One in 2000

It was nice out on Sunday afternoon. That is, the sun was shining. But it was also unacceptably cold. Nevertheless, I agreed to meet Jack Kling ’09 outside in the Science Quad. I found him sitting atop a picnic table – sitting cross-legged. Talk got real deep, real fast.

Jack, gimme five words that best describe you.

That’s not fair.

Okay, then. How would you introduce yourself to a famous person?

Hi, I’m Jack.

There you go. [Dogs barking in the quad.]How about to your future mother-in-law?

Hi, I’m Jack.

So Jack, what’s your philosophy on life?

[Pauses. Dogs continue barking.] Do what you need to do so that you can trust, respect and like yourself.

Interesting. Where did you come up with that?

[Obscenely long pause] I don’t really know where I came up with it. It’s one of those things that just grows inside.

I’ll skip around. You went on the Winter Study trip to Nicaragua.

It was awesome. It gave me a face and an example to put on a lot of the stuff I’ve been reading about in terms of social justice issues, agriculture, environmental issues, economic issues.

So how was the food?

I loved it. It was lots of rice and beans, but I love rice and beans. Lots of fruits and vegetables.

Are you a vegetarian?

I’m a vegan.

Why’s that?

For me, it rests primarily on personal health and environmental …

Repercussions. [Pointing] Are them Crocs vegan?

Are crocs vegan? Well, they’re made out of rubber, which … comes from plants, so in that respect, they’re vegan. Are they environmentally friendly? I suspect that there’s a greater environmental cost to producing them than there could be or that I would like. I know they’ve moved their plant from Boulder, Colorado to China …

DUN-DUN-DUUNNN …

Which has economic importance … and environmental regulations in China are …

Sucky.

Enforced even less than they are in the States.

Speaking of clothes, you’re wearing a skirt. Or should I call it a skirt?

You can call it a skirt. I put this skirt on this morning expecting it to be warmer. But, I got into skirts from dancing; skirts are so much more fun to dance in since they twirl, and they flare. I contradance.

So we’re talking, old Irish music, some turning and a lot of clapping. Yes?

It’s New England folk music, and there are fiddles and banjos, pianos. It’s like a cross between line dancing and square dancing, but it has more fun and energy than either of those.

It’s like two plus two equals five.

In two weeks, I’m going to NEFFA, the New England Folk Festival Association. [Kling receives a phone call.] It’s a huge, three-day long dance festival, held in some high school outside of Boston.

Are you going to tear up a rug?

I’ma what?

Get down on the dance floor type thing? Or does that not work in this type of situation.

Umm.

It probably doesn’t compare to disco that well.

No, you dance on wooden floors, you spin a lot.

Similar to disco …

You rip it up.

I’ve heard you’ve traveled a lot. Where’ve you been?

Well let’s start most recently and go backwards. Nicaragua in January, the spring before in India. Morocco, Venezuela, France, Chile …

So you hate Asia.

No! Well, let’s – okay, India is in Asia – but when I was 11, I went to Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Speaking of traveling, on your Facebook profile, there is someone who’s holding a baby. So are you a father?

No. The child, his name is Douida, he is a Berber whose family I stayed with for a night in Morocco on a camel trip.

Camel ride? Sounds uncomfortable.

There’s a trick to riding them, of letting your body go up and down with the camel. If you’re totally relaxed, you get slammed into the saddle. If you’re tense, you can make it smooth. At some level you need to choose between soreness in the muscles from using them, and soreness in the butt from getting it slammed over and over. I’d much rather have sore muscles.

Than sore butt.

I think my muscles are probably in better shape than my butt because it is used to getting smacked.

Makes sense. Craziest thing you did in India?

Spent two days fasting alone in a cave in the desert.

You ran out of food?

No. I just wanted to spend two days … fasting alone in a cave in the desert.

The interview dissipated as the sun set. I left the quad on my bike, only to notice out of the corner of my eye, Kling skipping and whistling as he passed Bronfman. He appeared to be in a state of pure bliss.