Editor's note: Ian Williams, a 1990 UNC alumnus, was a columnist for The Daily Tar Heel in the spring 1990 semester. The column ran Jan 17, 1990 — that night, the Tar Heels stomped the Blue Devils by 19.
I recall a strange and hazy time about four and a half years ago, fretting in the sweltering heat of Hinton James 244, sitting on my bed while the rest of the residents scurried outside.
My suitemate from Brevard was parading his spittle collection, a particularly nauseating mass of his oral waste that he kept in three 2-liter bottles above the door. My roommate spoke in a dialect from Edenton that barely passed for anything on our side of the language tree, and the only things I had to wear in the 105-degree weather were corduroy pants from my goofball private high school. Tripping over bricks, showing up for classes in rooms miles away from where the classes were taught and getting lost by the water tower, I might as well have had a huge placard wrapped around my neck that said "Oh so clueless" and a number to call in case anybody found me peeing in his yard.
But there was a time before that. I call it The Time When I Thought I Wanted to Go to Duke.
For some unexplainable reasons having to do with planetary alignment or a chemical imbalance, I was set on going to that university in Durham. My high school in Virginia brainwashed us all into thinking that if we didn't end up going to either Duke, UVA, or one of the Ivys we would surely end up stocking Pampers at Wal-Mart. So off I scuttled to those schools, all bushy-tailed and bated, hopin' to impress some institutes of higher learning. By the time I got to visiting Duke, however, the luster of college had begun to dull into a bleak haze.
My tour guide's name was Lorna — no lie — and she spoke in a loud, brash voice that seemed to shake the leaves from the cute little shrubberies. "And on your left is Duke Chapel, the centerpiece of our Gothic campus. Our university is considered by many to be the most beautiful campus in America."
"Umm, excuse me," I said, "Where do all the kids live?"
"The kids," she said, in a voice of utter disdain reserved only for parents whose child has been very, very naughty. "The Duke student body mostly lives in the buildings you are looking at right here, with the beautiful Gothic architecture."