Past the hour of 9 pm on a Friday or Saturday night, hungry BC students no longer trek to Lower and Mac for sustenance. They journey, quite intentionally, to Late Night. The label shift- subtle but ubiquitous- signals that a kind of weekly transformation takes place in the hallowed halls of BC dining. And perhaps it does.
To an outsider, the dining halls themselves don’t feel much changed, though the smell of frying oil is slightly more prominent than usual. The décor is limited, and your dining options are arranged in rows of the same metal trays most of us have seen since hot lunch in elementary school. In front of these hangs a long plate of glass, a faint reminder of the ever-present threat of norovirus on the petri dish of a campus which we all call home.
This austerity is not a direct signal of quality- there are esteemed restaurants which operate out of subway stations or grocery stores or farms. But Late Night does not provide a culinary experience in the same ways that these do. Your mozzarella sticks will be called mozz sticks, and the cheese within will stretch roughly as long as their abbreviated name. You will be unsure, at times, if your chicken strips are cooked all the way through. Your French fries will be more potato than Pomme frite, and your flatbread most likely will not transport you back to your semester abroad in Parma. Neither the food, nor the location, nor the ambience seem particularly worthy of being rallied around. Yet, when BC dining attempted to change late night at the beginning of this year-replacing chicken strips with sandwiches and mozz sticks with wraps- rallying is exactly what we did.
The Late Night insider is not looking for Italy or acai bowls or the types of civilized culture that the core curriculum so eagerly attempts to impress upon us. The night has gotten too boring, too loud, too busy, or you are, quite simply, very hungry. As you ascend the steps to Addie’s or approach the counters at Mac, fluorescent lights and glowing menu boards illuminate your friends’ faces. You notice where your makeup has melted off in places, you hide behind your roommates from that guy you hate in Globalization. You can hear everything clearly, for probably the first time since you left the house that evening. The voices of your peer’s blend together into the night’s final song.
The food in front of you glows with what you crave: fat and salt and warmth. You are free to order fried carbs in all their glorious forms without the haunting specters of the salad bar and the hordes of students returning from the Plex. A server hands you a plastic boat of food, holding it high like a bowl of holy hosts. Freezers hum with Powerade (your personal cup of blessing) and containers of leftover cake. You stand in the middle of it all, uncontained. The promises of university life are delivered in flawed and fleeting glory- because this is late night, after all, and you weren’t expecting much.