BU Today

In the World

Pensacola with a purpose: an ASB diary

Joking at work, dancing at dinner

Part Four of a five-part series.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

“Ride, ride, ride that pony! Come on ride that big fat pony!”

We are in the parking lot of the Mallory Apartments, galloping around a 40-person circle waving one hand in the air. The game is Ride That Pony; after two rounds of galloping, each person stops in front of someone else and dances.

“Front to front to front, my baby! Back to back to back, my baby! Side to side to side, my baby! This is what she told me!!”

The ASB volunteers from the Panama City, Fla., and Mobile, Ala., trips come over for dinner tonight. We’ve spent another day at the trailer, where things go more smoothly this time — we finish the floors in both bedrooms, lay down half the four-by-eights in the living room, and rip out the entire bathroom. “Screwing” puns are the theme of the day, since we are screwing down floorboards; memorable lines include, “The first screw is the hardest,” “Stephanie’s been screwing too hard,” and “I haven’t gotten to screw yet!” The joke, apparently, never grows old.

We leave the site at four to prepare dinner, which Kendrick has been planning all week; in the van, while we listen to Michael Jackson, she outlines the game plan. (Kendrick is a freshman — unusually young for an ASB coordinator, but no one doubts her competence or command; she’s a little general.) She and Katie will shower first so they can begin boiling the water for pasta; then, while everybody else cleans up, they’ll start the vegetables, the salad, and the garlic bread. Other people can make fruit salad, provided they cut the grapes in half, and bake cookies for dessert.

It’s a good plan, and it fails almost completely; we run out of dishware immediately and have to borrow pots and pans from the Michigan State students across the hall, and we cook the pasta too early and then burn it. Katie bakes the cookies and has to hide them until both groups show up, half an hour behind schedule due to traffic. We run out of fruit salad, which has had to be prepared in a garbage bag, within 20 minutes.

We set out the food in our apartment and send people to the other apartment — belonging to Amy, Beth, Dan, Hayley, Katie, Matt, and Rose — to eat; 40 people take up every inch of floor space, and the din echoes through the courtyard. Everybody has a story to tell: Matt has had an encounter with an ex-con who asked him to drop pennies on the ground so he could pick them up with his tongue. Ruthie, a Mobile coordinator, says their group had a “crucible” experience the night before that pushed their teamwork skills to the limit — but she refuses to share it, saying she’ll save it to submit to BU Today. Sara DeRitter, the director of the Community Service Center (CSC), is the chaperone on the Panama City trip; she says that so far, everything’s gone very well. Only one student, out of all the 270-plus on ASB, has had to get a tetanus shot.

After we finish eating, the Mobile group jumps up, starts clapping in unison, and runs out to the parking lot. We follow, bewildered, and then Ride That Pony begins.

When someone stops in front of you and dances, you dance with them, and switch places in the circle. Evan gallops with all his might, Dan swings his arms wildly; Matt, loping along behind me, hisses, “Faster, faster!” when my flip-flop comes loose and slows me down. I make three trips around the circle, and laugh so hard I get a stomach ache.

We play Ninja Lumberjack and Produce Master, CSC standards, before the group from Panama City leaves for their two-hour drive home and Mobile heads out to attend a midnight drag show.

Tomorrow is our last day on site, and we’ll be back at the trailer. We don’t know if we’ll be able to finish — especially because Vernon will be heading home in the afternoon — but we all agree that it would be a pretty great way to end the week.

Read Part Five

Read more Alternative Spring Breaks stories.