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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: The Stilllife sickness claims another victim (me)

Student blows nose inside the student union at Alpine Bagel on Oct. 10, 2022.

Editor's note: This article is satire.

This past month, I came down with an illness. 

It wasn’t your average, travel-size Kleenex type of cold. It wasn’t COVID-19, strep throat or bronchitis. In fact, it wasn’t anything that modern medicine has ever seen — so rare, in fact, that even our esteemed staff at Campus Health was unable to diagnose it.

They’re calling it the Stilllife Sickness. 

My symptoms began on a Wednesday morning. I woke to the faint sound of EDM, and wondered which of my roommates could possibly be listening to techno so early in the morning. I had slept 12 hours but I was feeling far more tired than usual — so loopy, in fact, it was almost as if I was tipsy. 

Wobbling slightly, I made my way to the bathroom and flicked on the switch, closing my eyes so they had a chance to adjust to the light. But that’s when things got strange. My eyelids didn’t offer their usual cool, dark solace — instead, all I could see in every direction were strobe lights, flashing white and blue across my corneas. 

I wrenched my eyes open and jumped back, in shock. How could that be possible? The strobe lights resembled those that would shine at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night, not in my bathroom at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday. My head hurt just thinking about it — but come to think of it, my head had been hurting all morning. If only my roommate would stop playing "Mo Bamba" so I could focus on the medical mystery that was materializing before my strobe-afflicted eyes. 

I had gone to bed at 10 p.m. the night before after a night of studying, so why did I feel so… hungover? I hadn’t even consumed alcohol since last Friday night at StillLife. I blew my nose, and what came out was not the regular assortment of snot-related gunk, but a brown-tinged liquid that smelled sharply of tequila. 

What was happening to me? The EDM music was getting louder and louder, blasting at a volume no JBL is capable of. I slammed open the bathroom door and ran over to my roommate, Abby, who was calmly preparing avocado toast. 

“CAN YOU PLEASE TURN THE MUSIC DOWN???” I half-screamed half-shrieked, unable to hide my anger. 

“What music?” she replied, startled. “I don’t even own a speaker. Do you want a slice of avocado toast?”

And so my Stilllife Sickness began.

Over the course of the next two weeks, every symptom, I realized, was identical to some aspect of the clubbing experience. I heard bass-boosted beat drops everywhere I went. I had sudden urges to dance in the middle of my math lecture. I mistook my friend offering me medicine for a Stilllife promoter trying to give me VIP passes.

I couldn’t stop dressing in skirts and crop tops. 

Finally, at the end of two weeks, my misery came to an end. I stopped feeling the need to dance up on strangers and, once the deafening sounds of EDM subsided, I was able to listen to my favorite indie folk playlist again. Bon Iver never sounded so good. 

But I wasn’t alone in what I went through during those brutal weeks. A friend of mine who had attended Might As Well the Thursday before kept feeling the need to yell compliments at random girls in bathrooms, and couldn’t understand why Stone & Leaf Cafe wouldn’t make her an alcoholic drink named ‘The Well.’ She was the first to be afflicted by the MAW Mucus.

And still, students dropped like flies. Underclassmen girls and frat boys all but disappeared off campus due to the raging Frat Flu, which resulted in a feeling of full-body stickiness that was impossible to wash off. 

If they had gone to Four Corners, it was the Four Corners Fog. TRU, the TRU Tickle-in-my-throat. The Crunkleton, the Crunkleton Cough (there are no known cases of this yet, as no living person has ever been seen stepping foot into The Crunkleton).

Finally, September came to an end, and people began to build up immunity to the countless diseases that were swirling around campus. The first-year girls returned to the frats, the scary bouncers returned to MAW and whoever goes to The Crunkleton returned to The Crunkleton.

And though I feel completely back to normal now, it’s still hard for me to imagine entering Still Life again. The strobe lights were too bright, the music too loud, the crop tops too cropped. I’m sure I’ll go back there one day, but for now, I’m trying to focus on my health. No more wild Saturday nights, no more weekend benders, no more —

“Abby, can you PLEASE turn down the Lupe Fiasco? Oh, you aren’t playing anything right now? Yeah…I’m feeling fine. Don’t worry about me.”

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“Is there any way you could put on some Bon Iver?”