>I sit with my chick-fil-a and water at a table surrounded by boys saying "Bro" and girls wearing pink sweatshirts adorned with Greek letters. Guy number one brags about how he could drink guy number two under the table and sister number one shoots me a dirty glance to tell me that my flannel shirt, jeans that have ripped from extended use, and unwashed hair are not welcome in their cafeteria. The boy across from me making it obvious that she is with him through gestures that I recognize from psychology as subconscious fear that this kid with his notebook open and a book of Shakespeare next to Dickens' Hard Times will somehow steal his sororrity girlfriend.
Of course, I recognize this and egg him on by looking up every few seconds to see him staring at me.
The University Center at UTC has been described to me as having three parts: Greece, Africa, and Everywhere else. Greece is a pit right in the middle of the dining area that is housed by makeshift banners from frat houses talking about thinking about rushing and a poster saying that Sigma Gamma Rho wishes the student body a happy Founder's Day and one from the SGA that congradulates freshmen for their hard work this semester, encouraging them to keep their heads up. All of these encouraging banners are supposed to describe the throng of arrogance and exclusivity sitting among me, for Greece is the only section that had seating available for a kid trying to do his homework.
Africa is what the layman refers to the upper crest of the bowl known as Greece as, and for reasons that are obvious but never stated. A fear of being ethnically or racially insensitive floods the thought processes of most people, so it surprises me that I was actually told that the predominantly African-American section of the UC was known as "Africa." They can't really get mad about that, I suppose (although they would try), because that's what they've been trying to be called for years now. AFRICAN-American. I sound very cynical and for that I apologize, I just find the issue of racism sketchy and infuriating and perpetuated by people who know less about the issue they're discussing than they do the history of their own culture (I'm referring to black AND white people here, for those quick to judge).
The rest of the UC was described as "Australia" although I don't really understand why. I see no Dingos or Boomerangs, I mean I don't even see any Alice Springs Chicken, so this CAN'T be Australia. No, I'll simply call it "everywhere else," for that is what it is. This nondescript stretch of people contains every other stereotype that isn't already represented, which I suppose would form a big, conglomerate stereotype. "We are everyone else."
But the pianist behind me sees none of this. He cannot see this, because he is hidden behind a tall backed upright piano, and he cannot hear the sounds around him, for the sounds of his emotions are running through his fingers and onto the faux-ivory keys. I cannot describe to you the symbolism running through my head with the genderless, raceless, body typeless person playing softly, as if under his breath to block out the chaos of the cafeteria around him.