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Penn Students in Line at Smokes Actually Extras From a Cliche College Movie


Photo by Ethan Wu / The Daily Pennsylvanian

While en route to The Fresh Grocer at 2:00 A.M. this Tuesday morning, I decided (or was it fate?) to walk by Smokey Joe’s because I seek out contrast so that I may exist in my truest form as a contrarian. 

This experience, like all those constructed in the same manner prior, left me as a lone baby fish against the anticipated hoard of — what are they? Other fish? Coral? One shark with many moving parts? 

They move as one; they move with a fluidity that makes even my distant voyeurism seem like an intrusion into their oneness. I have somehow become a hair in their mouth, stringy and clearly not belonging. 

They tug on each other for support, for unity, as the bouncers attempt in vain to alter the oneness, a sacrilege. 

Their cigarettes haphazardly dangle from the corners of their mouths as they launch verbal assaults in the hopes of gaining entrance — the hope to be just as they are, but under the safety of a ceiling. 

Their deception fools everyone — but me. 

This is no game of chance. Those cigarettes might dangle, but with calculated purpose and design. To see one fall would be to witness an exercise of decision. 

Smokey Joe is not inside; he is here, with them and with me, outside, in their minds and in my own. 

He is a stage, a screen, perception and deception. They are actors. And so am I.