Stalking someone is like sucking the marrow out of bones. It is disgusting both to watch and perform. However, by the same token, it’s a learning experience every time and the marrow is usually nutritious. So, in the spirit of the metaphor, this past weekend was the first time I had marrow.
My first foray into the world of stalking was an interesting one. This entire obstacle course started last Thursday. My charge: stalk Harrison Frist, Princeton’s only son of a Senate Majority Leader. The assignment seemed easy. I mean, he had a center, he had a famous father—how hard could this be?
My first instinct for finding my prey was to go to the most likely place he could be—his center. I mean, if you had a center, wouldn’t you spend all of your time there? I definitely would. Ahhh…Frist. Ah…epicenter of Princeton life. It is home to the Mongolian Grill, Villa Pizza, Café Viv, the Mazo Family Game Room for Foreign Exchange Students Who Enjoy Billiards, several nondescript classrooms used for drilling those students hapless enough to take Chinese as well as the infamous Gest Library for East Asian Studies. Frist is its own ecosystem. One could be locked in Frist for months and never want for anything. Books, food, television, pseudo-intellectuals at Café Viv—what more is there to life? With all this being said, it seemed safe enough to assume that my subject would be in residence.
So, trying to be rational, I started with the most logical spot—The Welcome Desk. Disguising myself as a prospective student by divesting myself of my Princeton paraphernalia and, unpopping my collar, I approached The Welcome Desk with trepidation. Would Frist be available—would he see me? I nervously inquired whether the owner was in.
“Huh?” responded the Welcomer.
“You know, the owner, is he here?”
“No…ummm…Princeton University owns this building—there is no single owner,” he sniggered.
“Are you sure? I mean, this is the Frist Campus Center—shouldn’t Harrison Frist be here?”
“Well…I…ummm…it’s his center—why wouldn’t he be here?” I asked—suddenly feeling very stupid and starting to back away. “Well…nevermind—thanks.”
My first attempt at stalking now lay in shambles, I regrouped at the Healthy Eating Lab with a Prickly Pear tea. Several trips to the bathroom later, I decided never to have their tea again. After basking in the cool of the Lab for a little while, I hit upon a brilliant idea. Instead of actively inquiring after Frist at his center, I would simply lay in wait for him. The more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed. That was it! All I had to do was wait at Frist for Frist to come to Frist! Brilliant!
At first I didn’t know how to position myself so I could at once be most conspicuous to passersby but could still look inconspicuous about looking out for Frist in a conspicuous manner. Quite a dilemma! At first I strategically placed myself in one of Café Viv’s booths. Then, after realizing that the lighting was too dim for me to see clearly and that I’d probably look like I was actually working, I quickly departed.
I ventured up to the third floor, but finding it too quiet and far too intense for my purposes, I left in a hurry. I tried the OIT office as well, but it was almost as bad as the third floor except the intensity was interrupted by bad jokes and non sequiturs about Rosemary Clooney. I almost gave up. However, my resolve strengthened after seeing the joy of the Foreign Exchange Students playing at billiards. I thought, “if this Center were not here, there would be no place for these Foreign Exchange Students to Enjoy their games of Billiards.” I decided to stay on assignment until Harrison Frist had been thoroughly stalked.
Shortly after leaving the Mazo Family Game Room for Foreign Exchange Students Who Enjoy Billiards, I found some prime real estate in the TV area right outside of Café Viv. Here I could watch the heartbeat of Frist—the stairs and computer clusters. Everyone must go up or down the stairs in order to get in and out of the building. I positioned myself so I could clearly see both. If Harrison Frist came by—I would definitely know. I brought some Kant and Baudelaire so as to appear intelligent, well-bred, and able to handle such heavy texts. Unbeknownst to others, I was secretly keeping a watch out for Harrison Frist. Every few minutes I would lower my eyes, read a passage or two, maybe write a phrase, highlight something and then glance back up. I also had my iPod with me so as to look truly industrious. In the end, though, all I ended up with was one page of my book covered in fluorescent orange highlighter, another with meaningless notes scribbled in the margins and a spent iPod battery. Still no sign of Harrison Frist.
However, about an hour into this phase of the Frist-watch, several girls behind me began to get antsy; fidgeting and coughing in meaningful ways. I assumed they wanted my spot. So, being a gentleman, I vacated the premises for the ladies and moved my Frist-watch downstairs.
On the A-level of Frist one can ogle people without fear of “strange glances.” However, this requires the excuse of food. No food—no ogling. So, not wanting to drench Baudelaire in any more highlighting fluid, I made do with two slices of pizza and a California roll. Two hours of Frist-watching and several slices of pizza later, I came to a very important realization:
I didn’t know what Harrison Frist looked like.
Suddenly my five hours of Frist-watch seemed a colossal waste. (Oh wait—they were a colossal waste.) I was supposed to be stalking someone whose face I didn’t even know. He could have passed by me thirty times and I never would have known! I was a fool, an idiot, a moron, an SAE. What could I do now? How was I going to stalk him if I didn’t even know what he looked like?
So, after getting home and showering, I did the only logical thing left to do at the time—I got trashed with my roommates before heading out to the Street. “Maybe,” I thought, “I’ll come up with something there while the alcohol dulls my senses and makes me belligerent.” As luck would have it, something—or someone did come to me that night. While sitting on the coatroom floor of Cottage trying to locate my ability to stand up, I felt a presence towering over me.
“You okay?” a voice came down to me.
“Yeah. Just resting,” I answered—unable to look up.
“Ok—just making sure you weren’t dead or anything,” he said, turning to go. “Have a good—“
“Wait—do you know Harrison Frist?” I cut him off, lifting my head—eyes bleary with alcohol and fatigue.
“I’m supposed to be…uhhh…stalking him. But I don’t even know what he looks like. And I don’t know how to—” I gurgled.
“Dude,” he said. “You don’t need to stalk him.”
“Yeah, all you need to do is go by his room. I’m sure he’ll give you an interview or something.”
“Really?” I asked, trying to sit up.
“Sure. Just stop by and meet him.”
“But he has a center.”
“So? Dude, just stop by his room. If he doesn’t want to talk—he doesn’t want to talk, there’s nothing else you can do,” he said, grabbing his coat. “Good luck with him.”
So, the next morning a couple Advil after one, I rolled out of bed and got onto the Princeton website to search for where he lived. A few minutes later I was tripping my way over to his dorm. Going up the stairs to his room I was greeted with the normal amount of trash and an abnormal amount of fear. Strangely enough, I could hear C-SPAN playing on the TV as I knocked and my mouth was watering for that taste of marrow…
Tune in sometime in the near future for in-depth stalking of Dean Nancy Weiss Malkiel’s dog. And maybe an interview too.