Drunk/Sober/High: Ladd Observatory

drunksoberhigh ladd observatory

Drunk/Sober/High is a series started at New York University’s blog NYULocal. It sends a drunk person, a sober person, and a high person to all go enjoy (and endure) the same experience together. We love it, so we thought we’d give it a try. 

For this edition of the post, three of our writers visited Brown’s Ladd Observatory in various states of mind. The Observatory houses a refracting telescope used for research and stargazing, and it is open to the public on Tuesday nights from 7-9 p.m. We recommend checking it out at any level of sobriety. Here are our thoughts from our trip:

Getting to the Observatory

Drunk: It’s a Tuesday night and I’m drunk. I make my friends bring their Blue Room sandwiches to my room so that they can watch me get drunk alone on a Tuesday night. I’ve either made it big or hit rock bottom. I meet High at a location that is conveniently located near both of our dorms and we walk to find Sober. High tells me that his friends asked him, “who the fuck would get drunk on a Tuesday night.” Oops. The walk to the car is cold, but I have a nice alcohol blanket keeping me nice and snuggly. I’m giggling a lot and feeling excited to see some planets and stuff.

Sober: On the walk to the car, Drunk and High start calling me mama. I didn’t realize how big a responsibility I was taking on here. As we are waiting to cross the street, Drunk yells (about High), “He’s a shapeshifter! He was here and now he’s there!” High never moved. We make it across the street and High sees a lit-up building and philosophizes, “That looks like a dystopian version of heaven. You’re like, this is how I imagine heaven, except then you go in and it fucks you over.” It’s going to be a long night.

High: The car is freezing and Sober barely knows how to use the A/C. It’s cold. At least I called shotgun (Drunk is a sucker), so I’m that much closer to all the hot air that isn’t coming out. I’m not really sure where we’re going. To see stars, maybe?

Inside Ladd

Drunk: As I was pre-gaming (alone), I started to gather all of my layers so that I wouldn’t freeze at the observatory. My friends convinced me that the observatory was going to be indoors so that I would feel stupid with all of those layers. Lies. The observatory was open to all of the elements. It was freezing. The stairs were lined with ice. I found an awesome postcard for an upcoming mineral auction. It became my precious.

Sober: The Ladd Observatory is an old brick building that looks like it’s been here since the time of Galileo. The first thing High says when walk through the door is, “Does this place have a cafeteria?” No, High, we didn’t come here to get munchies. I try to herd my kiddies up the stairs, but Drunk wanders off and finds a postcard with pictures of pretty rocks that she won’t let go of. We finally climb the stairs to the telescope.

High: I tried to take notes on what I was thinking, but the only thing I wrote down is, “Is there a cafeteria?” There wasn’t. It is still very cold inside the building because it is improperly ventilated. There are some nice people inside who would probably tell me about planets if I were interested, which I kind of am but am also deeply concerned about my ability to present myself coherently in a one-on-one conversation. I book it upstairs as soon as I figure out that’s where the telescope is.

Seeing Jupiter

Drunk: Seeing Jupiter was cool and all, but the man helping us see through it made fun of me when I double checked that the big glaring ball of fire inside the telescope was Jupiter. When he responded as if I were incredibly dumb, I was super tempted to reply, “Sir, I am incredibly drunk so please bear with me here,” but I didn’t.

Sober: A guy has one of those backyard telescopes set up on the deck of the observatory, pointed at Jupiter. High is intrigued: “We’re gonna see Jupiter. I just saw Jupiter. I’m gonna look again. That was cool. I saw Jupiter.” FYI, Jupiter looks like a whitish blob with smaller white dots next to it, which the guy explains are its Galilean moons. It’s not really that exciting. Drunk asks about what other planets we can see, and when the guy says Uranus, Drunk cracks up uncontrollably. This is our cue to go inside to the real telescope.

High: Jupiter was so cool! Have you ever seen Jupiter??? I bet you haven’t! I have—twice! I was the last person to see it all night. He packed the telescope up right after. No big deal. I saw the rings, too. And the moons. You — er, I mean I — could see four of them. I was keeping it together pretty well, so I got a bit annoyed at Drunk for asking really stupid questions to the guide guy.

The actual telescope 

Drunk: Sober and I waited for a while to see the large telescope when we realized that High was not with us. He was still looking through the small telescope. We lost our place in line because he thought that telescope was the main attraction. Still so cold. My soul is numb. As soon as I get to the telescope, I forget about the past ten minutes and get sucked into a new and exciting world. No matter what I did I couldn’t look at the moon without it dancing. Maybe it was from my pounding head or from the moon’s new liking to EDM, but either way it was quite the experience.

Sober: High thought the backyard telescope was the whole thing, and he is very excited when I explain there’s a much bigger and cooler telescope. The observatory dome has a slit in the roof so the telescope can see the sky, and snow is falling inside; I feel like I’m in a 19th century wooden snow globe. I look through the eyepiece, and I’m actually breathless for a second. The moon is fucking beautiful. I feel a little high myself—who needs marijuana when you have a telescope?

High: I am very confused; I thought the outside telescope was the main show. Actually they have this 1800s-style whopper of a telescope inside where you can see the moon’s surface if you wait for a few minutes in the freezing fucking cold because, once again, they have shitty ventilation. It was okay but I’m more impressed by Jupiter and I don’t think the guy inside is very impressed by my question about whether telescope technology has improved substantially since the Ladd telescope was built. (The answer is yes.)

Overall thoughts

Drunk: The whole shebang lasted for a solid 45 minutes. On our drive back, I was on DJ duty and played “Timber” three times in a row. I think High was the happiest about this decision. After the event, Sober could go back to work and High could listen to some music, think about life, and write something profound, but I was stuck being drunk. I ended up filling out an application for something and sending it in still drunk, but who knows maybe they’re looking to fill a drunk quota somewhere in this world. Overall a good experience. Great for the wife and kids.

Sober: The moon doesn’t look like cheese at all. Drunk and I were both pretty disappointed about this, but its beauty made up for its cheeselessness. I also discovered that “Timber” is a prime post-stargazing song, especially with Drunk’s Observatory-appropriate twist on the lyrics: “It’s goin’ up.” I definitely recommend making the trip up Hope street to see some celestial wonders up close and personal. Lastly, here are some completely irrelevant but inspiring parting words from High: “I saw a girl today who just had the nicest hair. It made me so happy. I saw this Asian guy who was so ripped, it was beautiful. It just makes me so happy to see such beautiful humans.”

High: Oh my god, I totally forgot about those people. That girl had the nicest hair and that guy had the nicest arms! It made me so happy. In other news: it’s going down, I’m yelling timber!!!!!!!!!! (The Observatory was fine. Space is cool.)

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