Beyond the Books

Your Guide to student life


Josh Perlman

was a contributing features editor for The Hatchet. He started writing for The Hatchet his freshman year and is now a junior. Josh is originally from New Jersey and spends most of his time maintaining his GTL.
Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 10:13 p.m.

Just Joshin’

A look at the world through my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

Josh Perlman

Josh Perlman. Hatchet File Photo

Of course the one time I’ve ever been embarrassed to see a movie in theaters, I had to wait in line for 15 minutes before getting in.

I stood next to my mom and sister, behind about 30 middle-aged women all anxiously waiting for the ushers to let them into the new “Twilight” movie. I was ashamed to be there, but I was even more ashamed that I was there by choice.

In my defense, my mom can be pretty persuasive.

“We’re going to see ‘Twilight’ tomorrow. Want to come?” she’d asked.

“Sure,” I said.

As I said – very persuasive.

She told me we could go to a theater that’s pretty far from our town so we could be sure that nobody I know would see me there. The lengths a mother will go to protect her son’s dignity can be truly heartwarming.

The theater was a bit closer than I would have liked – it was in the same state – but I decided it was time to suck it up and be a man. I use that term loosely.

After I disappeared into the bathroom to play with the Dyson hand dryer and avoid associating myself with the other moviegoers, the ushers finally let us into the theater. My self-respect stooped lower and lower with each movie trailer before the film. They were all about different forbidden romances: a witch and a mortal, an alien and a human, a democrat and a fascist. If there was any hope of telling myself I was just there to see an action-packed vampire movie, the previews beat that delusion with a stick.

It was a dine-in theater, so our waiter came to take our order before the movie started. He came and squatted by my side, offering me a head nod that either said, “Yo, I respect you,” or “I’m team Jacob, too.”

I chose not to order popcorn for fear that the butter would go straight to my thighs.

When the movie ended, I felt a strange combination of happiness and self-loathing. Maybe I’m martyring myself by admitting it, but the movie was pretty entertaining.

I guess experiences like this one teach us to stay true to ourselves and to do what makes us happy, right? It’s like that time my classmates made fun of me in 4th grade when they found out I read “Ella Enchanted.”

But just to set the record straight, I will not be purchasing the “Twilight” movie when it comes out on DVD. My mother will.

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Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 8:30 p.m.

Just Joshin’

Josh Perlman

Josh Perlman. Hatchet File Photo

A look at the world through my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

Thanksgiving break is a truly momentous time for a college student.

It’s not only a chance to reunite with family. Nor is it simply a long-awaited opportunity to sit in front of the TV and watch marathons of ABC Family original movies.

More than anything, it’s chance to see old friends – preferably at a blissfully random high school reunion party.

Sure, living in D.C. is fun and all, but what’s better than striking up a conversation with some girl you haven’t talked to since declining her sweet sixteen invitation?

Every fresh encounter plays out the same exact way, but who can deny the thrill of strolling into a room of familiar faces?

“Oh my God, hey!” somebody starts off. “How’s school? Where do you go again? Don’t tell me… Georgetown?”

Sometimes I play along with their mistake.

“Hoya Saxa,” I’ll respond. “Good ol’ G-Town.”

One time I followed up with a barking sound. I later learned this isn’t the norm.

The funny thing is that I’ll often find myself reverting back to my old high school ways. I’ll drink out of strange objects like Frisbees because cups are a little too mature. I’ll join in on sing-alongs to classics like “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, even though I never manage to get past the chorus. I’ll even make out with someone in a corner just so I can go home and tell my parents I “got some action.”

Yeah, that happened once.

Then, when the night comes to a close and my friends and I find a ride home from some guy named Chaz, I’ll go straight to the kitchen and eat strange combinations of food like a block of cheddar cheese, half a container of macaroni salad and several slices of raisin bread. In the morning, I’ll assure my mom I didn’t have the munchies and apologize for waking her up with the clinking of my fork.

It’s comforting to know we can return to our high school lifestyle just as easily as we let it go. This gives me hope that if I don’t find a job after college, I’ll be very successful as a post-grad no life.

And let’s be honest – now that GW’s unranked, there’s a pretty good chance that’s where I’m headed.

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Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 9:46 p.m.

Just Joshin’

A look at the world through my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

Josh Perlman

Josh Perlman. Hatchet File Photo

As a junior at this fine university, I feel confident saying I’ve gotten to know my campus pretty well.

But not long ago, I reacquainted myself with a hidden gem: Student Health Services. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s that building next to Shadowroom.

I was joined in the elevator by a mother and her two young daughters, one of whom watched me press the button for the fifth floor and asked me, “What’s up there?”

I wanted to tell her the truth: “A less than helpful doctor’s office that makes you wait two hours before charging you $25 to remove a hold from your account.”

That probably would have just confused her, so I settled for a simplified version: “The doctor.”

When I walked into the waiting room, I was reassured to see a number of emotionless faces there to greet me. The woman at the front desk gave me the condescending label of “Walk-In” and told me to have a seat.

The room was filled with many interesting characters – most of whom looked far too put together to actually be sick. The girl to my right seemed to be using the space as a study room, and the guy to my left was clearly there just for the free condoms.

I began to wonder if anyone actually goes to Student Health Services when they’re feeling ill, or if it’s really just some weird purgatory for students being coerced by the University to see a doctor for unnecessary logistical reasons.

In my freshman year, I was barred from registering for classes until I went to Student Health Services to get a second chicken pox vaccination from some nurse with a Swedish accent.

I will admit it was comforting to see the same decorations two years later. A series of three photographs hung on the wall – each depicting the George Washington statue on campus sustaining visibly different weather conditions. I prayed to God the artist titled these “Seasons of George,” but I felt saddened by the artist’s choice to neglect summer.

When someone from the medical staff finally called my name, I was halfway through ignoring the “No Food or Drink” sign on the counter. I picked up my AppleJacks and followed her into one of the examination rooms.

After she failed to diagnose my reported symptoms, I knew I had to act quickly. I forced out a soft yet soulful burp.

“Ah, acid reflux,” she said. “Do you need a doctor’s note for any missed classes?”


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Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 9:18 p.m.

Just Joshin’

A look at the world through my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

Josh Perlman

Josh Perlman. Hatchet File Photo

If the last few weeks of election season have taught me anything, it’s that I am quite the absent-minded absentee voter.

I surprised my family and myself by applying for a ballot in the first place, but taking the next step and filling it out has proven more difficult than I expected. The awkwardly sized envelope sits atop my untidy desk every day as a reminder of my unfinished business.

My eyes routinely glaze over the ballot’s white and blue exterior, whose official appearance is not particularly eye-catching. The only exception to this is the swirly red design that reads “Official Election Mail” at the top with flamboyant stars scattered around it.

I suspect this colorful flare might be an attempt to grab the attention of disinterested citizens like myself. If so, I wish they thought to add a few inspirational quotes like “You decide your nation’s future” for additional motivation.

That was not a jab at GW’s new rebranding campaign.

When I began to think my apathy had gotten the best of me, I realized I was better off than I thought. I walked into my room a week or so ago just in time to hear my roommate call his mom and say, “Hi, can you tell me who to vote for?”

When I finally got up the courage to open my ballot, I immediately empathized with my roommate’s plea for help.

Normally I would do the same and dial my parents’ digits, but I find myself at a disadvantage in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. My family lost all cable and telephone service, and can only be reached during their thrice-daily trips to Target.

I was admittedly tempted to choose my candidates based on the sound of their names, but something tells me I’ll regret choosing senatorial candidate Robert Turkavage just because he has the nickname “Turk” listed in quotation marks.

Having resolved to conduct my own research into which candidates most align with my views, I recognize that this is a major step for me – considering I draw most of my political knowledge from Nas and Young Jeezy’s “My President is Black.”

Though I think I’m finally ready to seal the envelope and mail in my vote for the next Presidente, I seem to have reached one last roadblock. If Student Mail Services is closed on weekends, where am I supposed to buy a stamp?

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Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 10:15 p.m.

Just Joshin’

A look at the world through my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

Josh Perlman

Josh Perlman. Hatchet File Photo

My parents told me I had to come home on Halloween weekend for a family function.

I spent the following days visualizing all the Facebook photos I would never get the chance to be tagged in. My fear of missing out only worsened when I envisioned my planned costume, the “To-Do List” – a life-size Post-it note with assorted girls’ names scribbled on the front.

But as the weekend of all weekends neared, I began to think of my impending absence as more of a blessing.

Halloween weekend presents so much pressure to have a good time that it hardly ever lives up to expectations. I find it even more stressful than Valentine’s Day, and that’s saying something. My most memorable Valentine’s Day was spent watching “The Notebook” with my mother.

The biggest comfort of not being at school this weekend, though, was knowing I wouldn’t have to stress over whether or not my costume three costumes would be successful.

When I think back to my previous Halloween get-ups, none seemed to work out the way I hoped they would.

The first one that comes to mind was in fifth grade, when my friend and I decided to be Avril Lavigne and her drummer, respectively. This might have been a good decision for my friend (who received many compliments), but whenever we separated, I would just get confused for looking like a pudgy kid who hadn’t showered in a few days.

Fast-forward to high school, when my friends and I dressed up as contestants from “Legends of the Hidden Temple.” I was a Blue Barracuda, naturally, and I spent months perfecting my costume. When I showed up at school, nobody understood the mid-1990s Nickelodeon reference. One girl asked me if I was a “rollerblader.” First of all, I don’t think that’s even a thing. Second, “rollerskater” would have clearly been the more humorous choice.

My next costume fiasco was in my senior year of high school, when my friend and I dressed up as ketchup and mustard bottles. The only problem was that we didn’t end up going to the same Halloween party. I spent the entire night having people pout at me and say, “Aww, where’s your ketchup?”

I also didn’t appreciate people squeezing me all night.

Then I got to college and spent more than $50 on a Popeye costume. There weren’t many problems with this one, except people found the concept of me having muscles a bit too amusing.

Though it’s been a struggle for me to avoid thinking about all the Halloween celebrations I missed this weekend, I’m happy to know I saved myself some money and possibly some disappointment.

But if anyone is throwing Halloween parties next weekend, I might be forced to draw a lightning bolt on my forehead, put on shabby clothes and say I’m an alcoholic Harry Potter.

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Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 9:12 p.m.

Just Joshin’

A look at the world through my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

Josh Perlman

Josh Perlman. Hatchet File Photo

When we were younger, we were taught that when you see someone you know, the appropriate gesture is to wave and say, “Hello.”

This seems like it would be a pretty clean and simple rule, void of any confusion, but apparently college can complicate even the most innocent social norms.

My friend Pauline and I were at a party recently when she saw someone she recognized but chose not to say hi.

I agreed that plunging into the crowd simply to engage in mindless small talk was useless, but I asked Pauline anyway if she thought students at other schools encounter that same situation: two people who know they’ve met before, both pretending they haven’t.

She told me it was just a GW thing.

As I grabbed hold of my pimp hat’s leopard-print brim – it was a themed party – I contemplated whether or not the social interactions at GW are unlike those at other colleges.

At this school, there are all sorts of relationships worth analyzing.

There’s the “One and Done” – the person you wave to once after meeting them and then cut all ties to after that. This can cause some hurt feelings if one person ends things before the other. Timing is key.

Then there’s the person you wave to every time you run into him or her, but you don’t really smile and there’s no actual waving of the hand – just a slight raise of the palm. These faux-friends are always fun to deal with because their pained grins have “Do we really still need to do this?” written all over them. I always pray my smile doesn’t say, “I’m so glad we kept in touch.”

We also have the particularly awkward one-sided wave. I think “one-sided” is pretty self explanatory, but to put it more bluntly: The bitch don’t recognize you. We all fall victim to this embarrassing moment at some point, and all we can do is hope the other person is kind enough to offer a fake smile that shows they’ve never seen you before in their life.

To be honest, I’ve never understood the harm in just pretending you know someone. A friend of mine in high school used to walk up to strangers in the hallway and scream, “There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you!” It usually produced some interesting results, until she got bored of this and progressed to flapping her tongue at people.

There are also those select few who you meet every weekend but have to be reintroduced to each time. I had to tell this one girl my name at least five times before I came to the conclusion that my face isn’t memorable. I still see her on the street often, but we just give each other that  “Have we met seven times?” look and keep walking.

It’s hard to say whether these day-to-day relationships are found #onlyatGW. Though many students here complain about a general coldness among the student population, this could just be a coming-of-age realization of how standoffish people can be.

I just hope the “I’ve seen you naked” smile dies out quick after college.

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Registering for classes is often a chore, but this year GW seems to have overbooked itself.

Spring 2013 course registration for students with 90 credits or more is scheduled for November 6 – the same day tickets for the GW Inaugural Ball go on sale. Students, staff, faculty and alumni have attended the University’s celebration for every presidential inauguration since 1993.

This year, many upperclassmen hoping to buy tickets for the event will face a time conflict.

Tickets for the 2009 GW Inaugural Ball sold out on the first day, according to the event’s website.

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Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 8:40 p.m.

Just Joshin’

Josh Perlman

Josh Perlman. Hatchet File Photo

A look at the world through my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

I was engaging in a casual conversation with my friends during class the other day when Colin Powell’s name came up.

Feeling the urge to participate, I asked them, “Who’s that guy from ‘American Idol’ whose name sounds really similar?”

The judgmental look I got still haunts me. It was pretty close to the reaction I’d get if I decided to recite Boys II Men lyrics in Spanish.

Though I still stand by the fact that Simon Cowell’s name has the same number of syllables and an awfully similar pronunciation to Colin Powell’s, this incident was just one of many routine embarrassments that are typical in the life of a GW student who is not interested in politics.

I’ve decided to compile a list of my previous actions that seem to have sparked the most controversy for those around me:

  • Asking which party is on the left and which is on the right of the political spectrum. In my defense, they don’t teach you a cool way to remember this in elementary school, like forming an “L” with both of your hands and seeing which one looks more conservative.
  • Finding a search for the word “caucus” in my recent Internet browsing history. I wish I could say it was a search, but it was not.
  • Commenting on how the Capitol looks like a boob.
  • I think you know how I feel about the Washington Monument.
  • Referring to Capitol Hill as “that area where Mexico is.” I guess it is sad that I find rounds of free tequila shots at a Mexican restaurant more memorable than the home of the U.S. Congress.
  • Spelling “Barack” with two “R’s.” It only happened once on an in-class essay, and it was embarassing embarrassing.
  • Laughing every time someone brings up Deep Throat. I personally believe this is the most understandable of my transgressions.
  • Asking where the vice president lives. But actually, where he at?

I often compare my lack of political knowledge to how many people say they like every music genre except country. I may not be the most informed about the economy or this year’s election, but there are plenty of other conversation topics I’d be more than willing to light up a cigar over.

So before you judge me for asking you where the Korean War was fought, just know that you don’t have to be a political genius to go to this school. Some of us just chose GW because we think the cherry blossoms are pretty.

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Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 5:50 p.m.

Just Joshin’

Josh Perlman

Josh Perlman. Hatchet File Photo

A look at the world through  my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

I’ve always been a creature of habit, particularly when it comes to what I eat.

That’s probably why I’m one of few people who still buy Pop-Tarts on the regular. They’re the perfect on-the-go snack for every occasion.

At any given moment, you can be sure one of these mildly crushed pastries will be hiding out in my backpack somewhere, waiting for me to whip it out during class.

This was the exact chain of events that occurred during my biological anthropology lecture this week, but I hardly expected what happened after. I sat there eating my S’mores-flavored Pop-Tart, listening to my professor talk enthusiastically about monkeys, when I heard a voice next to me say something.

“Nice,” it said, just loud enough for me to hear.

I looked to my left and saw a complete stranger eating the same exact Pop-Tart I held in my hand. My jaw dropped.

Was it destiny? Was he my long-lost brother? Was he a stalker who investigated my eating habits and took the seat next to me so he could engage in a conversation about Pop-Tarts that would lead to us becoming best friends and put him in position to steal my life?

I struggled to find the appropriate reaction to his gesture and settled for one I would regret soon after. I made a motion as if to tap my Pop-Tart to his and said, “Cheers.” In hindsight, that was probably a bit invasive, considering this was our first encounter.

I felt a considerable amount of respect for this stranger, especially since I’m constantly criticized for my choice of the arguably bland S’mores flavor. It may be simple, but it reflects an inner ability to feel content without getting preoccupied with material extravagance.

Maybe our choice of Pop-Tarts was an indication that this stranger and I had that quality in common. I shudder to think what would have happened if we both chose the low-fat strawberry flavor. The sprinkles practically spell out “I wear women’s panties” if you look closely.

I continued to contemplate our possible commonalities until the class ended and my Pop-Tart blood brother got up and walked out the door. I gathered my belongings and prepared to do the same, but a friend of mine stopped me and pointed to the seat where the stranger had been sitting.

He had left bits and pieces of his half-eaten Pop-Tart sitting on the desk, next to a half-finished can of Coke.

“That’s so inconsiderate,” my friend said.

I crumpled my trash in my hand as I turned my back on the evidence of his betrayal.

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Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 8:32 p.m.

Just Joshin’

A look at the world through my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

Josh Perlman

Josh Perlman. Hatchet File Photo

I hardly ever leave my room without forgetting something. Usually, it’s something small I can do without, like a water bottle or a notebook. But when I forgot to put on deodorant one day last week, it caused quite a few problems.

I was eating lunch with my friend Pauline when I first noticed I smelled. The unpleasant odor radiating from my underarms made me realize in an instant that I had made that age-old, rookie mistake of neglecting my Axe.

Pauline told me it didn’t make a difference, but I couldn’t help feeling self-conscious. By the time I successfully executed my fourth stretch-and-sniff maneuver, she threatened to switch tables. Since the 10-minute walk to my room seemed daunting, I was forced to go about my day feeling like one of those women from the feminine itch commercials.

I developed a hyper-awareness of my armpits that was unlike anything I had ever known. Do they normally feel this prickly? Will I sweat less if I just concentrate? Are those pit stains forming? Why is the left smell more pronounced than the right?

I had become that kid from my high school whom everyone refused to stand next to during lunges in gym class. He hugged a friend of mine at a party once. The stench stayed on her clothes for hours.

Even the simplest actions were complicated by my constant need to keep my arms glued to my sides.

Maybe I have some kind of perpetual problem, I began to think. I thought back to that day in elementary school when my family sat me down in the living room.

“You smell,” my mom said.

She held up my very first anti-perspirant stick and told me, “I bought this for you. You have to use it every day from now on.”

I knew an intervention was a bit dramatic, even at the ripe age of 9 or 10.

After a day of over-analyzing whether or not perfect strangers were crossing the street to get away from my smell, I was sure I would never forget my deodorant again.

That’s why I felt particularly stupid when I made the same mistake again just days later.

I stood in Pauline’s room and almost screamed in frustration as the familiar prickling feeling in my armpits confirmed my fears. Not again.

Pauline stopped me when she saw me reaching for her Dove for Women.

“You’ll smell like a girl,” she said. “That’s just weird.”

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