Phil is a junior at BFA. He grew up in Belgium, and his parents now work in Italy. He's 15, but he's about to turn 16. His birthday is on Saturday, October 4th. However, since the seniors have a class trip to Rome and the juniors have a class trip to Normandy, we bumped up his birthday celebration to yesterday, the 1st of October. This is how birthdays work. We ask them what kind of cake they want, and one of us bakes the cake for them. For this birthday, I baked a delicious carrot cake for young Philip. Yummy.
After dinner, he is served his piece of cake as everyone else sings his birthday song. But do we sing the traditional birthday song? No. We sing him a birthday dirge. To sing the birthday dirge, you hold out each syllable of the birthday song in a monotone for several seconds. Haaaaahhhhhhh..... peeeeeeeeeeeee..... biiiirrrrrrrrrrth..... daaaaaaaaayyyyy..... toooooooooooooo..... yooooooouuuuuu..... This verse is slowly sung twice and the beginning of the third verse is interrupted by a lot of yelling and banging on tables. The young man then blows out his candle, and soon after that, the chaos ensues.
They usually try to run. But that is a hopeless effort. See, for every student's birthday, the senior class is responsible for "creeking" that person. This is an inevitable event for all aside from seniors themselves. So soon after the song is done, the seniors rush the birthday boy, pick him up, and take him outside as everyone else watches.
He is hauled out the back door, across the basketball court, and down the stone steps leading to our creek.
He is taken to the edge of the creek where he is ruthlessly dropped in. If there is any question, let me assure you... the water is cold. Very cold.
Usually, after he is dropped in, there is a scramble to get away because the common reaction of a creeked student is to chase his attackers and anyone else nearby and give them a nice, big hug. We then return inside and finish our meal and our cake, and the birthday boy changes into a fresh set of clothes. And that's how birthdays work here at HBR.
I'll try to keep writing about specific events, traditions, and goings on here so that once in a while you can get a snapshot of how life is here. We've had two birthdays here so far. Two students. Two carrot cakes. Two creekings. Phil is just one example of the students here who I am growing quite fond of. He really likes music and playing both guitar and piano. I was also delighted to find out when I met him that he really enjoys playing ultimate frisbee. I've only played once since being here. Most of the dorm traveled to a nearby field on a Saturday afternoon and played frisbee for nearly two hours in the pouring rain. It was great. I wish I had pictures. Phil has given me Belgian chocolate a couple of times, which he offered as and I accepted as a rare and special treasure. He assures me that Belgian chocolate is the best in the world. And lately he has taken it upon himself to be a sort of humor coach for me and with tongue in cheek, has given me pointers on how to better make people laugh. Phil has been one of 28 guys whom it has been a joy getting to know, and I am happy I was able to celebrate his birthday with him. Before any of you ask, I'll just note here at the end that I don't believe RA's are immune to being creeked so that's something to prepare for. I'll follow up on that story in April.
Thanks for reading and God bless!