Declining house parties leave underage Bobcats out in cold

When 15-year-old Taylor Lykins stepped onto the campus of Ohio University for the first time in 2007, she was mesmerized by what she saw on the streets of Athens.

“It was house after house, party after party,” Lykins recalled. “Loud music and dancing completely took over the neighborhoods.”

Inforgraphic OU NightlifeEven though her sister, Emily, was only a freshman at the time of Taylor’s first visit, both girls said they were never short on things to do throughout Emily’s next four years.

“My boyfriend lived at a big party house,” Emily, a 2010 grad, said. “We always had some place to drink.”

Emily owned a fake ID but she found no reason to use it because her social life revolved around parties. Rather than barhop, she and her fellow Bobcats would spend the night jumping from one house to the next, red Solo cups in hand.

But by the time Taylor started her freshman year at OU in 2011, OU’s social scene had completely shifted.

“I went from not needing an ID when I was in high school to being a college student and all of a sudden needing an ID to do anything,” Taylor said.

Although Ohio University is known for its esteemed academic programs, rich history and quaint local flair, it is OU’s social scene that has grabbed national headlines throughout the past decade. OU graces Princeton Review’s Top Party Schools list year after year, and notorious party website BroBible recently published an entire article titled “10 Reasons Ohio University Is The Best Party School In the United States.” Both publications cite OU’s fest season, HallOUween, and homecoming traditions as the reasoning behind the university’s party school reputation — but make no mention of any house party culture.

Taylor Lykins isn’t the only student who has noticed Bobcats’ social evolution from house parties to bars: Many other Ohio University students claim house parties have all but disappeared from their social lives. Student-heavy streets like Congress and Palmer are still as chaotic as Taylor remembers, but rather than the neighborhoods overrun with Bobcats making their way from one party to another, the sidewalks are transformed into a maze of eager bar-goers heading Uptown for the night.

Unless house parties are thrown in conjunction with other events such as the fests or Welcome Weekend, OU’s nightlife now revolves almost entirely around the bar scene on Court Street.

Some students speculate that OU’s dying house party scene is a result of an ordinance passed by the Athens City Council in 2009 that makes it easier for police to shut down raging parties and prosecute disruptive students in attendance.

Before 2009, law required that police arrest and charge partiers with at least four separate violations before the party could even be labeled a nuisance. The ordinance passed five years ago requires only one violation and lets police arrest anyone who does not leave the party after it shuts down. The ordinance also deems landlords responsible for their guests’ uncontrollable behavior.

Arrested partiers face nuisance charges, which are minor misdemeanors that carry $150 fines for the first offense. If violators break the law a second time within 18 months, they face a fourth-degree misdemeanor that comes with a possible 30-day jail term and a $250 fine.

With the passing of the new ordinance, Athens City Council and the police departments have seen positive results. In the last two years alone, fest season arrests have gone down nearly 25 percent. In 2013, police arrested 156 students at house parties during High Fest, Mill Fest, Palmer Place and Palmer Fest — a significant decrease from 2012’s fest season that resulted in 353 arrests.

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Photo by Maria Fischer

With many Bobcats feeling uneasy about hosting house parties of their own, students began turning to fraternity houses to throw the “raging” parties in true Animal House style. However, even Ohio University’s frats have backed away from being the go-to sources for house parties: Pi Kappa Alpha became inactive in 2012 and lost its 12 N. College St. house after officials found drugs in a warranted raid. Sigma Pi followed suit, losing its notorious 8 N. College St. house in 2013, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon is expected to lose its 57 E. State St. house early next year after a surprise membership review left nearly half of its members suspended and forced to move out.

Without house parties — Greek or non-Greek — to fall back on, this current bar trend leaves underage Bobcats in a dilemma each weekend: head out to Court Street in hopes of finding something legal to do, or risk an arrest by sneaking into bars with a fake ID. While house parties are certainly not the most effective ways to keep younger students out of trouble, OU’s former house party scene at least offered underage Bobcats more options for nighttime fun on campus.

“Other than go out to eat, there’s not much for underage kids to do on Court Street at night,” Nicolette Lambos, a freshman, said. “Unlike New York or nearby big cities like Columbus, Athens doesn’t even have a legit club scene for 18-year-olds to go to instead of sneaking into bars.”

In an effort to offer students more nightlife options, Athens attempted to open a club but it quickly failed. A dance nightclub, Evolution, was located at 19 S. Court Street and lived a short life. The Mediterranean restaurant Habibi’s opened two years ago and now sits in Evolution’s space.

In late November of this year, another club opened in the basement of Red Brick under the alias Club Underground. Hopeful that this club will be more successful than the last, Red Brick allows students 18 and older to dance the night away every Wednesday through Saturday.

But Athens’ inconsistent, on-again off-again club scene leaves many students far from hopeful.

“I doubt it will take off,” Andrew Dolan, a junior, said.

So if nightclubs and house parties are seldom found, what is an underage Bobcat to do? Type in a quick Google search of “Athens Ohio nightlife” and a list of bar after bar pops up. But of the 30-plus bars that appear from the search, only one offers 18-and-up bar nights: Red Brick.

Lauren Kumper, a Red Brick employee, said owners allow students who are at least 18 to hang out upstairs at the bar every Wednesday and Thursday.

“There’s a $3 admission and anyone under 21 can’t drink but at least there’s dancing,” Kumper said. “Wednesday night is karaoke night so a lot of freshmen and sophomores come out to the bar and do a song.”

While Red Brick offers underage students a few nights of fun during the week, these young Bobcats find themselves with limited options on weekend nights. This leaves Athens Pyramids, the local hookah bar, as the only remaining legal alternative to the Court Street bars and club scene.

Majed Batawil, Athens Pyramids owner, said his establishment has always been 18 and up.

“We don’t serve alcohol so you don’t have to be 21 to come in,” Batawil said.

Batawil said his customers are divided equally between underage students and Bobcats who are over 21 but admitted his staff still has to check IDs after a string of high school students were caught trying to sneak in.

Emily Lykins made note of the change in the campus dynamic when she returned in October for OU’s homecoming.

“It felt like it was a completely different school. Red Brick used to be so popular they had shot girls walking around and now they couldn’t get 20 people in there on homecoming weekend. I walked down the street my boyfriend used to live on and saw almost no parties.”

Lykins’ observations leave current students wondering what OU will be like when they return a few years after they graduate. With an increase in nightlife options and a decrease in house party arrests, perhaps police will loosen their grip and OU will return to its nightlife “glory days”: a time when students felt like they had more options than just a night spent drinking at (or sneaking into) the bars of Court Street.

***

Maria Fischer is a journalism student at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, falling somewhere between a junior and a senior. She is a self-proclaimed coffee addict and lipstick enthusiast. After completing her capstone in online publication production, promotion & design, she hopes to write for an online magazine and turn her passions for blogging and social media into a career. Visit her blog for Ohio University’s student-run fashion magazine, Thread, at http://frommetrocardstomealplans.blogspot.com.

A budget bar guide for Court Street newbies

It’s a Friday night in Athens, Ohio. The air is cool; the leaves have changed color and are starting to fall. College students chirp and laugh on the streets like ants scattering out of an ant farm, all heading in different directions. They yell, “Meet us there” or “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” These are not just students. They are experts on the best places to go on Court Street.

Uptown bar life on Court Street can overwhelm newcomers. Some students don’t even venture past where the bookstores and coffee shops morph into loud bar music, tattoo parlors, and head shops. The karaoke nights with live DJs and bands or unbelievable drink specials might actually scare some people rather than intrigue them. The idea that you can leave your house with a 20-dollar bill and come back with change might seem asinine, crazy, or ridiculous, but to us broke college students there is only one word to describe it: awesome.

Court Street is known for its delicious food, festive events, and multiple bars in less than a block. Some people might judge Ohio University, saying it’s a “small town with a big drinking problem.” It’s not necessarily “a problem,” but you definitely don’t hear crickets at the bar on a Saturday night. Maybe the real problem isn’t finding a fun bar because let’s face it, they all have their perks. The real problem is getting the most bang for your buck.

Every bar offers not only different drinks, but also a different atmosphere. When out-of-towners do visit they should have an authentic Court Street experience and know exactly what to try when a bartender looks their way. As an OU senior on a tight budget, I am no longer a Court Street rookie. I’ve had plenty of sad Sundays cringing as I log onto my bank account hoping to like what I see. After four years, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

Let’s start off at Lucky’s Sports Tavern, one of the most renowned sports bars on Court Street. It’s one of the first bars you will see after heading away from campus. If you’re from out of state, prepare to be asked for multiple forms of identification. This tends to be one of the stricter bars on campus. And if you are a Browns or Bengals fan, you might want to skip this bar after seeing the black and gold that coats the walls. Pittsburgh fans, this bar might hold you captive for the entire night, and you’ll love every second of it. Start your night off with a vodka lemonade ($3.25), a drink you could order at almost any bar, but for some reason it just tastes right at Lucky’s.

Next, hop across the street to Red Brick. Prepare yourself to be surrounded by freshmen using fake I.D.s and sipping Red Bull vodkas. (Because that’s what college students drink … right?) Order the Ricci Root ($2.50) (pronounced reach-y root). It’s root beer vodka, coke, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous you can ask the bartender to top it off with a splash of Baileys. It’s refreshing and tastes just like a root beer float. Red Brick features an interesting crowd. Besides many freshmen hoping to scoot past the bouncer when he’s not looking, many local Athens residents hang out at Red Brick.

After you’ve indulged, make your way past Court Street Diner, which is perfect for a rough morning hangover, and enter The C.I. Ask the bartender at the front bar for a basket of free peanuts. They’re delicious and provide just enough nourishment to keep you going for the rest of the night. If you’re more of a beer person, the C.I. has multiple drafts to choose from. But if you can handle your liquor, order an SMC ($1.75), which contains vodka, Malibu, cranberry juice, and dragon berry vodka. It’s the perfect mix of strawberry, mango, and cranberry. C.I. is also famous for their bombs (a shot with a chaser already poured inside). The prices vary, but some definitely worth trying are dragon berry bombs or a starry night. Be careful, though. A few too many of these might end your night.

For your sanity, just walk right past Crystal. It’s the most popular underage bar. It is where most of the Greeks hang out, and it smells like sewage. As far as notorious Court Street bars go, The Crystal takes first place.

Past C.I. and Crystal, there’s Pigskin. It is a nice escape from the wooden, sticky floors and crowded spaces of the previous bars. The open area provides room for more people, and the pool and Ping-Pong tables give this bar a laid-back environment. It’s a great bar to take a break from drinking, with its ample seating areas, but I highly recommend trying their Mojitos ($5). This is the most you will spend on a drink, but the end result is more than satisfying. The atmosphere allows you to enjoy your drink rather than chugging it down as you squeeze through the crowd desperately seeking the door.

Across the street you will see Pawpurrs, the bar known for its friendly owner,  drinks suitable for a college student’s budget, and the one place you will find yourself shamelessly singing along to boy band hits of the ’90s. If you’re not one to be right in the action, the open areas allow room for newcomers to just sit back, sip, and watch. Although the cleanliness and stench are only a little easier to deal with than Crystal, Pawpurrs’ perfect playlists accompanying a dancing stage and cheap drinks make the trip worthwhile. Order a Teddy Graham ($2), which is basically a White Russian with RumChata. It goes down smooth and tastes just like that childhood snack. After you’ve sipped down your drink, and maybe busted out a few Backstreet Boys songs, say goodbye and go next door to The Pub.

The Pub is small and tavern-like, but their Bloody Marys ($4) are to die for. They make them pretty spicy so keep that in mind when ordering, but as a pseudo-connoisseur, I’d say the Pub’s take the lead by far. After you’ve sipped on that, stumble right next door again to J Bar.

J Bar is known for its great playlists but pricey drinks (compared to its neighbors). The real way to go to J Bar is to drink before, that way you don’t find yourself racking up a tab there. If you’re feeling a little thirsty and craving a beverage, though, order a Crabbies ($4). It’s a ginger beer served on ice with lemon and lime, and it tastes incredible. It’s on the higher side in alcohol content but a smooth and light beer. The top level allows for plenty of space although it’s usually not empty, being an extremely popular bar among students.

For the final destination, stop by Courtside, located at the end of Court Street, to enjoy a few slices of delicious, fresh-out-of-the oven pizza (and an ice cold Blue Moon ($3.50) if you just so happen to find a few extra bucks in your pocket.). Courtside has some of the best bar food on campus, including pizza, wings, subs, salads, etc. Whatever your drunken heart desires, Courtside offers (or delivers).

“Closing Time” by Semisonic will play to signal the night is coming to an end. The lights will come on in all of the bars, allowing bouncers to start herding out crowds and prompting friends to reunite to end their night together. People will link arms, yelling to groups ahead to wait up and hugging goodbye, until tomorrow night. After you leave Courtside, you can look over your should at the lit up skyline of small-town Athens, Ohio. You are no longer lost. Athens found you and wants you to know you’re always welcome back.

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Richelle Miller is a senior at Ohio University studying strategic communication and marketing. She is a coffee-addict, bookworm, music-obsessed animal lover. When she’s not in classes, studying, or working, she spends maybe a little too much time on Court Street. Her dream job is to relocate to Southern California, become a writer, and have the ocean as a backyard view.

Tips from Court Street’s women bartenders

She throws on a women’s fit T-shirt with a Court Street bar’s  logo, a pair of denim shorts, and gym shoes —because the floor behind the bar can get slippery. Behind the bar, she’s ready to serve drinks and prepared for any customer who gets a little too friendly. She drops some change and bends down to pick it up. Even over the music, she hears the whistles directed toward her from the other side of the counter. And it doesn’t stop there. They’re calling her “baby” and grabbing her hand when she takes their credit card to pay for their fourth round of shots. She shakes it off, gets back to work, and watches the group of drunkards leave. It certainly won’t be the last encounter tonight.

The bricks of Court Street lead Athens’ night owls, and day drinkers down the iconic road lined with bars. But, before walking into their favorite Court Street establishments and ordering their favorite drinks, they must interact with a bartender. And in many cases, that bartender is a woman.

With about 20 bars in the local area, each featuring several female employees pouring the beverages, there are plenty of personal, tell-all stories from the women bartenders’ perspective on Court Street. Just as each establishment differs from the others, each woman’s experience varies, and she has her own story to tell.

IMG_1779Tori Simokov, an Ohio University senior, took her resume to every bar on Court Street 14 months ago seeking a job. After receiving Simokov’s resume, cover letter and attached photo, The Pigskin hired her. Coming from a serving background at Cantina Laredo and Hooters in her hometown, Simokov learned to transition her skills from a Columbus server to an Athens bartender at the 38 North Court Street bar and grill.

“In order to be a bartender, you have to be adaptable, work long hours, stay on your feet all day, get very little sleep, and deal with all different kinds of customers,” Simokov said. “You have to be able to multitask.” Workers not only make drinks but they cut fruit, clean the bar, clean dishware, fetch refills and make sure people get their food at some places.

Before Simokov whips up Pigskin’s signature Black Widow drink or her own signature Hammerhead cocktail — a Barcardi Mango with Strawberry Pucker, Sprite and pineapple juice mixture — she gives tips for people to be good customers on Court
Street:

  1. Do not raise your hand or tap your credit card or money on the bar or scream anyone’s name to get a drink.
  2. Rule of thumb for tipping: $1 per drink that you order.
  3. It’s fine if you order five waters, but that takes a lot of time to do. Just give a $1 for that.
  4. Don’t be an asshole if you have to wait for a little bit.
  5. Don’t order Bloody Marys at night: “People do that a lot and it takes a long time to make, and who the hell even does that?”
  6. “Don’t try and get me to buy you a drink or give you a free drink. Also, don’t ask for a free drink if you spilled yours. If I spill your drink, I’ll give you another one, but if you spill your drink, I’m not giving you another one.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 5.41.53 PMAfter working her first HOUmecoming weekend as Pigskin’s beer tub girl, Simokov came across a tweet from OU Crushes, a popular Twitter account where people anonymously submit their crushes, the following day. An Ohio University alum with an American Express Black Card wanted to take Simokov, the “tall, gorgeous, blond bartender at Pigskin” on a trip to Paris via his private jet. ”Simokov found the tweet so ridiculous and far-fetched that it was hilarious, she said. “It was funny and random.” Simokov’s boyfriend joked and tweeted back, “Babe I’d give this guy a chance if I were you. The coolest place I can afford to take you is Funbarn.”

Another woman who is in the Athens bartending scene is Ohio University student Laura Baker. With three years experience working at Pawpurr’s, Baker loves being involved with other students and people her age. “It’s kind of like partying for your job.”

Regardless of the good or the bad, customers contribute to the lady bartenders’ experiences through giving tips. On an average night, Baker will walk away with $180-$300 in tips. On a special Athens weekends (i.e. Dads Weekend, HallOUween, HOUmecoming), Baker will take home between $400-$600. “I’m able to pay the bills, that’s for sure.”

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Along with tipping, customers shape bartenders’ overall experiences. Baker has been in a positive atmosphere where a guy who was “dancing and having a great time” spilled a drink on himself on the establishment’s wooden stage and yelled, “I love Pawpurr’s!”

“Seeing our customers have fun makes us have fun,” Baker said.

Sometimes when customers are having a great time, they’ll hit on Baker or use various terms of endearment. From being addressed as “babe, honey, and sugar,” Baker admits this happens to her and to women bartenders in general. Guys tend to ask for Baker’s number, which sometimes puts her “in an awkward situation.” However, she has her tactics of avoiding giving her number away to male customers. She says when she’s not equally interested in a customer, she tells him that she doesn’t give her number away at work but tells him in a “nice way” that he knows where to find her or she tells customers she’s at Pawpurr’s to work and not to date.

Aside from male customers flirting with women bartenders, Baker has witnessed female customers hitting on fellow male co-workers. Girls are more affected by comments than guys, but Baker hears girls who have liquor courage talk about Pawpurr’s male staff in a sexual manner, she said.

“Girls try and push up their boobs and lean over the bar to the guy bartenders. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Girls also say things like “He’s so hot” or “I want to take him home tonight.”

On the other hand, Baker has encountered not-so positive situations from behind the bar. One “creepy” customer in his mid-20s made Baker so uncomfortable that she had to switch sides of the bar because he looked Baker up and down, kept licking his lips and constantly watched her as she worked, she said.

“Let people know they crossed the line in a nice way because you don’t want to lose customers,” Baker said, “and you also don’t want to put up with their shit.”

Another incident when a customer crossed the line — the line being too much alcohol — was when a female customer passed out in one of Pawpurr’s bathroom stalls after closing time.

“I went to go clean the bathrooms and saw her. I went up to her and said, ‘Hey it’s time to go. Do you have a friend for me to call for you?’ You could tell she was blacked out because her pants were down and she basically fell asleep on the toilet,” Baker said. Baker offered to help the intoxicated woman call a friend. The female said she was fine, and Baker still wonders to this day if the woman made it home okay.

Baker gives her two cents on what people should do to be a great customer, along with understanding the proper bar etiquette on Court Street:

  1. Do tip: It doesn’t have to be a lot. At the end of the night those quarters add up.
  2. Don’t shake your money in their faces: ”As long as you have your money out, I create a mental line in my head of who is next in line.”
  3. Don’t be rude.
  4. Don’t whistle at them: “I’m not a dog, and I don’t appreciate that.”
  5. Order the same drinks or shots together with your friends even if you’re paying separately: “It gets you your drink faster and saves us time.”
  6. If you plan on ordering several rounds of drinks or shots and you all want to pay separately, it’s easier for you to each buy a round rather than paying individually for each shot in each round.
  7. Don’t complain about prices: “It’s so cheap in Athens.”
  8. Have fun!

What about shaping the customer’s experience? Pawpurr’s customer and OU senior Mike Geise thinks there are qualities women bartenders should have before he orders a drink from them.

“They should be firm, but kind. They shouldn’t be afraid to throw someone out or ask the door or floor guys to step in and handle someone,” said Geise. “Also, the bar comes first before your friends. It is a job still.”

Specifically, Geise enjoys ordering drinks from Baker, his favorite bartender, when she’s working behind Pawburr’s bar.

“Laura is engaging and makes the meanest Jack and Coke in town,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt that her looks match an incredible personality.”

Jumping to another opinion, junior Josh Wilking, an avid CI customer, likes when female bartenders are friendly, play music everyone can sing along to, are fair to customers and are good-looking. One particular bartender who has Wilking’s favorite attributes is Abby Rechel at the CI.

“She is my favorite bartender now because we have been friends for a few years. She is super nice and always plays great music,” he said.

Baker believes her fellow bartenders should be friendly, work fast, and always be themselves. “Don’t let people walk all over you,” Baker said. “Have some backbone.”

IMG_1622Still learning the tricks of the trade, the Pub bartender Katie Derr is considered the rookie since she’s fairly new to the bartending scene with only about five months of experience. Even though she is new, she has worked as a server with Buffalo Wild Wings since she has been 16 years old. She takes her restaurant-bar serving experience and brings her knowledge to the Pub.

However, coming from a serving environment, Derr did something bartenders should never do.

“One time when I was working at the Pub, someone wanted a draft beer when we were changing the kegs. I told the customer that it would just be a minute so he could sit down in the booth and I’d bring it to him,” Derr said. “I went to go give it to him and my manager asked what I was doing. He said, ‘You never leave the bar because they come up to you. You’re not a server here.’”

Derr soon realized she needed to act differently when it comes to serving the customers at a bar compared to the serving philosophy at a restaurant.

“It’s all about serving the customer [at Buffalo Wild Wings] but at the Pub the customers come to and you’re doing them a favor by getting them drinks.”

Since bartenders do customers a favor by making drinks for them, Derr thinks every customer should live by a few of her guidelines:

  1. Say “please” and “thank you.”
  2. Tip well.
  3. Have patience.
  4. Smile and be happy.
  5. Be respectful.

Even if customers do not always follow the suggested guidelines, these lady bartenders of Court Street still appreciate their jobs related to Ohio University’s party school atmosphere.

“It is really easy to do, fast-paced and keeps you busy,” Simokov said. “You get out without being out. Instead of going out and spending all of your money and getting violently drunk, you get to stay behind the bar and make a ton of money and see all of your friends at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

“[Bartending at Pawpurr’s] will be the greatest job of my entire life. There’s a deep connection with the people I work with. … It’s a great experience that I’ll be able to carry with me for the rest of my life.”

One girl’s guide to Court Street

The bricks of Court Street go a long way toward defining it: dirty, burnt red. It’s both beautiful and ugly, much like my time on Court Street. I’ve had my fiery red nights of happiness, making new friends and falling in love. But I’ve also had my fair share of dingy, depressing poop-brown nights where I’ve lost my best friend or just been a mess.

Through it all though, I’ve become someone quite different than when I arrived here a little over two years ago — just as time has changed those iconic bricks.

Court Street is about more than wild nights. It’s about all the times spent trying to discover who you are as a person, and not just a college student. I’ve had my heart broken on Court Street. I’ve made some of my dearest friends at the bars. I’ve eaten my weight in burritos and wings and then attempted to fit into the tiny dresses at Figleaf. But most of all I have learned what it means to be alive — all on this one little stretch of road in a small town in Ohio.

As I near the middle of my junior year, I’ve realized that now it’s time for me to share my story with new Bobcats so that they make the most of their time on Court Street.

Before I even arrived for my first night as a freshman in Scott Quadrangle, Court Street played a major role in my life. I remember walking down to get chocolate ice cream at Whit’s as a 7-year-0ld with my parents and Brian Wiebe, my older brother, who also attended Ohio University. I was amazed at all Court Street had to offer, and I always wanted to go back whenever we would visit my brother. Court Street was a magical place as a kid, but it eventually would come to disappoint me at times.

However, when it came time to decide where I would go to school, the obvious choice was Ohio University because it was a second home and felt familiar. I still have my very first photo that my mom took of me outside of the gates to the entrance of College Green during freshmen orientation. The gate reads, “So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge, wisdom, and love.” I look happy, confident, and scared.

Freshman Orientation. Photo taken by Lola Wiebe
Freshman Orientation. Photo by Lola Wiebe

I had little to no idea what all would happen during my time at OU, but I knew that it was going to be the biggest adventure of my life so far. I learned so much from my time on Court Street — lessons that could not have been taught in a classroom in Bentley or Morton Hall.

My first, most memorable memory was my first HallOUween. I was head-over-heels for this guy I had awkwardly met in my dorm, and I thought he felt the same way. We kept going back and forth on whether or not to date, and eventually decided we were somewhat exclusive but still not dating.

What’s that supposed to mean?

My freshman head did not know. Spoiler alert: We did not work out. Long story short (prepare for a run-on sentence): I kissed another guy, he got mad, he takes me on a date to Pita Pit, I think we’re back on, I invite him to a HallOUween party, he shows up with another girl, I freak and wind up running down Court Street with my best girl friend trying to make out with every boy in sight.

Classy, right?

To this day, I still do not know how many boys I actually kissed that night. It is not a pretty story, and quite frankly makes me sound incredibly stupid. But I realized that I didn’t need him to determine my happiness, and I certainly didn’t need uncertainty in a “relationship.” It was my friend who was there for me when I needed someone, and not the random dude from Scott Quad.

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t settle for anything less than being and feeling fabulous. Value the people who are there for you, who make sure you make it back to your dorm/apartment/house.

That wasn’t the only time I had my heart broken on Court Street. The second time was a lot harder to deal with because we had been going out for nearly two years.

When you go from love to being told “Let’s just be friends,” life sucks. There’s nothing you can do about it and you just sit around thinking about how things should have gone differently. At least that’s what I did for a little while.

“The Break-up” was unexpected, confusing, and told me that perhaps I should invest in Kleenex and Dove chocolate. This taught me much more than just “don’t make out with everyone.”

Living above Subway on Court Street my junior year has been one of the best and worst parts of my time at OU. A number of my friends from Scott Quad also live in the apartments above Subway, including the boy who broke my heart the second time. There have been several awkward times since “The Break-up” where I’ve run into “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” but far more happy times with some of the best people I’ve ever met.

In my prime. Photo taken by Katherine Webster
In my prime. Photo by Katherine Webster

An uncomfortable run-in in the hallway is not what I’m going to remember about my time above Subway. Rather, I’m going to remember the nights my roommates and I took too many shots and danced on our surprisingly solid coffee table to Taylor Swift. I’m going to remember the summer night when I came down to check out the new apartment and wound up laying in the middle of Court Street at 4 a.m. Don’t ask.

Court Street can’t always be a fairytale. There are a ton of disappointments in life, but I’d much rather remember the times I felt like a whole person and not a sad shell. The thing about breaking up is that you get over it. One day I just woke up and DIDN’T think about it. I stepped out of my apartment on Court Street and it was a damn beautiful day to be 20-something and fearless.

LESSON LEARNED: It’s not easy being alone, but it’s better than wasting your time with someone who doesn’t make you truly happy. Bad things will happen, but they make the good moments all the more sweet.

My final and favorite memory of Court Street was very recent. Anytime I have been upset, I’ve turned to retail therapy. Or alcoholism (kidding). At nearly the same time “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” and I broke up, my roommate and her ex-boyfriend also broke up.

We consider ourselves much like Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins from Parks and Recreation, and we decided it was time to take some advice from two other characters from the series. Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, two bureaucrats from the show, always talk about how you should “Treat Yo’ Self!” So naturally, my roommate and I did just that. A day that perhaps should have been spent doing homework was spent heading out to the bars at 3 p.m. It’s five o’clock somewhere, right? We ordered our favorite beverages and toasted to treating ourselves.

Sometimes the responsibilities can be put on hold for a couple hours. I am a strong believer in being kind to yourself when you’re feeling down or in serious need of a break from working hard. At the same time, though, be kind to your friends. Make them go eat with you if you know they aren’t feeling the greatest about life. Buy them a stupid card and some nail polish to cheer them up about a failed test. Or, just go drink for a bit at Pawpurr’s or the CI.

LESSON LEARNED: Treat yo’ self. Treat yo’ friends. Drink a little and shop a little, but don’t go overboard. Time heals everything, but not your bank account or liver.

Brian, the first person who introduced me to Court Street, said, “There’s a saying I’ve heard that is something to the effect of, ‘There is a time and a place for everything, and it’s college.’ OU gave me an opportunity to experiment and try new things, both academically and socially. So I would tell new Bobcats to experiment and have fun, but also to do so in a way that maintains both self-respect and respect for others.”

Brian Wiebe and sister Diana Wiebe. Photo taken by Lola Wiebe
OU siblings Brian Wiebe and Diana Wiebe. Photo by Lola Wiebe

Take it from him and me, two Bobcats, to cherish the time you have here because there’s no place like OU. Once your time here is over, it’s really the REAL world. Be appreciative of the precious time you have here and don’t waste it crying over someone or something that isn’t what is right for you.

Life is far from simple, and it only seems to get more complicated the more time goes by. However, the time spent at OU teaches people more about life than they realize. I am still learning as a junior, and I’ll be sad to leave in a little over a year. Court Street has been the epicenter of my learning experience and taught me a lot about the difference between being an adult and a kid, though I still act like a kid from time to time.

I’m not the same person I was in that picture right before I came to OU, but I’m definitely still happy, confident, and somewhat scared. Just like those bricks on Court that I’ve lain on, I may not be wild and fiery red on the outside, but I’m more solid and secure in who I am than I used to be.

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Diana Canada Jean Wiebe is a junior studying journalism and political science at Ohio University. She is the Editor-in-Chief of FANGLE Magazine, a member of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-law Fraternity, and an account associate for ImPRessions. Her dream job is to become a litigator on the West Coast.