One in 2000: Serge Marte ’08

This week’s One in 2000 is Serge Marte ’08, who actually lives down the hall from me in Garfield. Before we met for an interview, most of our interactions had consisted of me awkwardly grunting hello through a mouthful of Listerine when we met in the bathroom, so I was excited to finally get a chance to chat with Serge and get him to answer all my nosy questions in the name of journalistic inquisitiveness. After spending roughly 50 hours missing one another despite living about 30 feet from one another, we finally sat down in my room to commence our verbal joust.

So, Serge, what do you think of my décor?

[slowly eyeing my room with distaste.] It’s very homey. Yeah. Homey. Ooh, I do like your Disney Princesses poster, though. It’s really sexy. I wish it had Pocahontas. She’s my favorite. Which one’s your favorite?

Well . . . I would have to say I think Jasmine is the hottest, but I’d probably choose Belle as the all around best.

[Spying my chainsaw bear.] Oh, what is that? I don’t like it. It’s tacky. It’s perfect for the fireplace.

It’s my auxiliary firewood in case the heating fails in the G-Spot [editor’s note: Garfield] this winter.

Uch, I hate this building. It’s a trash bin. It’s like, if someone dropped a reject gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel into the middle of Williamstown. This building is one big fashion faux pas for the entire campus. If the buildings on this campus were fashion designers, this building would be like Versace after Donatella took over. Green carpet, brown house, sketchy cement stairway.

I don’t really get the reference, but I appreciate the sentiment. At least the company is nice, eh?

Yeah, you guys are nice. You’re quiet, but then on the weekends you make enough noise so that I don’t think you’re complete nerds.

Thank you. Where are you from, by the by?

Bronx, New York.

Oh, nice. I’m from right across the lovely Hudson in New Jersey, best state in the Union.

For me, nothing really exists west of the Hudson, especially New Jersey. Are you from the stinky part? My dentist is in New Jersey, so I would go and it would smell so bad. Fortunately, he was close to the river so I could hold my breath while I was over there.

If you only went to New Jersey for the dentist, no wonder you hate it. Let’s change the subject. So, what exactly would you say you do here?

Well, if it’s not singing diva classics – Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera – or hanging out with my friends Luz and Anisha – hey, girls – then I’m probably working on my thesis.

Ooh, for what department?

Wigisst.

Beg’r pardon?

Wiggist. WGST? Women’s and Gender Studies?

Ah, of course. I love learning new acronyms. So what’s your thesis on?

[Laughing] Well, the simple explanation is I’m looking at what it means to articulate black cultural identity through performance in media and text. Specifically, I’m looking at this movie, Paris is Burning, about contesting notions of identity through visual representation. And I’m also looking at kinesthetic semiotics . . .

Come again?

[Laughing] That’s how body movement constructs a narrative of social histories, oppression, sexual identity, etc., etc. That’s it in a nutshell.

Er, and how’s that going for you?

Actually, it’s really great. I’m not only treating the film as a text but also as a representation of real people’s lives. You have to be really careful how you apply a theoretical framework to real people. It’s like the movie Pretty Woman. You can’t just dismiss Julia Roberts because she’s a prostitute. Also, she wears amazing thigh-high boots. I wish I had a pair; that’d be so fun.

Word. So, can I ask the awkward senior question about what you’re going to be doing next year?

Oh, that’s easy. I’m applying for a masters program in social work and jobs in chem labs. Then I want to go to medical school. I want to be an ob-gyn. All those jobs involve working with people, but in very different ways.

So you like people?

People are fun. It’s really interesting watching how people move through space, and how they reveal so much when they’re trying to hide so many things. A lot of times when I see people around campus I want to go up to them, tap them on the shoulder and give them a big hug. People are hiding so much stress around here – we should all really hug more. It’d really help. And not the “I want to take you to bed” hug but the type of hug that makes you warm above your belly button.

That’s awesome. I think that’s a brilliant idea and we should totally start doing it. Any parting words? Any final message to impart?

Ooh yes. I love this one: Keep it cute or put it on mute, Williams. Keep it cute . . . or put it on mute.