Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ode to Mike Flanagan

While all the freshmen at ND are waxing sentimental about this being the last day of classes – and don’t worry, I am, too, assembling an exciting collection of away message lyrics to use throughout the day – I would like to put this into perspective. You’ll be back in August (well, most of you), and you’ll get to experience another three years of limited responsibilities (those papers aren’t that hard), wandering around late at night and spending the majority of everyday with your friends.

My RA, the beloved yet pitied-at-this-juncture, Mike Flanagan, does not have this luxury. When asked if he was sad, happy, or mixed about his impending departure and the last day of classes today, Mike didn’t really think about it, and simply responded “Just sad.” We didn’t really see that one coming, why with high school graduation being a simple mix of liberating joy and tearful sentimentality, but when you think about it, there really isn’t a shiny lining to leaving behind a life you knew for four years and all the friends you met during that time with no future that doesn’t involve the words “9 to 5”.

I don’t think we could have gotten a better RA. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with Schulte or Brenner or Galen or any of those guys, but Flanagan’s Army was about as perfect as you could get. Maybe we didn’t exactly “participate in dorm events” or “give two craps about hall government”, but if there was a nice day, we were out on the quad playing cornhole or monopolizing the table outside the chapel for euchre use. Before we thought it a good idea to use the table or the weather allowed us to be outside, we had no trouble turning our hallway into a game room, and for a solid month, Gangster Rap Friday afternoons were the rule in Dillon 1A.

From Day One, Mike told us his room would always be open, and it was. The last night of Frosh-O, we joined Mike and some of his friends in watching the Summer Olympics, poking fun at the gymnasts and betting on events half of us already knew the results to. We watched old episodes of The OC in there, despite Mike claiming to despise the show, and anytime Mike was on duty, one of us was probably stopping in to help keep him company. Yeah, sometimes it took him awhile to return DVD’s, but it was a small trade-off for him letting you in the room every time you were locked out.

No one is more competitive than Mike. Section Football wasn’t an intramural sport, it was war, and Mike was always the most intense player on the field. Losing wasn’t acceptable, and when we lost in a rainy championship to Brenner’s section, who’d added a football walk-on to their roster, he accepted it, and we partied. Mike and I have almost came to blows over euchre rules before, and I think if he could repeat a single event of the year, it might be the time Katie and I blanked him 22-0 in cornhole in a total blitzkrieg. I never partook, but from the screams and curses coming from Dillon 116, things apparently got pretty fierce anytime he took on Chad or Brendan in Madden.

The coup de grace of Mike Flanagan’s RAing career took place at the last 110 Party, when he busted in early in the evening when there was maybe only 40 to 50 people in the room – along with Schulte and a few more reinforcements – and went on the fakest, angriest tirade about giving us leniency and this being how we repay him. To be fair, it was only fake to those of us who knew Mike, and the rest of the occupants were scared to death when he started collecting ID’s and taking down names. We managed to keep our composure – despite Mike yelling “Were you playing beer pong?!” and Brendan retorting “Do you see a table? Does it look like we were playing?” – until Mike started sending the girls out of the room, then quickly sending them back in, with the music turning right back up and us attacking Flanny in the middle of the room.

So while you get teary-eyed about having to go home next weekend, at least you’re coming back. You’re not leaving behind the droves of freshmen girls waiting outside your room taking numbers, watching football games from the Sea of Green, the girlfriend you got via use of a timely taken squip, consistently taking showers at 2:30 in the morning or wearing and carrying around all sorts of free stuff from a company you only claim you’re going to be working for. Granted, Mike will only be in Chicago, and the only thing more numerous than our pilgrimages to the Windy City to visit him will be his return trips to ND, but it won’t be the same for us or for him.

So that’s why I’m very excited for our section shirts to come in on Friday, even though there will only be a week left. I’m a proud member of Flanagan’s Army, and with the impending splintering of our section next year, it’ll be good to remember our cozy little nook of freshman year, with our cozy little RA who could rock out Jackson Five-afros or white pants without thinking twice.

Here’s to you, Michael Flanagan, who may be gone next year, but will never be forgotten. Since it was thrown together much too early in the morning, this Ode may not be the best, but you certainly were.

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