My Vaccine Raffle Dinner with Barbara Wilson
When I entered the UI vaccine raffle for the first week, I was mostly hoping to win the Kinnick Stadium tour and seats. The dinner with the President sounded like the networking equivalent of a blind date, and going to even more lectures sounded more like a punishment than a prize.
However, despite my hopes, I won the dinner with President Barbara Wilson. I invited the five most irreverent people I could think of- my coworkers at the Doily- and prepared myself to discover if the most diverse UI President ever did in fact exist, or if she was either (a) a hologram or (b) Bruce Herrald in drag.
I’ve been on many, many dates with older women, so I knew how to dress to impress. I was just slipping on my neon pink spiked heels, the sounds of Rasputin by Boney M. playing in the background of my dorm room, when I heard a knock at my door. I opened it up, and there was UI President Barbara Wilson!
“Hello, Anna Marie Jamison,” she said, and my face must have looked like the surprised Pikachu meme. No one told me she was coming to my dorm! “Well, are you going to invite me in?”
I nodded mutely, gesturing for her to take a seat at the hard-backed university-provided desk chair.
“Hello,” I squeaked out, “Ignore the Dorito crumbs on the floor.” And then I laughed. For two whole minutes. Finally, I sat on my unmade bed and we stared at each other.
“Well,” she said, “Aren’t you going to feed me?” After staring some more, I realized she was serious, so I put some pizza rolls on a paper plate and heated them in my microwave. I generously gave her over half, but that must’ve not been good enough because she reached over to my plate and took even more.
She bit into one, and made a face. I ate mine and tried to ignore her. She went to my fridge, pulled out the free ketchup packets I’d stolen from restaurants and emptied them on her plate and proceeded to dip her pizza rolls in them. She smiled as she bit down. I gagged.
“So, Anna Marie Jamison,” Barb said as she continued to chew. “What class are you most enjoying this semester?”
I was used to this question from my grandparents, so I had an answer at the front of my mind.I am taking Ballroom Dancing: Nightclub Series, and that is really… se… sensational.”
“Oh,” she cooed, “are you a good dancer?” She looked at me hopefully.
“Nope,” I popped the ‘p’. “That’s why I’m taking the class.”
She bit into another pizza roll. She seemed to think for a moment. Eventually, she asked, “Are you nervous about finals? I know that’s what I always worried about when I was a student.”
“Um,” I hesitated, “I’m more nervous about midterms, right now, seeing as how it’s only September? But… I dunno… finals would definitely be better if I didn’t have all five of them at 7am on different days of the week.” I let the bitterness seep into my tone.
She stared at me, not reacting to the annoyance on my face. “Shame about that,” she chirped, in what I recognized as a customer-service voice. I said nothing.
At last, she finished her pizza rolls, stood up, and walked to the door. “Thank you, Anna Marie Jamison,” she said. “I had a wonderful time.” And then she disappeared.
I never figured out if she is a real person. I’m leaning towards no.