HILLIS: The question shuffle

Helen_cutoutLadies and gentlemen, a dreaded event is upon us. It’s not the completion of syllabus week. It’s not the inevitable influx of DPS reports. It’s not even the fear of being called a freshman. No, this week marks the start of a campuswide epidemic: the question shuffle.

I took some artistic liberty with its nomenclature, but we all know exactly what I’m talking about: that awkward yet obligatory rotation of questions which suddenly becomes our form of communication. We shuffle with the familiar faces we don’t know well enough to have a real conversation with. It’s the alternative to avoiding eye contact on Wisconsin Avenue.

The shuffle starts move-in week with “how was your summer?!” Responses vary from “great” to “good” and maybe even “fantastic.” If you’re talking to someone other than that girl you did a group project with freshmen year, you might even get some geographical details, “I was home / in Milwaukee / in Italy.” He or she will then return the favor, to which you might even add a head bob as you say “so much fun.” The hope is the two of you will then part ways. If the odds are not in your favor, you awkwardly continue walking in the same direction through the AMU.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m pretty sure that the ex-boyfriend of my friend’s roommate from sophomore year who I now awkwardly run into every couple of months, doesn’t care how my summer went. I appreciate that you are trying to be friendly, but let’s be real, if you’re asking how my summer went then you don’t know I really didn’t have much of a summer at all. I moved back from Chile in mid-July and then spent a month trying not to say  “gracias” when someone would hold the door open for me.

Despite how exhausting and dull the shuffle is, I will still be taking part this year. As a senior, I have practically mastered where the next few months will take us:

Mid-September, we will switch into “how are your classes going?” Then we will make our way to “how are your midterms looking?” Then fall break, then the anticipation of Thanksgiving, then how Thanksgiving went, then finals prep and Christmas, and voila! We’ve finished the semester.

To put it simply, the question shuffle is the continuous recycling of “how was your (insert holiday here)?” Answers will remain relatively constant. Of course every rule has an exception, so get excited for the ever-mysterious inquiries about midterms and finals. They could be anywhere from, “not too bad” to “absolutely horrible” to “pretty good, actually.” Think of all the options!

For those of you who are fans of the shuffle, don’t worry: It’ll start right back up again in January as we anxiously await the answer to, “how was your winter break?”

Let me guess, it was “so great to be home,” but you are “glad to be back.”