On Thursday, Nov. 18, I narrowly escaped the Thanksgiving Dinner debacle at Frank Dining Hall. It is only with the utmost perseverance that I am even able to relive the tragedy now. I am braving the psychological trauma for the sake of my journalistic integrity, a supreme respect for the telling of the truth, and to warn my classmates of the horrible dangers that may await them at future holiday meals.
The evening started out well. I had been looking forward to a grand Thanksgiving banquet all day, and Frank’s new décor—complete with tablecloths and several holiday-style buffet tables—foretold a glorious meal. My first glimpse of the arrangement and lively atmosphere only heightened my anticipation. Once I had crossed the threshold of the dining hall, a rush of aromatic delight delivered a resounding wallop to my empty stomach. In a daze, I handed over my ID card to be swiped in. I could literally feel the scents of holiday cheer wafting around me, and in a heady rush my feet, seemingly of their own accord, whisked me over to the buffet line.
On the way, I passed a mountain of wondrous confections: pies, fresh cookies, cheesecakes, and fruit, all beautifully displayed for the waiting diners. In my haste, I paid little heed to this table. I had no idea of the betrayal that awaited me.
Dinner was delicious. It may not have been my grandmother’s mashed potatoes and gravy, and it sure wasn’t my mother’s turkey or stuffing, but the customary recipes from countless Thanksgiving meals of my childhood awoke a sweet nostalgia within me. I savored the familiar tastes, relishing the comfortable, joyous atmosphere as I dined on the delectable fare with the welcome company of my new Spamily.
In the midst of this heaven of delicious food, the enigmatic Frank captured a place in my heart that I never expected he would ever find.
Sure, everyone says Frank is the worst dining hall around, and maybe he serves weird vegetables and inexplicably closes the grill on some nights. Maybe his meals never shine quite as brightly as Collins’ World Wok or Hoch-Shanahan’s steak night or Malott Commons’ Friday night sushi dinner. But damn it, when you look at the joy that Frank can bring us on a cold night, when he momentarily lifts the heavy guilt of our procrastination off our shoulders and brings us together in fellowship and equality, I realize he’s not such a bad guy. Perhaps he is misunderstood. Perhaps he is taken for granted by the students who have always had Frank to count on since their first SpoGro dinner. But he is certainly not the villain he is so often made out to be. As I devoured my Thanksgiving dinner, I felt like Frank was a good, reliable friend, someone I could trust in hungry times.
As my plate lightened and my euphoria faded, however, I began to sense that something was amiss. Or rather, something was a-missing. Earlier I had seen countless students return from the foyer with a plate loaded with pumpkin or apple pie, mounded with ice cream or whipped cream. Now, to my dismay, the flow of desserts seemed to have changed. Instead of plates loaded with these iconic holiday desserts, the source of childhood gluttony and many nights of stomachaches, I saw cheesecake and cookies—undeniably the lesser holiday desserts. Tragically, in my warm and fuzzy cocoon of tryptophan-induced bliss, I had missed a vital stage of the meal: the pumpkin and the apple pie. Frank, a modern-day Judas, had committed a betrayal of biblical proportions, turning his back on American values by failing to deliver the climax of my meal. A full hour before the dining hall was scheduled to close, the best desserts had been gobbled up. I looked upon my unsuspecting classmates who entered Frank with pity. They had no idea the horror that awaited them in this empty faade of a meal.
In my blind trust of Frank, I had assumed that all courses of my Thanksgiving dinner would be available throughout the evening. I had not thought to hoard each course at the onset, like a jealous rodent fearful of the coming winter. By falling for Frank’s spell, I had lost the dearest of Thanksgiving victuals; my wrath rivaled our Founding Fathers’ fury at the injustices of King George III. The delightful meal had turned to ash in my mouth, a lead weight in my stomach. Is it so hard to make enough pumpkin pie?!
I realized once more that I had been wrong about Frank. He may be misunderstood and maybe he was well-intentioned, but he is by no means reliable. Frank’s impassive walls seemed to mock me as I searched frantically for the tiniest remnant, even a crumb, of my favorite holiday desserts. His uncaring face laughed as I trudged back home in defeat. At least Judas felt remorse and returned his bounty.
Frank, betrayest thou the student of Pomona with a cookie?