It was bad enough getting mocked by all my high school friends:
“Dude, you're going to college in Colonial Williamsburg! Haha, I can totally see you wearing one of cute white bonnets and churning butter on a Friday night.”
“Shut up you sexist pig!”
But I sucked it up. I put up with their petty jibes and snide remarks. College was about the academic experience and the shining diploma I would receive from a prestigious university, not the sizzling nightclubs and scuzzy pizza pubs that they would enjoy. Besides, William and Mary is unique. As I've already said, we have a very “special” relationship with our neighbors on DoG Street.
After living here for two years, I've decided I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking, or what “special” really means. Are we like that “special friend” that Mommy told us to be extra nice to? “Play nice with Susie. She's...you know...special.”
I fear that might be how they think of us. “Here ya go, kiddies. Take this little red CW sticker and put it on your ID card. Then guess whatâ€”it's like magic. You can get into all the historical buildings for four whole years! How do you feel about that?”
Umm...excuse me? Did I miss something? You mean to say this little red sticker doesn't give me useful things like discounts? I don't even get to park at Merchant Square for free, or get 10 to 15% off at the Cheese Shop, or let my parents tour those whad'ya call themâ€”historical places for free? Bummer.
“No, we don't do things like that here. But do bring your families to town! And make sure they bring their credit cards. They'll just love our authentic restaurants with poor service and over-priced menus. Aren't you so glad we're friends! See you at the Grand Illumination!”
Call me a looney, but haven't we been here a lot longer than them? 1693 doesn't make us spring chickens. Now, when was Colonial Williamsburg restored? 1926. Ok, so they move into town two centuries or so after us, bring with them a whole slew of the “tourons” who will steal our parking lots, jack up prices, stop us daily for directions to the Wren building, leave us waiting in line for an hour behind a bus-load of school kids, and suck away all hope for a fun college town. And we're supposed to do what? Smile and say “Thanks, your pipers really make our day.”
The way I see it, they should be throwing down the red carpet for us. We bring them tradition, energy and business. We buy little three-cornered hats for our siblings. We labor at their shops. We smile through our teeth at the elderly couples stealing every empty open bench. We subject our families time and time again to the long-ass, boring tour. Is it too much to ask for a little brotherly love?
If they're going to deprive us of any sort of public social life, then it should be mandatory that Colonial Williamsburg operate the Steer Clear vans. I want to be chauffeured around from one off-campus party to the next by Patrick Henry and Martha Washington. And their costumes had better be authentic.
My hunch is that they may resist. Clearly, this “special” relationship is in their favor. We provide the raw goods and the slave labor. We feed their machine and they sell the manufactured products and services back to us for profit. Citizens of the college, have we learned anything from those tours?
We must declare our rights. If they refuse to comply, we'll just have to occupy the homes, seize the Palace, barricade the streets, and arm ourselves with stockpiles of muskets and cannons. Hell, a siege wouldn't be that hard. We have a whole colonial town at our disposal: the Public Hospital, Bruton Parish, the Secretary's Office, the Apothecary Shop, the Raleigh Tavern, the Windmill, the Carpenter's Yard, the Courthouse, and the list goes on.
You see, Colonial Williamsburg, you really should be nice to your special friends at the College and listen closely when we restate a few words that your own Thomas Jefferson has taught us:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
We're not happy and we're not free. You've denied us our rights long enough. I say, do you want a revolution?
Jen Steffensen is a staff columnist for the DSJ. Her views do not necessarily represent those of the entire staff.