Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 22, 2024

Halloween and hipsters at Hopkins

By AMANDA HOBSON | November 6, 2014

The stuff at the bottom of the cup tasted like vinegar; I had to choke it down. Day two of Halloweekend, 11:30 p.m., I’m close to done. While my eyes were closed, another ping pong ball bounced past

“Amateur hour,” I thought.

Too much candy, that’s all. Given the level of glucose in my blood, I thank Christ that all the mosquitos died last night. Winter is coming, I guess.

No worries, Johns Hopkins Censorship Bureau, President Daniels and Board of Trustees. I’m of age, I’m legal — I turned 21 in June. I’m proud to say that I knew the girl at the party with the balls to dress up as “Sexy Ebola.” In the midst of a table-wide territorial conflict, she showed up out of a void, shaking a pink wig and a cartoon nurse’s uniform. She embraced me.

“Guess what I am,” she said, and pulled a fist-size skull out from behind her back. The head was all dolled up; a real piece of prop art. There was blood scribbled on to spew from every orifice.

The sight of the faux death left me feeling grateful. If we really were in the midst of an Ebola outbreak, there’s no way in Hell I would be here.

My partner finally found the orange ball, lodged in the gap underneath the sofa. He handed it to me. Some kind of sludge was stuck to the bottom. I dipped it in the water cup. I threw. I missed. I miss nine times out of 10.

I’m normally pretty pressed to find anything worth romanticizing at a Hopkins college party. Most weekend nights, I take a seat on a row-house porch and proselytize more or less to that effect, giving away cigarettes to sympathizers and wiping away my eyeliner.

But not tonight. Not on the eve of the second-best hippie holiday. Not the night everybody gets a chance to get weird. This was the second year in a row that I dressed in all black. I decided against round two as a beatnik. Like I said, I wanted to have fun.

“I’m a witch,” I explained to the curious passerbyer. I had on fishnets and a dress that fastened in the back like a bra. I got a few confused looks.

“You’re a witch?” a man in jorts asked me.

“Yes,” I insisted for the 13th time, “I left my broom upstairs.”

Something like 16 penguins waddled down the hall. High fives were exchanged. One adorable vampire hovered near the kitchen counter, soaking her plastic teeth in grain alcohol.

Babe-ra-ham Lincoln tried to avoid my cellphone camera, all the while managing to keep her beard stuck to her chin.

“I want a presidential portrait,” I told her, but she couldn’t hear me over the music playing downstairs.

My week had turned around; I was feeling hopeful. The Thursday before, my RA posted a note to the common room wall that warned against “cultural appropriation,” so I, by all accounts, expected to get trampled by an onslaught of “privilege.” By order of the internet activists, I was advised to “pay attention,” to sniff out any and all “insensitivities” and address their “greater implications.” It seemed like a real responsibility.

The “activists” have a tough platform. But how exactly, might I ask, do you “end a culture,” any kind of culture? What listserv should I join? That “Pay Attention” poster ultimately made me mournful; a visit to an American college campus is all that is needed to demonstrate that the political “Left” is as good as dead. Worse, it’s undead.

I’m not a high priest, don’t ask me to explain the myth behind its resurrection. Today’s “radicals” compose themselves into cabals comprised of college-educated super liberals and pseudo-Buddhist “spiritual” spokespersons. No other time in history have we become naïve enough to believe that “support systems” and “sensitivity training” constitute a bona-fide political platform.

I’m getting dizzy. Nobody should rant about hipsters after half a handle and three nights of broken sleep on a friend’s couch. But any individual, “activist” or not, who desires to contain, monitor, stratify or segment social relations; anyone who seeks to redefine and standardize language; anyone who believes he or she has formulated a superior strain of social reality... any one or ones that do these things should be called out.

These groups are authoritarian, by definition. I’m not pointing fingers, I’m just stating facts. Check your... I don’t know, pleasure principle? Pay attention to... bourgeois ennui? I need someone else to write me slogans, someone who would never work at Buzzfeed.

It’s true, a chance to gawk at the dork dressed like a Tinder app made me forget that the word “mansplaining” even exists. I wondered, can you be slut-shamed while wearing a fake mustache? Would anybody here even care?

Then, back at the beer pong table, a man dressed like Lady Gaga’s choreographer struck a pose for me. He wore a pink wig and had a sign on his stomach: “pH>13.5.”

“Oh my god,” I yelled, “you’re a basic b*tch!”

Hare Krishna, thank goodness, I have a reason to smile. It’s good to know Halloween remains today a suitably subversive holiday. Long live the evening collective, the souls spread across webs, bundled together like lost socks.

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