What DePauw Gave Me Part 1: De-Sensitization to Naked People

It’s been a busy month since I last posted. Life got in the way, though I have to say things are starting to pick up. New leadership roles, new business ventures, new friends, new experiences–all good! And all those things make time fly.

In general, though, time has been flying way too quickly since graduation. I’m finding that once you don’t have a stack of papers and reading and exams you don’t want to do on a regular basis, the weeks don’t feel like months. Now I blink and seven days has gone by, and with April halfway through I’m moving toward the one-year post graduation mark. In honor of that little milestone I wanted to launch a series cataloging all of the things DePauw gave me during my exciting, intellectually challenging, and overall pretty awesome and crazy four years. Welcome to Part 1.

De-Sensitization to Naked People

In February I wrote about one of my favorite DePauw memories involving guy’s bid night and a lot of public nudity. It is my most popular post on this blog, though it probably has a lot to do with with putting “naked people” in the title. No, DePauw is not a school for nudists (if it was, I certainly wouldn’t have gone there), but many students–particularly of the male variety–like to express themselves sans clothing by running to the boulder on campus.

The Boulder Run is a DePauw tradition so deeply rooted that the university even publicly acknowledges on its website that it was once mentioned in a 1972 issue of Playboy as a great college tradition. On the first snowfall of the year, or fraternity bid night, or initiation night, or a Tuesday night after a six-pack of PBR, brave DePauw students bare all in order to take part in the tradition.

Photo Credit: DePauw University Archives

The first time I witnessed a Boulder Run I had gone to the Hub, the main dining facility on campus, to get a late Sunday afternoon lunch. As I sat eating my chicken Caesar wrap I glanced toward the wall of windows in front of me to see two scrawny naked guys run past in the distance. The handful of people also enjoying their various sandwiches, as well as the couple of women working there, all gave full attention to the tennis shoe-clad nudists. “There are naked guys!” one of the employees said with a chuckle. They disappeared behind the cover of East College before emerging a minute later, heading in the opposite direction. It was not the side dish I ordered.

One of the last Boulder Runs I encountered followed an evening of hanging out with my friend Ellen in her dorm room, which was next to one fraternity and down the street from another. My car was parked outside the building, I got in, pulled out, and found my headlights glaring on the very white behind of a lonely streaker. As he jogged down the middle of the street I was forced to creep behind him for a bit leading up to my turn. The view? Eh, not all that bad.

Some collegiate streakers opt for a more casual approach. These fall into the category of the Boulder Stroller, an elite group I had the unfortunate luck of encountering with a friend upon returning from a festive evening of celebratory pre-graduation drinks. The group of six or so guys wore nothing but shoes and the occasional baseball cap. With beers in hand one decided it was a great time to strike up a conversation. You haven’t known awkward until you’ve had a conversation with a naked guy about the weather. To those who choose to stroll and hang out by the boulder as if invited to a clothes optional barbecue: you’re really not that cute. Sorry. But I guess kudos to you for the extreme amount of confidence you possess.

For the wimpy fraternity men on the south side of campus–the furthest away from the Boulder–was the option of the Anchor Run, which just happened to take place in the front yard of my home for three years. Outside my sorority chapter sits a large anchor, the sorority’s symbol, and the southside fraternity guys often made it the destination of their nude missions. My sophomore year I lived in a room directly above the anchor, where several of us would crowd in the window to see guys we were often friends with do a naked waltz around the anchor. For some of these lads the mission was a little much, as one guy (who shall remain nameless) fell over in the snow, panting, shouting expletives, and taking a break before he could return to his home. Ah, the memories.

After four years of encountering naked people, public nudity starts to feel like a normal life occurrence. But when I recount my tales to those less well-versed in the ways of the Boulder Run, I get some strange looks. That’s probably a good thing, though. Despite its social taboo, the tradition of the Boulder Run/Anchor Run made things interesting. And if you’re going to take up streaking, what better place than college? (And no, I never even thought about wanting to do one).

So there you have it, What DePauw Gave Me Part 1. And to any prospective DePauw students out there who run across this blog in cyberspace, please do not be terrified. It’s great there. I promise.

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