Victoria Wills and Mark Hay engage in a battle of local subway stops. Read this and more in the upcoming April issue of The Blue & White.
AFFIRMATIVE—116th or Bust
by Victoria Wills
Mark asked me to commit.
He wanted me to pick a side, buy a ticket, and follow him all the way. What Mark failed to mention is that once you’re in, the only way out is the way you came. He asked me to meet him at the 110th stop.
It’s not the first time he’s pulled this. For weeks, Mark has tried yanking me away from 116th. Which is to say, distancing me from all that is beautiful, all that is familiar, all that sits close to home. In both proximity and aesthetics, 116th personifies what I value; Mark has proven time and time again that he just doesn’t give a shit.
A relationship means meeting in the middle, and Mark can’t seem to grasp that. Things have to be his way. If he opened his mind for even a moment, he might realize that there is absolutely no logical reason to walk six extra blocks to the subway.
Sure, he’ll probably give you some anachronistic, aphoristic wisdom about the merits of strolling Broadway—some of that Baudelairean hogwash he tends to spew. For all his talk of superiority, Mark is no more than a manipulative, pseudointellectual name-dropper, unable to face reality.
Fine. I can play his game. To borrow Mark’s pretentious rhetoric: why, if more intellectually stimulating, does the journey to the 110th dump the unlucky rider in The Cave? The 110th stop is claustrophobic. It is poorly lit, noisy, and has no windows to the outside world. Devoid of the lofty arched ceilings and tiled mosaic of my beloved 116th, that southerly station feels placeless—a dark world of meaningless shadows.
But petty intellection misses the mark: my opponent is entirely oblivious. Doesn’t he see that I need my space, that I need options? I take comfort in knowing that, having entered a station with someone on the east side of Broadway, I can still go uptown while she goes down; I can even leave the station entirely. I like knowing that there are two staircases, and I that can choose either one. I like knowing that even after a 45-minute trip from Brooklyn, I can duck out at the 115th exit. It’s about the high ceilings; it’s about having room to breathe.
If anything, Mark’s choice of 110th over 116th reflects his poor understanding of what a girl wants, what a girl needs. A good relationship with your subway station is of the utmost importance.
Like Mark, 110th comes on all too strong. 116th eases you into things. It’s like the mandatory 24-hour period before calling after the first date.
Like Mark, the 110th stop steals you away from yourself. At 116th, you can hear birds, smell the NUTZ4NUTZ, feel sunlight, and see flakes of snow fall through the metal grates. It allows you to be in the relationship, but keep your independent interests. It doesn’t go into your iTunes and delete all your guilty-pleasure ’90s girl-pop.
Like Mark, 110th is the paranoid boyfriend who doesn’t let you chat up the guy in the ticket booth.
In fact, the station is so hostile, ticket-sellers don’t deign to set up shop there. Sometimes you need that face-to-face connection. I’m not asking for physical contact, but is it so bad to like a man in uniform?
At least tell me this: when you have $1.90 left on your Metrocards, who, Mark, will consolidate them? Not anyone at the 110th station, and certainly not me.
NEGATIVE—110th All the Way
by Mark Hay
Victoria thinks I’m making this all about me, me, me. She acts like I’m trying to control her, to own her, to lock her down in this one-way stairway to what I presume she thinks is a living hell.
Well, though most Columbians do see it that way, the borderlands of 110th are not the River Lethe; each successive subway stop south of 116th is not another circle of Hell. Manhattan Valley was not laid out by Dante Alighieri. Nor is it about commitment. My insistence on using the 110th subway stop is about self-respect, dedication, and an everyday practical education that Little Miss Columbia Bubble 2014 needs to drill into her head if she wants to make it in the real world.
Because that’s what the 110th stop is: The Real World. Where people stop being polite and start getting real. Or at least they stop being anthropology majors and start getting real jobs.
Victoria tries to convince me to meet her at 116th because it has choices. It’s a station made for someone who comes tearing in at the last minute, having miscalculated the time, but knows that just so long as they make it to any corner of 116th, they’ll be fine. But 110th takes preci- sion. It takes situational awareness and knowledge of one’s geography.
110th is for those who sharpen their minds in their everyday lives and believe in forethought and punctuality. 116th is for people who can’t live without iPhone navigation and a constant connection to GCal.
But, Victoria protests, it’s not all about the entrances. It’s about proximity. It makes no sense for her to hoof it all the way to 110th. And to that I say for shame, Victoria, for shame. You are truly a sloth. I bet you order all of your food via GrubHub. We scholars are an atrophied breed. If you have ever stood out front of Butler, you will realize that all the students within and hipsters without are chicken-legged and brittle. They hobble on their stilt-shins over to the nearest subway station and cling to the pole for dear life. But those who choose 110th, regardless of (or in fact due to) its distance, are of a heartier stock. We live our lives with health in mind. We are the Greek ideal of balance between physical and mental education; Juvenal’s mens sana in corpore sano. I especially pride myself on the maintenance of calves that can only be adequately described as majestic. True, we are Columbians, and 116th is “our spot.” But what does it do to us to linger under- ground and stare at walls glorifying our names, to see our institution hailed as the ultimate end of all travels? 116th is the death of humility and the greatest ego boost ever to poison Morningside Heights.
110th is escape from the Ivory Tower. It is the physical manifestation of its riders’ balanced minds and bodies and their noble, humble spirit. 110th is a reality check with regard to one’s place at Columbia; it asks that acute attention be paid to even our smallest actions. It challenges our identities and pathetic Ivy superiority complexes.
110th is sublime, profound. And that’s why my love of the 110th stop makes me so much better than you, Victoria. It makes me so much better as a human being. So much better.