Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates: Week One

After Week One, Rates vs. Slates is feeling a little jaded by Facebook events and inadvertent naked supervisor encounters.

cigarettes DoS Email Facebook naked Phoebe Luckhurst smoking Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates The Cow

Cool Directors of Studies. My new DoS has an earring and spent the last five years in Jamaica before returning to the daily rigours of academia. While many people have observed that this makes his a slightly eccentric model of a mid-life crisis, I am enamoured. I gaped, wide-eyed at the earring – a seahorse, wow!! – as he gave us his home number so we could ‘give him a bell’, and advised us to ‘drop him an e’ (such a wordsmith! Coining slang deserving of a cultural thesis!) if we had any problems. I reject my mother’s theory that unsuitable objects of affection such as this one (it was the earring that tipped her over the precipice of disgust) are symptomatic of my wider behavioural issues.

Recording information. My specious defence of tobacco – that it improves your memory – is bullshit. Admittedly, it was garnered half from something I might have read once, and half from a drunken conversation with a man outside Sainsbury’s last term, and to whom I probably oughtn’t to have talking since he was wearing inexplicable ski goggles and a flasher’s mac. For if my memory improved exponentially with every cigarette I smoke – as I believe I have told people with a knowing air – then I would surely have been able to remember my PWF password yesterday when I really needed to access a college computer to print my essay. Especially since I’d used said password the previous day. After trying to guess it and banging on doors to try and find someone who’d lend me theirs, I pleaded with the porters to help me, assuming there was some kind of database of miscellany invented to deal with the sort of crises that occur when the moronic do something moronic. There is not, and I still can’t remember what it is. There was definitely an ‘m’ in it though. I’ll go and smoke twenty fags and see what comes back.

Being serenaded. Specifically, being serenaded by The Cow’s borderline asylum inmate. After sitting outside for twenty minutes trying to have a cigarette to the dulcet tones of ‘row, row, row your boat’ – turns out he doesn’t do it, ‘merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily’ but ‘verily, verily, verily, verily’, a curiously congruous mistake in the context of the next line, ‘life is but a dream’ – I decided to enquire gently at the bar about his mental state. Apparently, it is an interesting state in which to exist, but perfectly harmless. I am assured that his, unlike man outside Sainsbury’s, is not a flasher coat but just a coat coat and I think that for this reason, his eccentricity ought to be celebrated and his visionary lyricism both admired and challenged by new requests.

Refused offers. Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates is basically an excrutiatingly detailed confessional re: my own social awkwardness. Shuffling into a supervision, the supervisor immediately addressed the gaping window and reassured me that were I to become too cold, she would happily shut it. Instantly I suppressed a shiver; it was a self-fulfilling prophecy and I had now become too cold. But, mind and mouth separating from body and sensation, I assured her that I was fine – “I don’t really get cold anyway! Haha!” – and that “a nice breeze was actually very nice, nice really! Haha!”, comments which both signified the dialogue of banality in which I was to continue during the supervision and meant that I was now going to be really cold. Why I couldn’t say that the right side of my face was  being whipped into a mottled blush is a mystery and frustration to me.

Naked supervisor encounters. No, not like that. The showers that I use in college this year happen to be in the laundry rooms. So far, so likely that I will encounter people doing a white wash while I am in my towel. I was prepared for that eventuality. What I was unprepared for was showering with supervisors. Having deliberately selected a mid-afternoon showering slot, to limit shower traffic, I emerged from the stall, dripping and goosebumped, only to meet one. We experienced, what I assumed was a shared moment of horror: the realisation that you are extremely naked under a rectangle of towelling and have started entertaining horrible circumstances in which someone runs in, grabs towel and leaves you extremely naked and not under a rectangle of material, dancing gleefully around you pointing and shouting, ‘NAKED! NAKED!’. Moreover, it turns out it wasn’t a shared moment, since as I dribbled effusive apologies, he chuckled jovially, “don’t worry! It happens all the time!” There are no limits to the hope I foster that this will never, categorically never, happen again.

‘Inventive’ event names on Facebook. No one invites you to ‘My 20th Birthday Party’. Instead, people invite you to ‘Emzy and Lulu are 40!!’ or ‘my celebration what is about me being old but whatever I’m not even that old let’s have a party though wooo’ or ‘Halfway to 40 – bring booze!!’. Now, I understand that Facebook is a sterile medium and that this renegade nomenclature is an attempt to inject an element of individuality into this disorienting ether of homogeneity. Everyone has a Facebook profile, everyone has a birthday, ergo everyone wants to be a bit ‘quirky’. But it’s not renegade if everyone does it, and it just means that you end up confused as to whose ‘20 + 20 + 20 = BOOZE!!’ event you are meant to attend that evening and whether it’s Chris from that seminar who you like or Chris from college who’s a bit weird and to whose party you never expected, let alone wanted, to be invited. This public observation no doubt ensures that I will never be invited to any such event again.

The hollowness of existence. Every evening, I am first to arrive in hall at 5.55pm. Every evening, I am first to seize my tray. Every evening, I am first to receive my reconstituted version of what was served at lunch, first to spray condiments liberally, first to select a seat. I feel a sense of disproportionate pride about beating the Freshers to food in the evening, and the acknowledgement of this pride in turn exemplifies to me the hollowness of my own existence. I am sad.