Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hookah and Hummus

[The students and staff here at U of R have been really nice about allowing me to feel like a normal part of the campus]

Last week I saw a flyer on a posting board in one of the "campus tunnels" that caught my attention... and curiosity. It was an invitation for Saturday night to join in the activities of a fraternity sponsored event called "Hookah and Hummus." The location was right nearby my office, I wasn't doing anything else pressing, so I decided to check it out.

Now the location is significant because it's the exact center of the campus, the George Eastman Quad (see Web Cam here), where six commemorative red marble benches and a 5' stainless steel compass sit in the middle of a large lawn area.

The frat brothers, along with some campus coeds, had a huge "and expensive," three hose hookah setup in the center of the compass on the sacred inscription. About 20 people were standing around the compass when I pulled up on my bike around 9:30 pm, taking turns in the inner circle to smoke the hookah. This was all done somewhat seriously, but with an air of amusement, which is what this was all about. I was soon greeted by a cool guy named Jake that seemed to be the leader, welcomed to help myself to some hummus and step into the inner circle for a smoke.

After asking lots of questions about the pipe and shisha—tobacco: peach, cherry and bubble gum flavors soaked in molasses were being fired-up at that time—I stepped into the inner circle. Very soon someone generously handed me one of the large, blue stripped hoses and I took a couple of long draws... Smoooooth stuff, I remarked. Yessss, several in the circle responded modestly. It was time for me to go, so I quietly slapped Jake on the shoulder and thanked him for a cool evening.

I went back to the compass the next morning to read the inscription on the decorative, stainless steel face... "E = mc2" is engraved in the center and around the famous equation, an optimistic line written by Sir Thomas Browne (1646) that proclaims, "There is in wise men a power beyond the stars."

Reporting from the underground...

Stan Morris