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Posted on Monday 11 December 2006 at 7:57 pm

Hat Night

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Tomorrow night is my Hat Night. In order for you to understand the full import of that sentence, a lengthy explanation is required.

First, the cast of characters:
*MA students (have an annoying tendency to not show up for this)
*First-year PhDs (*points at kelbrenn* her among other people)
*Second-year PhDs (*waves* ME! among other people)
*ABDs (All But Dissertation: students who have completed all requirements for the doctorate in history except the researching and writing of said dissertation)

Background: Second year PhDs only take classes in the fall semester. In the spring semester, we have our comprehensive exams (approximately 10 weeks of hell in preparation, one week of hell/exhaustion for the written exams, and two hours of torment in the oral exam). After passing comps, we officially hold the unofficial degree of ABD. This means we will never again take classes as regular full-time students. We will definitely teach classes (at least one is required under the terms of our stipends) and we might sit in on classes, but we will no longer be "students" in the traditional sitting-in-a-classroom-and-learning-from-a-teacher/professor-and-getting-a-grade sense of the term. Considering most of us have been in school full time, with few or no breaks, since the age of five or six, this is a pretty momentous occasion. In order to (1) celebrate this milestone (2) destroy a majority of the second-years' brain cells after the last regular class meeting of the semester but before all final papers are due and certainly before comps and (3) make the poor first-year PhDs even poorer, the history graduate students have the time-honored (as in no one remembers when it started) tradition of Hat Night.

Hat Night: It begins with all of the history grad students congregating at the Green Leafe, the "bar" across the street from campus and preferred grad student hang out spot. Everyone basically does the whole "eat, drink, and be merry" thing for about 7 or 8 hours, usually from around 5:30 pm until 1:30 am or so. The second year PhDs are obviously the guests of honor and everyone else does their best to get them completely wasted. The ABDs are especially good at plying drinks into innocent and naïve (what? you don't believe me?) second-years. It is almost considered a criminal offense for a second-year to not have a drink in his/her hand. But of course, it would not be fair for the guests of honor to pay for the copious amounts of food and beverage they imbibe. Instead, the first-year PhDs have to pick up the bill for everything consumed by the second-years (don't feel too bad for them, they get it all free the next year). Everyone else pays his or her own way.

Why Hat Night?: In addition to paying the tabs, the first-year PhDs must provide each second-year with a hat. The hat can be silly, sentimental, insulting, or whatever. No second-year is allowed to be without a hat at any point in the evening. Swapping and wearing someone else's for a while is allowed, but all second-years have to be wearing a hat. I assume the point is just to embarrass the second-years by making them wear a ridiculous hat in a bar all night, but I'm really not sure.

Hat Night is the biggest event of the history grad student annual social calendar. William and Mary Alum across the nation still have their Hat Night hats and keep them on bookshelves or hanging off diploma frames as cherished mementos. Yes, we are that dorky. It is not possible to overemphasize the importance of Hat Night. And all I keep thinking is that I have papers to write, fanfics to write, novels and fanfics to read, luggage to pack, Christmas Cards to send, and a thousand things I should be doing rather than spending 8 hours in a bar. I've never had more than two drinks in a night in my life and have no intention of changing that now. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about getting my hat and I like the tradition and I fully expect to have a good time, but I would rather just have dinner and a drink or two and then go home.

I've asked one of my friends to bring her digital camera. Pictures of me in my hat will probably be posted at some point.
Sort of Excited
Feeling: Sort of Excited
Exploring: Desk in bedroom
Listening: Shower running (Roomie's in it)


kileaiya at 1:53 am on 12 December 2006 (UTC) (Link)
Hee. That sounds like fun. :)
bratty_jedi at 2:01 am on 12 December 2006 (UTC) (Link)
Getting my hat, hanging out with friends, and relaxing = major fun.

I'm just going to keep focusing on that part and have my fingers crossed that I'll be able to sneak out before midnight.
kileaiya at 2:10 am on 12 December 2006 (UTC) (Link)
I am trying to think of a plausible excuse for you to beg off early, but all I can think of is 'I have to go or Voldemort will get me' which is of absolutely NO use. At all.
bratty_jedi at 2:17 am on 12 December 2006 (UTC) (Link)
I've already used "I have to go so I can finish a fic for a challenge that has to be posted by x" one too many times. My friends just kind of roll their eyes at that one and have surprisingly little sympathy for it.

How about "I have to go because I'm addicted to LJ and start to shake if I go too long without checking it"?

No. That won't work. Somebody is sure to remember that the Leafe now has wireless and I always have my handheld computer with me and can just check from the bar. I've pulled it out to check wikipedia for facts and end arguments one too many times.
kileaiya at 2:41 am on 12 December 2006 (UTC) (Link)
Well durn. Good excuses are hard to come by, huh? I dont suppose 'I have to be up early tomorrow' would work? Hee.
littlepixiechic at 1:09 am on 13 December 2006 (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure you already know this, but I can't wait to see what kind of crazy hat you get.

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