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Obie Conversations
Added to site November 24, 2017


Background:  Here are some of the vignettes of student life at Oberlin College which I found scattered through the pages of the 1965 yearbook, the Hi-O-Hi.  That best-seller went out of print long before the Internet came along, so I'm taking this opportunity to pass these words along to a wider world.   I've added the headings to set each scene, along with page numbers for reference.

(One scene mentions "Woodrow Wilsons."  At the time, Woodrow Wilson Fellowships were an American version of Rhodes Scholarships, supporting up to a thousand graduate students each year.  Professors nominated promising seniors to receive them.)

The dialogues were written by Phil Furia, an English major in the Class of '65.  In later life, Philip became a professor in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.




September:  During Orientation

Hi!  Are you a freshman ... too?
Yes ... I am ...
I thought you might like to go to this ... uh ... show they have for us ... with me ...
... I'd like to ... it's at Hall, isn't it?
Yes, that's at the other side of campus, I think.
I guess ... I'll get my coat ...

— Two Hours Later, after a Revue Lampooning Campus Life —

My, that certainly was ... interesting ...
Yes.  They're all so ... talented.
I think it was all in fun ... I mean ... it couldn't be that bad.
No, I'm sure that ... down deep inside ... they all love it here.
Sure ... but it almost makes you want to check when the next bus leaves ... or something.
Yeah ... 4:45 P.M.



December:  Up in the Stacks at the Carnegie Library

I don't know any of these people.
Neither do I.  You never see them around.
Yeah.  They live up here for four years.
Then they come out of the woodwork to get their Woodrow Wilsons.
You going down?
Yeah, you want to get a coffee?
No, I have to find that book.



March:  Comparing Test Grades

How'd you do?
I was really shocked.  B+.
I thought you were afraid you'd flunked it.
I was.  I guess I just happened to know what he decided to ask.
How'd you do?
Not very well.
Really?  He probably won't count it a lot.
Maybe.  By the way...
D'you think you could give me back the notes I lent you to study with?
Oh, yeah, sure.  I'll try to make it to the next class.



September:  Starting a Class with an Unfamiliar Professor

You're taking this, too?
Yeah, I heard it was good.
No, my roommate had it last year.  The guy failed a third of the class.  My roommate says he really doesn't know that much about the subject.
I heard he lets you on your own pretty much.
That's 'cause he's working on a book.
What are you taking it for then?
It's my major.
So how was your summer?



December:  Progress Report

Did you get your paper done?
No, I'm still working on it.  What about you?
I got it in last night.  Took it out to his house.
How long was it?
It came out to around 18 pages.
Oh, well, that explains it.  Mine looks like it might be around 30.
Well, I've got an elite typewriter, so you figure it'd be about 25 or 26 on a pica.  Besides, I use narrow margins.
Thirty pages, single-spaced. 



March:  In the Allen Art Museum

Beautiful, isn't it?
The painting.
Oh.  I don't care for the chiaroscuro.
What about this one?  Just lovely!
You really think so?  The impasto really leaves me cold.
Look!  That one over there.  That's my very favorite in the whole museum.
Come now.  The pastiche is completely off.
Boy!  You sure know a lot about art.
Of course.  That's my major.  Everyone has his own taste, though.
Yeah.  What are your favorites?
Don't you have any that you really like?
That you like at all?
Why, of course ... now ... let me see ... there was one ...



October:  At the Big Game

Go team!  Go Obie!
Hey, could you keep it down a little, pal.  I'm trying to study.
Wow!  What a play!  Let's go, go, go!
Buddy, I know you like to cheer, but I've got a bluebook Monday.
Rah!  Rah!  Obie!  Kill 'em!  Get 'em!
Look, friend, you're the only guy cheering in the stands.  Now, I'm trying to read ...
Well, if you've got to study, why don't you go somewhere else?
I can't.  I'm on the team.



February:  Backstage

Pardon me, are you supposed to be in the dressing room?
Yes, I'm in the show.
Oh.  I didn't know you were one of us.
I mean, I've never seen you down at Bud's.
And ... you, uh, don't sit at "the table" in the Snack Bar.
And ... you ... look so normal.
Say, uh, what are you doing in the show?
I ... I'm the lead.



May:  Philosophizing

     People are ...

The most important thing in the world.
Something above and below you in the curve.
What makes noise when you're trying to study.
What you talk to in the Snack Bar.
What you try to get ahead of at the Reserve Desk.

     ... something to talk to ...

How was your vacation?
How'd you do on the exam?
Are you in the College or the Con?

     ... something you talk about ...

He (She) and I have a very strange relationship.
He (She) has problems.
He (She) is intense (insecure, immature, cynical, affected, 
                  artsy-craftsy, a politico, apathetic, my roommate).

     People are ...


     Yeah ... and that's the whole problem.



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