Bring on the "Cheeseheads"

The word on the street is that an unprecedented number of Wisconsinites are expected to attend St. Thomas next fall. As a native Minnesotan, my official position on this matter (in case Ragnar asks you) is one of alarm and outrage. But since football season is a comfortable distance away, I think I can safely express my enthusiasm for this influx. Allow me to explain.

Roughly four years ago, a residence hall official with a sense of humor placed me on the first floor of Brady Hall. Ironically, it turned out to be a turf-less satellite of Lambeau Field. When the roll was called our first day, the rogues from Wisconsin outnumbered Minnesotans nearly 2 to 1. Worse yet, I was positioned at the far end of the hallway in an impermeable pocket of self-described cheeseheads. My roommate, neighbors, and R.A. each hailed from dairy country. I grew nervous.

When I noticed the other Minnesotans were entrenched on the opposite end of the floor, I began to suspect the whole group was pulling my leg. A college prank … I get it. Alas, the arrangement was official. An odd assortment of South Dakotans, Iowans and an amiable Californian lay in no-man’s land at the center. I tried to stay calm.

But this proved difficult after I discovered a bewildering set of window decorations pressed against the glass of another Brady first-floor room. Looking ominously out into the upper quad, a humongous color cutout of Paul Giamatti hung next to a Packer helmet transparency. Rumors reached me that a VHS library of grainy Reggie White videos was stored just behind the giant Giamatti head. I was reaching my breaking point.

Lucky for me, it turned out all of these guys were pretty nice. Mark and I made an ideal pair of roommates (despite his affinity for faded Don Beebe jerseys). Further down, Kevin and Cali would playfully engage passers-by (usually Rick, the Iowan) with dangerously pressurized pneumatic Nerf missiles. Soon, I discovered Matt and A.C. were the owners of the giant head, and I verified their collection of old VHS Packers videos with my own wincing eyes. But even these fellows were friendly and approachable.

Across the hall, Jim studied while Danny played air guitar for his Dowling friends. R.A. Joe paced the halls with a bemused but watchful smirk while the rest of us ran amok with duct tape and stacks of freely acquired flat rate boxes from the U.S. Postal Service. Dan talked Twins baseball with Zach, Nate and me while we brushed our teeth to ’80s power ballads. Everybody got along famously.

In fact, the whole floor often played football on the foul territory of the baseball field. Humorously, the leading tackler was the Cretin Avenue fence line. Fleet-footed Billy or Shane sometimes ran a fly pattern towards the fence; J.T. would throw it deep and laugh. Altogether, we had a great time in spite of our home-state rivalries. Moreover, nobody got hurt, and we were able to settle down when it came time to study.

I suspect many floors throughout our residence halls have experience – and will continue to experience – this same sense of phenomenal camaraderie. Perhaps much of it can be explained by the way general proximity between dissimilar people makes things more interesting and challenging.

So until training camp begins, you’ll find me welcoming the Wisconsinites (and, of course, others who differ from the Minnesotan rank-and-file). UST will certainly benefit from their presence.