You’ve made it through a horrifyingly awkward dance. You’ve carried your mini fridge up four flights of stairs. You’ve survived the anxiety-ridden experience that is registration. Now it’s time to march into battle and win the ultimate prizes: glory, victory, bragging rights, and gift cards to that movie theater that you’ll only go to when you’re trying to show the person you’re dating how “cultured” you are. Clad in your tribe’s colors with passion in your heart, you charge the field casually wander onto the field and wonder why the majority of your unit isn’t here yet. (Answer: they’re hungover.)
Eventually, after an extended period of waiting around and trying to maintain awkward conversations with people you’ve only really known for six days, the tension mounts. Your RPLs make efforts to pump you up and when they fail, some over-hyped and over-excited fellow freshman will end up jumping on a table and letting out some guttural war cry. You’ll inevitably hear the ever-classic and somehow competitive phrase “This is Sparta” over and over and over again. You will half-heartedly join in, but someone will notice your lack of enthusiasm and force you to get up on the table as well… and this is not the first time you will be embarrassed today, so get used to it. The Brown Band marches by, playing Top 40 songs and you awkwardly hum along before you realize that everyone else at this school listens to really “underground” music and that they’re probably judging you for knowing an entire Taylor Swift song, so you quickly stop.
Finally, the games begin. From shaving a balloon to building human pyramids to running absurd relay races to untangling knots of arms, nothing is even remotely dignified, so just start rolling in the mud of Pembroke Field and embrace it. The moment of the afternoon arrives when you’ll lose all hope of having anybody around you ever respect you again: someone gets in your face and demands that your unit throw a watermelon against the ground until it cracks open. You then must feast upon its pink flesh in a germ-ridden, unfathomably animalistic frenzy. Appreciate the insanity and you will find that everyone around you is shocked, too. You’ll end up laughing together about it.
Someone will volunteer you to be a member of the six-legged race because you happen to be the same height as the other participants. One girl will be disturbingly competitive and she’ll start going really quickly and another will not move at all so you’ll end up being dragged in a full split with your face on the ground. It will not be elegant and you will need a lot of ice packs the rest of the day… and on top of all that, someone attractive will be watching.
Okay, this probably won’t happen to you, but it happened to me. And believe me, you will need ice packs when this is all over. But the good news is, everyone will have that moment when they’re falling down or doing something stupid and at the end of the day, you and the other fallen soldiers will have hilarious pictures and funny stories.
You’ll realize that the games are actually over while you’re still mocking your neighbors for their many indiscretions and not even paying attention. They should probably be telling you who the winners are, but for whatever reason the Co-Cs will not really be able to give you this information. (They probably just don’t want to give anyone an inferiority complex, though maybe they’re just secretive due to their association with ResLife.) So instead of sauntering to your dorm with triumph in your heart or hanging your head in defeat, you simply return from battle, ice packs and free snacks in hand, and you revel in the knowledge that you just spent a full day doing idiotic things with the people who are about to become your family: your unit. And hey, it’s an especially good thing you’re bonding with them—four years from now, you’ll all reunite at Commencement and do it all over again.
Only that time, there will be a plethora of beer. #goodbaddecision
So, in conclusion…
What you’ll do: Embarrass yourself with other people.
Who you’ll meet: The people in your unit who are awesome enough not to blow this off.
Why you should go: Remember the first time you and a bunch of people you were casually friends with got really drunk together ? (If you don’t, just imagine.) Even though you weren’t close then, you all probably did something humiliating and months later you still mocked each other about it and suddenly you had this thing that bonded you together forever. That’s Unit Wars. (Note: Now actually add alcohol and that’s Unit Wars: Seniors Edition. Twice the embarrassment, twice the fun.)