Frosh-cessities: The Ratty Challenge, Part 2

The Beast

Staff writer Jason Hu decided to try the Ratty Challenge last Saturday for science and shitsandgiggles. To read the first half of his journey of self-discovery/self-loathing, click here

3:30 – 4:30: Everything is sticky

I feel gross. After too much time in the Ratty, or any dining hall, you are covered with a thin layer of sticky. Grease? Aerosolized onion rings? The accumulated BO of a few hundred college students? Who knows? Either way, I feel like the Ratty tables. I never thought I’d learn how to empathize with a piece of furniture.

I went outside and it smelled funny: I couldn’t tell whether it was because I was smelling fresh air or because it smelled funny.

It’s like being at the CIT too long.

Either way, I’m going to go start homework. Eventually. Maybe.

Things overheard: “Sober at the Ratty buh, buh, buhbuhbuh.”
One conversation which went through cafeteria Judaism, reasons for vegetarianism, and Chinese imperial history.
“I didn’t know they had cities in Africa!”
“Would you rather give up all cheese or oral sex for the rest of your life?”
“Lana del Rey might be a drag queen.”
CS22 Problems finished: 2.5
Orgo progress: 0 percent
Food quality: 8/10 (Eggplant Parmesan and Black Bean Patties? Yes please!)
Cumulative bathroom breaks: 3
Duration I’ve had “We Are Young” by Fun stuck in my head: 27 minutes

4:30 – 5:30: Q&A with Gail

So there’s not much happening in these hours. Some people are practicing being a retiree and coming for the early bird special (FYI there is no early bird special). Some have just been staring at orgo for the past 3 hours (I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry).

So I thought in the downtime, I’d talk to the expert on the Ratty challenge: Gail. She does the Ratty challenge on a weekly basis. She eats the Ratty challenge for breakfast (and lunch and dinner). She is the patron saint of the Ratty Challenge.

I bow to her expertise.

So what’s the best part of your day?
I enjoy seeing the students of things. I feel the time passes very fast. There’s a lot going on.

What’s the most interesting thing?
[Students] might start dancing in the middle or they might start singing. Or when the football team is up to its antics. They’re having people do pushups. There’s a long of entertainment here. And it’s nice to know what some students are up to.

Funniest thing you’ve ever seen?
I love it when the Pirates come in and sing for me.

How often do people try the Ratty Challenge? How long has it been going on?
A few a month, that I know of. Some of them don’t tell me. Usually on Saturdays. I don’t know where it came from but it’s been here since I’ve come here, for 10 years. I’ve seen them sleep through it, play board games, bring homework.

Longest you’ve ever spent in the Ratty?
7:00 am to 7:30 pm in one day

Leveled up: +1 for Gail knowing my name now
Feeling of needing a shower: 8/10 (My clothes now smell like cooking grease)
Sound of a girl really anal about dispensing ginger ale: Bzzzzzzzz bzzzz bz bz bzzz bz bzzzz bz bz bz …. bz … bz
Concurrent number of games of Words with Friends: 3

5:30 – 6:30: A bit too much Brown self-love

So I’m back by the cereal and the Taste of the World line: prime position for people watching and observing as people file in for dinner. I’m starting to see the same faces again, and I know I’ve leveled up on stalker when I know you’ve changed outfits. I know I’ve been complaining this entire time, so here are some of the things I love:

We’re damn stylish. Yeah, everyone came out in the morning wearing sweats and hoodies. But now people are wearing their Saturday best: I love me some scarves and flannels and skinny jeans or weird-oversized-belt-sweater-thing. Without being snooty or (too) pretentious we still look great.

We’re damn attractive. Building off of stylish, we just look gorgeous. Every body type of every gender (on the spectrum!) seems to be accounted for.

We’re damn multiracial. Why do so many tables look like stock photos from math textbooks with problems involving Ming, Sally, and Julio? Admissions could get politically balanced, ambiguous brown photos without even staging a scene.

Broken porcelain: 3
What heteronormative music video I’m watching
Number of fluorescent trousers: 2
Musings: Why does Beethoven look so sad on the ad for a joyful tribute to Ruth Simmons?
How do they make hazelnut coffee?
Why is there a random bottle of steak sauce on my table?
I just saw a raccoon hat. Why are there so many animal shaped hats?

6:30 – 7:30: Last thoughts

There’s always something broken in the Ratty. No, check that: there are always multiple things broken in the Ratty. The omelet cooktops, the drink dispenser, the cereal station (how the hell do you break the cereal?), the cappuccino machine: Something is either leaking or not leaking at the wrong time.

Number of cups of coffee: 7
Total percent of homework done: 30 percent (fine … 15 percent)
Total number of bathroom breaks: 3
First thought outside: Damn it’s cold. I’m going back inside.


So, after spending 12 hours in the Ratty (technically 11, but who’s counting?), I think I’m leaving its flier-studded doors slightly more appreciative of it. Not the food, mind you: Spending all day smelling grease and boiled vegetables did cafeteria food no favors.

No, I’ve learned to love it for being consistent: You can always rely on the Ratty to be there. It’s almost like Hogwarts the Ratty will always provide help for those who ask for it. Friends are always passing through to have weird discussions; brunch is there (with a glass of cranberry for the hangover) to laugh about last night; Gail and crew always say hi.

Even the food is reliable. Blue Room runs out, and sometimes the Ivy Room screws up the falafel (it’s not that hard to wrap!). But food at the Ratty can always be expected to be … well … Ratty food.

That being said, I think I’m done with cafeteria food for a while. Meet you at the Gate.

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