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The Rival's summer stories volume 2

college culture


Tulane University


The Rival's summer stories volume 2

Can I put this on my resume?

Paul Sand

Hiatt Becker


Adam Tsung

Would you rather be face to face with a startled Montana bull moose or a pissed-off Vietnamese street vendor? I had the great privilege to tangle with both of these this summer, and I’d take the moose every time.

Here’s the difference: when I came around a bend in the trail in Glacier National Park and saw a bull moose the size of a car standing fifteen yards from me, I instinctively knew what to do. When it raised its head and stared at me, I somehow knew to freeze, avoid eye contact, and slowly back away. It’s nature.

There’s no natural instinct that tells you how to fend off middle-aged Vietnamese men that grab you by the wrist and keep repeating “sucky sucky cheap cheap.” The absurdity is disarming. If you laugh, they take it as a yes. If you try and push them off, well, the police don’t take kindly to foreigners assaulting Vietnamese citizens. As for how I got rid of them, well, those are stories for another time.

Hiatt Becker

Life’s pace slows to a crawl under New Orleans’ summer heat. With a seemingly empty city stuck in an endless cycle of morning heat, afternoon rain, and the occasional evening reprise, I didn’t spend much time outside.

Which is why one afternoon, when an early shower left the city surprisingly cool, my then-girlfriend and I decided to go out for a picnic in the St. Louis #2 cemetery in our attempt to appreciate the morbid beauty that typifies so much of the New Orleans landscape.

Flippantly, we sauntered through the gates and found a sizeable mausoleum who’s shadow acted as our picnic blanket. All around us were giant slabs of marble and towers of brick partially covered in moss and blotched with the patina of decades spent in the tropical climate. Any inkling of fear was repressed by the mega-millions and Morris Bart billboards overhead, and the low din of cars zooming down I-10 behind us. We finished our lunch and perused the slant and overgrown isles, taking pictures and laughing and mocking God and the idea of ornate graves all the while.

That was until we turned to leave and realized the gates had been closed and locked with us inside. Unbeknownst to us, the cemeteries are closed to the public at 3:30pm. Needless to say, the shadows of graves growing longer in the falling sun took on a more sinister tone as we scrambled to find a way out. Luckily, we found a small pile of spare bricks in a back corner that made the 10-foot wall climbable. Once safely on the other side, I gave a well-deserved sigh of relief and patted my pockets for the necessities; phone, wallet, keys… keys? I didn’t have them.

Cut to me, running through the empty St. Louis #2 cemetery at dusk franticly looking for my keys on the steps of crumbling tombs and in clusters of thick weeds. I couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally, at my wits end, I peered into the trashcan where we threw the remnants of our lunch, and stuck my arm in up to my elbow to fish out my greasy keychain. Once over the fence again, we ran back to the car and made our long overdue exit. I’m not one to tell ghost stories, but it’s hard to believe this city isn’t haunted given its tragic and tattered history. Sure, maybe there are ghosts, but in my experience they’re much like those still living in this city; drunken pranksters who just want to see you get a little dirty. I haven’t been back to St. Louis #2 since, but I dare any reader to take their next picnic in the cemetery.

Paul Sand

When someone lives in the same suburban home year after year, decade after decade, they tend to accumulate a lot of things. Some things are beautiful or valuable or serve an important function. Most things are useless pieces of crap that people refused to throw away and then forgot why. They sit unused and unloved, covered in dust, waiting to be thrown into the metaphorical trashcan of our modern consumerist society.

The act of separating useless crap from practical items is challenging, time consuming, and stress inducing, which is why I got paid $15 an hour this summer to do it for the generous middle-aged lawyer who lives down the street from me. Her name was Jane.

The best part of working for Jane was not the close proximity to my house, or the flexible hours, or the fact that it was not very difficult, or the practical skills she taught me, or the bag of weed that she found in her 40 year old daughter’s room and then gave to me, or even the borderline-comical piles of cash that she paid me. The best part of working for Jane was Jane. Her kindness, humor and intelligence shone through in every conversation. Despite our nearly 50-year age difference, I began to see Jane as a friend, someone I could speak candidly with about my hopes and fears. She taught me about love and loss, loneliness, motherhood, adulthood, travel, the law, principle and family. And I taught her that sometimes it is ok to throw away a file from 1993 or a rusty spoon tucked into the back corner of a kitchen closet. So I guess, in the end, I really did earn that $1,500.