Monday, August 29, 2005

Theory 2: Continuing Education

I really should have put this theory forward first since it is one of the overriding themes of my entire experiment. Put simply: I believe if at all possible it is best to live as close to a college campus as possible. This is not just because I have a Peter Pan complex and don’t wish to grow up. I truly believe that a college campus is the perfect setting for the starving artist – or faux starving artist in my case. This is particularly true if you – like me – are not far out of school or can pass as a student. The key here is to be able to blend seamlessly in with the college population. My new apartment is directly next to dorms of Geneva College.

Remember this: Every college in the country has a cafeteria which serves hundreds and maybe thousands of students every day. All you have to do is get inside and it’s buffet city. The quality may not always be top of the line, but you’re a starving artist. You might as well learn to settle for mediocrity. Hell, when it comes to food, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself striving for mediocrity most of the time. Plus, cafeterias at least offer variety. There’s almost always a salad bar and some sort of sandwich station to go along with the main course. Once inside I figure it will be a good idea to line my pockets with rolls, and any sort of pre-wrapped food.

The hard part will be getting in. Colleges don’t just open up the doors of their cafeterias to anyone who looks reasonably like a college student. They post sentries outside – usually grey haired women crones who don’t take no guff – who check student ID’s. They make sure only true students gain entry to the copious wonders the cafeteria has to offer. As long as you can get past these guards, you’re set. Trust me; I plan on running some serious surveillance on Geneva’s cafeteria as soon as I move.

I already have a few moves I picked up from my own time in college. First is the simple and confident walk in behind a blockade of students. If the guards can’t see you, they can’t stop you. It will be helpful to make student friends who will run interference for you. Another move is something I like to call the wave. The wave works something like this. As you walk toward the cafeteria, make eye contact with someone inside – anyone, it doesn’t matter if the guy thinks you’re a complete maniac. Then, Start waving at this person like you absolutely have to talk to him and need to get his attention. Then, you simply walk in. The guards often simply assume you have pressing business with someone inside and aren’t interested in food. Suckers.

There are other ways. One of which is a treasure trove if you can pull it off: Befriend the cafeteria guards. Sell them a sob story. Tell them you’re a poor, starving artist. Be helpful to them. Play on their mothering instincts. If, by some trick of luck you can achieve this, you’ll have no worries. The guards will practically insist you go in and eat. Of course this gambit is risky. It takes time and involves tipping your hand. If you can’t win the cafeteria guards over, you’ll be a marked man. They’ll keep your face on their most wanted list. The doors of the cafeteria will be closed to you forever.

Of course, there are other reasons to live near a college. You can take advantage of deals local business have for college students. I also believe it is best to live near a campus which is integrated into a town, not a campus which is self contained. It will be easier to blend in and make friends on campus that way. Also, if there are parties going on it is easy to simply walk in find some chips, drink some beer, and leave. Of course, since Geneva is conservative Christian school, this may not be available to me.

Living near a college campus can also be beneficial socially. College girls are much more likely to fall for your starving artist act. In the post college world you are nothing more than a deadbeat to the ladies, but college girls – especially of the liberal arts persuasion – will be more likely to be intrigued by a ‘starving artist’. At least, this is part of my theory, and I certainly hope it proves correct.

Before I go, there are a few theories I would like to bump straight up to Law level based on previous experience.

Law #1: Family Ties.
If at all possible have at least some family close at hand. I live close to my grandmother and she’s good for at least two meals a week as well as free laundry.

Law #2: Keep Your Friends Close. Keep Your Friends in Food Service Closer.
For the past year, I’ve lived beneath good friend who also happens to manage a Pizza Hut. Whenever they have left over unclaimed pizzas at the end of the night, they always managed to find their way to my fridge. He’s already promised he’d give me a little food here and there once I move. This may prove to be invaluable.