As the fall air crisps and decaying leaves flood the sidewalks, there is no denying that winter is approaching. The first big snow and Athletic Campus ice rink are just around the corner! For many college students, winter is associated with trips to Sugarbush, skipping class, and hot boxing igloos. But there is no denying that all of the winter bliss brings with it a bone-chilling cold that doesn’t seem to go away until late March. The brutal, chronic cold brings challenges to the typical UVM way of life, namely in limiting our access to outdoor smoking spots. I, like many of my peers, have been soaking up every outdoor sesh I can get in before the whole campus becomes a barren wasteland, which has left me spending ridiculous amounts of time in the Athletic amphitheater.
The amphitheater is a classic spot for students to flock to at any hour of the day, most often to smoke heroic amounts of weed while devouring Skinny P fries. The amphitheater is a watering hole for stoners and hackysack enthusiasts, and also Folk Music Club on Friday afternoons. But lately, the amp I know and love has been… changing, and it’s getting harder to deny.
A typical evening in the amp starts with me, usually barefoot, sometimes in a silly outfit, popping a squat on a rock and packing a bowl. On any given day I can be spotted in the amp with any number of friends, some old, and some brand new, and countless numbers who I will never see again. Sometimes there is a funky little instrument like a harmonica or a kalimba, and occasionally, there is a Grundle ice cream cone or two being passed around. Regardless of circumstance, the vibes are always the same: awesome!
Recently though, the air in the amp has been rather ominous. Things that have long been imperative to the amp have been unreliable… and I’m not sure why. There is an uncertain haze in the air and when I leave, nothing seems quite right. Every night when I leave the amphitheater and make the trek 500 feet back to my dorm, I can’t help but notice what feels like thousands of eyes on me. Usually, I fly under the radar on this campus, but post-sesh, I stick out like a sore thumb. Something just isn’t right.
The first signs that things were getting a little twisted trickled in slowly, but once they started, they didn’t stop. The most glaringly obvious was furry with four legs and a tail. You’ve guessed it- the amphitheater skunk. Everyone knows it and everyone is kind of afraid of it. The amp skunk has been on the prowl since the beginning of the year- and I’ve never paid much mind to it.
But these last few weeks I swear that stinky motherfucker has been following me, like some sort of haunted reminder of the high the night before. Everywhere I turn I see its beady little eyes looking at me, and I can faintly hear it snickering “You disappointing little stoner.”
And it’s not just the furry phantoms, but the whole damn universe has been flipped upside down. When I step into the amp, it is like I’m entering a vortex, and I get spit out on the other side with all my senses warped. Familiar faces seem to pass me by, as if I’m not even there, and complete strangers smile and wave at me as if I’ve known them for lifetimes. In the amp, anything goes, but the ramifications of the choices I make seem to… linger.
After a few weeks of peril and confusion, I’ve developed a few theories on the origin of this amphitheater vortex. First, the overwhelming population of UVM sapphics have adopted some sort of Wiccan practices, and have unintentionally cursed the campus during a witchy ritual. This theory is backed by little evidence, but certainly possible. My second theory is that The Historical Fencing Society has opened up a portal to medieval times, and something funky happened during the process. Think Magic Tree House but not quite right. Maybe it has to do with all of the chain mail and helmets, but something just isn’t right about those folks. My last theory, and what I feel is most probable, is that something funky is going on with the new athletic campus bog. In the last few weeks, all of the plants that grow next to the Amphitheater were brutally excavated, and in their place, a pond was made. The morning fog that drifts off of it combined with the rotten fruit that is frequently floating on the surface is peculiar and ominous. No one knows the purpose of the bog, or how long it will be around, but it is certain that something unusual is occurring.
The amphitheater vortex may be the work of a secret society of witches or knights, or maybe a mysterious environmental catastrophe. There is of course one other possibility that comes to mind-that I am just getting way too high.