Remember the first and only time you attended a FroSci lecture? Bwog does. Today’s lecture hall review should bring to mind vague memories as we journey to a land far, far away: Horace Mann.
Ah, Horace Mann—doesn’t it bring back memories? Or maybe it doesn’t, because you stopped going to FroSci lectures after the first one. Imagine yourself approaching the building’s church-like exterior; every step closer is a step farther from your dorm room, where you could comfortably listen (or not listen) to the podcast the next day. You exchange a knowing look with the person entering the wooden doors beside you, as if to say “hey, we’re both neurotic enough to attend a lecture with no record of attendance.” Upon entry, you are immediately faced with the crippling decision of balcony or floor seating. The mezzanine seems nice in theory, but if you’ve made it this far, you at least want your seminar professor to see you, so you opt for the lower floor.
The hall’s louvered walls make you feel as though you’re sitting inside of a giant window blind. The fake plants give off a dentist’s waiting area vibe. There are black-and-white photographs of old New York hanging, but the fact that your sitting in what feels like your elementary school auditorium makes you expect the wall décor to be decorations lingering from some holiday concert. The seats are cushioned, albeit with a brown and blue squiggly-patterned fabric, but all that matters is that they’re cushioned—bottom and back.
But for all the physical discomfort avoided, the fact that half of your class sits among you renders social discomfort inevitable. Making eye contact with people you charismatically introduced yourself to during NSOP and haven’t spoken to since. That kid who always sees you leaving John Jay with a take-out tray sits behind you and clearly sees that you’ve printed out the lecture slides beforehand. It’s a constant struggle. As is trying to figure out where to take notes when there are no armrest desk contraptions. With no hard surface, notebooks fold and go limp; laptops burn through upper thighs as we position them according to their name.
Everyone in the balcony either looks like they’re staring directly at you, or as if they are oddly possessed, catatonically looking straight ahead at screens that you can’t see from your vantage. By the half hour mark, everyone’s posture has slackened to the point where his or her head is halfway down the back of the chair. But you’re still hanging in there, attentively taking notes on the slides that you will end up downloading to your computer anyway. The guest lecturer paces across the stage in an attempt to fill space, to demonstrate that he/she does in fact have vital signs, though the state of the audience is unclear. You can’t seem to find a clock besides the Clip Art rendering of one projected on the screen under the heading, “So What Is This Relativity Thing All About?” Perhaps the twin paradox should have used Horace Mann as an inertial frame, for upon returning to campus you notice that all of your friends have aged in the time you’d been gone.