was hypnotically deep in my readings when there was a knock
at my door. "Come in," I called without raising my
head. The door swung open and hit the wall behind it with a
Anne Dion (center) and the rest of the gang (clockwise
from bottom left): Amber Staab, '04; Meredith Durkin,
'03; Nora Friedman, '04; and Amy Althoff, '03.
the self-proclaimed "walking distraction," stood in
the doorway without entering, her full, flame-colored hair highlighting
her pale, serious face. "Five hundred dollars round-trip
Chicago to Paris. Pack your bags, ladies. We're leaving the
country tonight." She spun on her heel and returned to
her room without closing the door.
weeks later I returned from a weekend at home to find another
dramatic pronouncement on the wipe-board outside my room: "Join
the Surly Girls' World Tour Spring Break 2001." I snorted,
unloaded my luggage, and hurried to get dinner before the dining
hall closed. Meredith was on her way out as I entered, and her
face took on an even more smugly feline aspect than usual when
she saw me.
you talked to Amy?"
looked even smugger. "Talk to Amy," she intoned with
a Jedi mind-trick gesture.
the closed-lip smile and the Jedi hand gesture. "Talk to
this have something to do with the note on my board?"
eyes to one side, she demanded in a slightly higher voice, "What
laughed. "Oh my gosh, it does. Where are you planning on
laughed again. "Have fun."
You're coming with us."
right. I can't afford that."
this is why you were supposed to talk to Althoff! She could
make it sound reasonable. Talk to Amy. Talk to Amy." She
waved the hand again rapidly.
grabbed her arm, and, clutching my tray with the other arm,
dragged her into the dining room with me.
I'd been gone, Meredith had been surfing the Net instead of
reading, and she'd come across a $250 round-trip airfare to
London on Virgin Atlantic for the week of spring break. She'd
told Amy, Nora, and Amber, and they had all decided that the
opportunity was too good to miss. They'd researched hostels
and museum admissions and figured out that the trip would come
to $1,000, including airfare, a stay at a hostel, food, and
You don't get it. You're coming too. Rachel Anne, $1,000 is
really cheap for a week in London."
sure it is, but I only have $52 in my bank account right now,
and I need to pay tuition and buy books." Meredith had
some savings, and Nora's parents were willing to pay. Amy and
Amber had savings they hadn't had to use because of scholarships,
but I was struggling to make ends meet with my job at Telefund,
grants, and loans.
interrupted. "Can your parents help?"
no. I wish I could afford to help them. I mean they aren't in
you get more hours at work and save up before spring break?"
$1,000. I'm already working as many hours as I can, and you
need the money for the plane ticket soon, right?"
suggested selling my nonexistent valuables. Meredith told me
to hit up my grandparents. Amy, the pastor's daughter, resident
master's assistant, and Community Service Center employee, suggested
that we hold a bake sale in front of Cobb.
thousand-dollar bake sale?"
could have a bunch of them. Or-we're all creative. We could
sell scarves and crafts."
raised my eyebrow.
that evening Nora and Meredith burst into my room after house
meeting. "You're going to London. We're blackmailing Zeke,"
Zeke! It doesn't count!"
stepped toward me. "Rachel Anne, I respect your morals,
and normally I'd agree with you, but it's Zeke! I mean, this
is the guy who was standing under Meredith's window an hour
ago yelling 'Show us your tits!'"
Meredith chimed in. "It might even do him some good. Teach
him a lesson."
Zeke [name changed to protect the guilty], a.k.a. "Cancer
man," "Candyman," "The Camel," "The
Cigarette Smoking Man," had announced in house meeting
that his parents somehow hadn't found out yet that their son
smokes two packs a day, so he'd appreciate it if no one called
him by any of his nicknames or "er, mentioned my other
extracurricular activities during Parents' Weekend."
will not go to London on blackmail money."
They trailed out.
noon the next day I felt I'd finally convinced them that I wasn't
going to London. I would be overjoyed to live vicariously through
my friends, but I simply couldn't afford the trip. They needed
to buy the tickets on Tuesday, so the question had to be settled
by then anyhow.
evening, I returned from work to be greeted by Amy and Meredith.
"We need to talk," they said, pulling me into Meredith's
I can't go! I'm sorry. Come on, you know I would if I could;
I've never even been to Canada. I yearn to travel, I just can't
up. We talked to Pam," Meredith said. Pam Bozeman is our
fabulous Resident Head. "She understands that you need
to leave the country, and she's willing to pay us way more than
our lazy asses are worth. If Amy and I split a job at her consulting
firm, she'll pay us $500 by March, so all you'll have to come
up with is the other half."
stared at them.
she said you have to have your parents' permission; she won't
send anyone under 21 out of the country against their parents'
will," Amy added.
do you still want to go?" Meredith asked, almost meekly.
nodded. I laughed. I screamed. "We're going to London!"
We cackled maniacally, then all spoke at once, interrupting
each other and, I'm sure, driving anyone within half a mile
running for earplugs.
met lots of crazily fun people here, and I've had a wild four
years, but that evening, without a doubt, qualifies as my most
memorable U of C experience, something I try to hold onto when
the rest of the world seems bleak.
Anne Dion, AB'02, an aspiring writer and globetrotter from Wheaton,
IL, hopes to work in publishing or education.