Monday, February 28, 2011

More Characters: Cindy and Walden

Today's MIT is completely coeducational - the ratio of male to female students is about 1:1. But MIT did not always have such parity. In the days of Stickles, the ratio was closer to 3:1, and it was even worse on Second East, East Campus - an all male floor in a dorm where only 4 of the 10 floors was co-ed. Actually, not even the single-sex floors or dorms were truly all of the same sex; in fact, the Freshman Pop Quiz, administered to all the newbies on the last day of Orientation, has one question that reads: of these four locations, which one is not co-ed?
1) MacGregor (all-male barracks in the west end of the campus)
2) McCormick (home to the distaff)
3) Bexley (Campus head shop - also all male)
4) Room 7-103.
(The answer is Room 7-103, which is a Men's Room just off of Lobby 7)
Into the all-male bastion that was Second East wandered one lovely young woman during Orientation Week of 1975. Her name was Cindy...
...and her presence discombobulated the guys.

Cindy was the owner of a cat named Walden. Walden is actually a take-off of Woodstock, who was the cat that lived on Third East, one floor above us (Walden is also, coincidentally, the name of the puddle where the Doonesbury clan settled into the commune that would be their home after college). As I mentioned early on, Woodstock had a very brief but very notorious life, having run for President of the Class of 1978.

Walden was Cindy's constant companion. Perhaps a little too constant.
Walden also tended to get himself out on a limb on occasion.
Or get his nose into things he shouldn't.
He also made friends easily.
But not even he could reckon with MIT's large, extended colony of squirrels.
The "mutant" squirrels were almost as much a bane of our existence as the roaches. Like the roaches, they were everywhere, and they had the added extra feature of being clinically insane. I once saw one hanging from one of the lintels above the dorm entrance, screeching at the top of its little lungs. Others have, on occasion, been found scurrying down the hallways of the dorm. We're not sure what created them; there are some theories surrounding the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research, and others involving the Bexley Drug Factory (sorry, but it predates Stickles, so anything I know about it is by word of mouth). What I do recall is coming back to MIT several years after I'd graduated and having lunch with my brother-in-law in the faculty dining room, where I was offered "chocle squirrel" ice cream by one of the wait-staff. I didn't inquire further. 

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