Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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The Empty Net: Sweet, dude

When I was in seventh grade, my friends and I discovered a strange, but at the time hilarious (to us) prank that took the school cafeteria by storm.

All of us had to wear plain, white uniform shirts to school every day. They stained very easily. Any sort of little blemish would boldly stand out on the boring white button-downs.

We discovered that pricking tiny holes in grapes, then tossing them at unsuspecting classmates would leave noticeable and funny-looking purple dots on the drab shirts.

“Graping” someone, we called it.

You’d grape your buddy, he’d grape you back. We’d share a laugh. We’d look funny in our purple-spotted shirts. Mom would wash the shirts at the end of the week, and the stains would come out. No big deal.

Getting hit by a grape doesn’t hurt anybody. Yeah, we were dumb kids, but it was fun for us. It brightened our day a little bit. It was harmless.

Well, it was harmless until someone took it too far.

I remember watching it. A kid in our grade took a bag of grapes and smashed it on the back of a less-popular classmate’s neck while he wasn’t looking — while the principle was strolling through the cafeteria.

We all face-palmed. “You idiot,” we collectively thought.

The kid who did it thought he was being hilarious.

It wasn’t funny. The fun of graping was to scatter harmless purple dots on the white shirt of a friend, not forcibly hitting random people from behind.

We didn’t want to humiliate less popular kids or cause anyone physical harm. We didn’t have any malice behind it. It was just one of those stupid little pranks that kids do to each other for kicks.

Were we a bunch of knuckleheads?

Sure.

But were we doing anything harmful?

No. It was just friends messing with friends.

He missed the point. He took it way too far. He couldn’t separate a prank from real, tangible malice. He just didn’t get it.

I remember talking to the principal in her office about why we would do such a thing to each other — we all got lumped in with the one kid who took it too far.

On Saturday night, all I heard was a muffled smash, and a friend say, “Are you serious?” as we walked through the campus of Boston College after the Eagles’ 5–2 victory over BU.

A sprinting student, wearing a BU hockey jersey in the distance, and a shattered, first-floor dorm window came into my sights.

In his frustration and anger, a peer of mine — which is painful to say — shattered the window of a poor girl’s dorm room — her home.

Sweet, dude.

Her expression and indignantly raised arms said it all — “Why would anyone, especially some kid I don’t even know, break my window because of a hockey game?”

I will never have an answer for her.

BU-BC is a rivalry. The schools are down the road from each other. Both have elite hockey programs. Naturally, there’s a certain amount of back-and-forth poking that develops between those schools.

The games are exciting. It’s fun when there’s a little extra on the line — you want to beat your rival.

It raises the stakes and adds intrigue — the clashes with BC are the can’t-miss games.

But we don’t actually hate them. We don’t hate the team, fans or students on a personal level. That would be ridiculous! Why would anyone think that?

C’mon, man. Be able to separate chants and cheers from actual malice.

I witnessed a BU student periodically shooting off double-barrel middle fingers to the general masses of Conte Forum for what ended up totaling probably a third of the game.

He started taking “selfies” of himself and his buddy holding up their middle fingers to the crowd.

Sick, bro.

“Aww, dude. Check it. BC sucks, man. I hope they die. Haha.”

You’re an idiot.

You don’t get it.

When people do their chants and jeers at BC, it’s supposed to be in good fun. The BC students do it back. Some chants are clever, some are a little racier, but at the end of the day it’s harmless. It’s just college kids being dumb and having a little fun at the game.

When people call BC an “outhouse” or poke fun at the students, they don’t actually believe that to be true.

You really think that campus resembles an outhouse?

You really think when BU students boo BC fans on the jumbotron it’s because they have actual ill-will toward them?

Of course not. It’s just fun to mess around with your rival. There’s no harm in a few boos and hisses.

You’re not supposed to actually hate another human being because of a sporting event. That’s ridiculous!

Don’t be an idiot. Do not break the window of someone’s home. Are you kidding me?

Don’t be that guy.

You, the middle-finger guy, you, the window-smashing guy — you’re not funny.

You don’t get it.

You embarrass yourself, and it embarrasses me to be called your “peer.”

Don’t ruin everyone’s fun.

We separate things in life — church and state, business and pleasure, drinking and driving, apple pie and tuna fish.

Learn to separate a sports rivalry from actual malice.

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