Out of the ice

Illustration by Lily Higgins.

Dylan Hostetter, Opinions and Humor Editor

Spring has sprung, and with it comes warmer weather. The occasion of 70-degree days means students can now show off those pasty arms and legs. Either that or people are still walking around in sweatshirts and jackets because they forgot to pack anything else. 

This recent streak of warm weather brought something different to me, however. On one particularly balmy day at noon, I was in the library’s basement — a labyrinth of sterile white walls, like collegiate backrooms. I was walking through that labyrinth when I came upon a door I had never noticed before.

Seeping out from the gap in the door was a puddle of water. I decided to investigate and followed what became a trail of water through a long, dark hallway. I felt like Indiana Jones, though instead of a torch and cool leather jacket, I had my phone’s flashlight and a t-shirt that read “Women’s Wrestling Champion of the World.”

At the end of the hall was a small storage room with something very strange at its center. There stood a gigantic ice block, half melted, housing what looked like a person — I could not believe my eyes. I have only ever heard of cavemen being frozen in ice, not what I saw before me — a guy with long hair, wearing a taper collared flower-print shirt and bell bottoms.

As I approached the ice, a large section fell off and the young man came to life and exclaimed, “Hey, my man! What’s the skinny?” I was confused, it was like he was speaking some foreign language. It turns out he was just asking what was going on, and I told him it looked like he had been frozen in ice since 1970.

“Heavy,” he said.

I helped him from the ice and he told me his story. It was after a disco party celebrating the grand opening of James Branch Cabell Library when the accident happened. He stayed late to clean up all of the trash, vacuum the shag rugs and peel the blacklight posters off of the walls. He had been looking in the storage room for an extra can of hairspray when one of the coolant pipes came loose and encased him in a block of ice.

He was able to rejoin classes surprisingly easily. As it turns out, there is a small clause in VCU’s policy that retains credits for any student who finds themselves frozen and preserved in an ice block for 20 or more years. So for any of you out there planning to encase yourselves in ice for only a couple of years in order to escape some responsibility, maybe rethink it.

I took it upon myself to teach him about our modern world. I introduced him to the two current most important things in our culture: Taylor Swift and boba. Then I took him to get a haircut. His long curls were replaced by a mullet fade and his popped collar was swapped out for a thrifted Carhartt jacket.

He was startled by how much the campus had changed since he had last seen it. “I can’t wait to try out that new restaurant I hear everyone talking about, Chili’s.” Boy, did I have some bad news for him.

I was peppered with questions about the state of the world: “Do we have flying cars yet? What happened to the war in Vietnam? Does John Travolta’s hair still look so voluminous?” He got some pretty disappointing answers.

“Well, what about The Commonwealth Times? I remember them being super popular back in the day,” he said. “Everybody wanted to write for them.”

“They actually have a humor section now,” I said. 

“Is it funny?” he said.

“You could say that.”

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