it had been propped open when we first approached. It locks, leaving us (two dumb bitches, two smashed iphones with 11% battery combined) on one side, and our stuff (backpacks, toothbrush, laptops, proxes, the trail mix) on the other.
Neither of us is prepared for the shame of taking off our facemasks, going to the welcome desk and asking to be let back into our sleeping quarters.
Shame shame shame (internal monologue).
Hour Twelve: Sleeeeeps
Hour Thirteen: A Rude Awakening
Actually, not rude at all, and far more courteous than we deserve. We had fallen asleep with books out on the table so anyone who found us would assume we had just passed out studying (silly kids!) and not succumbed to the effects of long-term hoeing.
At 7:15, the door of our oasis swings open, a shadowy figure in the doorway. Exposed to the light for the first time in, like, 90 minutes, I’m terrified, but I force myself to stay perfectly still, cracking one eye open so as not to seem wakeful and therefore capable of leaving the couch. Whoever opened the door gets the hint and retreats farther into the LGBT center.
As soon as the coast is clear I shake Sarah awake. We grab our stuff and flee. (Or, rather, we drag our near-lifeless bodies up a single flight of stairs and pass out in McGraw. Always thinking ahead, I wrap my face in a scarf to preserve some degree of anonymity in case anyone with an actual work ethic shows up to study.)
For 45 blissful minutes I sleep through the sound of an industrial vacuum that I swear never gets more than 10 feet away from the trash heap that is me. I guess I can’t really expect much else at this point.
Hour Fourteen: I Was Asleep For This
As Caroline naps, I watch the sunrise for the first time in probably my whole Princeton career. I didn’t know things happened before 10am.
Hour Fifteen: Life Goes On
I open my eyes to find that, to my horror, “Once Upon a Time I Was a Hoe” is stuck in my head. This is SEVERELY disturbing, but you gotta hand it to my subconscious — it gets me!
Anyway, we go downstairs to start the day.
Princeton students are crazy. By Frist’s definition we have now “slept in” as there are none of the wooden corner seats available. We struggle to find two comfy blue couches where we can begin to make our entrance into this second day at Frist.
We played ourselves. Upon reflection, we realized we should have slept from one to six. Rather, we pushed the limits of our minds and bodies by staying awake until five and then sleeping for approximately two hours before being awoken by a Frist employee just trying to do his job.
The other early risers are giving us looks of approval; they are mistaking our frantic typing on this goddamn Google Doc for actual work. Ha!
The bridges midterm is this morning. Students are frantically talking about calculators, looking for batteries for calculators, fighting each other to get the last batch of AAA batteries from the C-Store.
Its 8:58. Surely the exam is at 9 and the calculator questions will cease soon. AB students just don’t know what a graphing calculator is; it’s unfair to do this to them so early in the morning.
I really wish I were making the calculator stuff up. I’m still getting emails about the freaking batteries on Whitman wire.
BREAKING: DICK TENDY IS STILL IN MCGRAW. Looks like someone got hungry and took a lil bite but he still looks great.
At this point I’ve reached new level of desperation regarding hydration. The water in my bottle tastes like wine.
Otherwise my spirits are high––the sun greatly increases my desire to work. I’m not especially tired, but would REALLY rather not be on display today, considering the fact that my appearance strongly suggests I slept here last night.
I think I am sick.
I watch a student in business casual recycle a can of Red Bull. Reminder, folks, it is not yet 10 in the morning.
Hour Sixteen-Seventeen: [Honestly the hours run together at this point. Nothing probably happened during this anyway.]
Hour Eighteen: I Cheated.
Pausing the hoe to sneak out to the North Lawn of Frist, I think, is a) important, and b) not really cheating that much, since “Frist” is still in the name–right?
I didn’t think 18 hours were enough to make you miss the outdoors. But wow, seeing sky and people who aren’t Sarah and like 6 other hoes was really nice. Part of the shock of the outdoors was definitely the fact that the past 18 hours were likely my most apathetic yet and here I am–– blinking in the weak sunlight, not NOT hungover––attempting to participate in a protest. Not my finest hour.
Wow. You think you know someone. Then they just skip out and abandon you in the middle of a 24-hour Frist marathon. After 20 minutes of sitting alone, my anger with Caroline quickly dissipates once I realize how lonely one can be, even in a sea of people. This really would have been absolutely terrible alone, and when the traitor comes in from the cold, she is welcomed back with open arms.
Hour Nineteen: Penis Game, Reimagined
I have now officially skipped class for the first time ever at Princeton.
Caroline and the Nass have corrupted me beyond redemption.
There are no outlets.
So at this point we have a group of four or five friends together, which is obviously the critical mass you need for the penis game. That was your first thought too, I know.
Anyway, someone comes across the word “annals” in whatever they’re reading so we play a few rounds of the “annals” game, played just like the penis game, but obviously we wouldn’t play the penis game because that would be immature.
A Real Adult walks by so we audibly change the topic to the Annals of Congress.
Hour Twenty: The Hoeiest Yet
We just get late meal and, like, eat it. A good standard hoe.
One of my roommates sees me at late meal in my disheveled state. She asks me where I slept last night. Too ashamed to give her the real answer, I pretend I crashed on a friend’s couch. Was I lying? I did sleep on a couch. At this point I really would consider Frist a friend.
Hour Twenty-One: Peer Pressure is Expensive
We buy an acai bowl. But we made it twenty-one hours, so that’s not nothing.
Hour Twenty-Two: Not Really the Home Stretch but That’s What We Told Ourselves
I took some time off from the hoe to participate in an ancient Frist tradition known as “tabling”, and wow, fatigue is setting in big time. The novelty of explaining what we’re doing has very much worn off. I’ve given up trying to describe how funny this idea seemed 10 days ago and I’ve just starting telling people it’s a pledge task.
Hour Twenty-Three: Crawling to the Finish Line
Tabling is like Frist hoeing on speed. Too many people. Too many faces. I can’t tell who’s friend or foe. On the plus side, snacks!
I think people suspect that this has just been a long publicity stunt for the Nass. Are they wrong? I can’t remember our motivations for doing this anymore. It is possible that Zach is masterminding this whole endeavour.
Meanwhile… I put my hand under the paper towel dispenser for several long, mortifying seconds looking for soap.
Hour Twenty Four: Free Shit
In the last thirty minutes, everything falls apart. We just walk around looking for free stuff. I really thought we’d only find some free publications lying around but there is free pizza upstairs for Pi Day.
Basically, Frist is a never-ending source of free shit, frustrated attempts to work, and occasionally friends. The whole journey comes to an end, perhaps rightly, without fanfare. We try to play “Once Upon a Time I Was a Hoe” as we walk out, but someone cues up the wrong video or starts it at the wrong time or something. Once we figure out how to fix it, the moment’s passed. We go our separate ways to find food and shower.
I don’t really know if I really expected the Frist Hoe to change me but either way, it didn’t. I left Frist tired, sweaty, overwhelmed, under-worked, and with a terrible pain in my neck from using my backpack as a pillow.
There were no real lasting effects. Once I returned to my room, and cleansed my body of the greasy film of late meal, it was as if it never happened. But not in a good way. Not in an “oh my god I still have to take my midterms and that experience really hasn’t lead to any sort of enlightenment” kind of way.
I still view the Frist Campus Center with a real sense of endearment and who knows? Maybe one day I’ll spend another 24 #blessed hours in the heart of campus!
Just kidding; I’m never sleeping in Frist ever again. You can hold me to that.