After last week’s Bwog meeting, a few CC staffers offered to swipe me in to JJ’s Place because, as a Barnard first-year, I’d never experienced what seems to be an essential facet of Columbia life: the late-night fried food bonanza beneath John Jay. Our group of four (two CC, two BC) climbed down the stairs I’d previously only eyed in suspicion–what if JJ’s was just a conspiracy made up to keep Barnard students from finding PrezBo’s secret underground CC-only dance club? I was ready to bust a move if that was the case, of course.

When we entered the dining hall, I was immediately transported to memories of Disneyland adventures as a small child–the formica floors, the smell of deep-fried something or other, the lines… Oh yes, the lines. Actually, in JJ’s Place, “lines” are more of a euphemism for “an aggressive crowd of college students forming a vaguely amoeba-shaped lump in front of the kitchen, all vying for a piece of chicken or an omelet.” My winter coat was redundant, as the bodies packed into the small room insulated me to the point of sweatiness.

I chose to go for JJ’s infamously huge pancakes, which (because I was too lazy to look for syrup) I ate plain in the eating area behind the main hall. I felt like I was in a world apart from John Jay or Ferris, a world where hunger pangs at midnight do not go untreated, a world where people might accidentally kill each other trying to grab some french fries. The pancakes were pretty good, and I sat eating them with my friends as they laughed at my incredulous expressions (“there’s JAMBA JUICE down here??”). I watched the passersby and realized I felt like I was trespassing in a place reserved for late-night Butlerites and foosball-playing bros. The feelings of transgression might have made the pancakes taste even better.

While my experience in JJ’s was a positive one (thanks to my cool friends), I missed the odd intimacy of Hewitt’s yellowed tiles and the guy who always blasts hardcore trap house music while he cleans up after the dinner rush. I missed the bagels, obviously. But most of all, I missed being surrounded by generally calm (sometimes stoned) Barnard girls instead of pushy CC dudes. I get it, you LOVE your grilled chicken. Just let me exist, please!

I’m feeling kind of “you stay on your side of town, I’ll stay on my side” about the JJ’s/Hewitt divide. We may not have edible food sometimes (and yes, your pancakes are waaaay better than ours), but we have some kind of vibe that I missed at JJ’s. Feel free to come hang with me in Hewitt as I toss back countless toasted bagels with fake cream cheese at 10:49 pm! I’ll be there.

Stacks of pancakes via Jack and Jason’s Pancakes –, WikiMedia Commons