I was running late for my interview with Bridget Ngcobo ’12 when I received a mildly peculiar text message from her: “Please can we make babies. i can’t wait. umm. . . outside Paresky. cu then.” While this probably didn’t even rank within the top hundred strange things Bridget has proposed we do together since we met just over a year ago, I couldn’t help but wonder what she might throw at me in an actual formal interview setting. Bracing myself, along with her, we greeted, hugged and dove right in.
So, do you actually want to make babies with me?
. . . Or do I just say that to everyone? That’s kind of like the icebreaker of my life. “Hi, would you like to make babies?”
Have you ever “broken the ice” with a professor?
Perhaps . . . [in an Austin Powers tone with a devious glint in her eyes].
I don’t know Bridget; we never talked about this. Kids?
Actually, I’m not even sure if I ever want kids. Before coming to Williams I was very against it. Like, oh my god, it’s going to scream, and then what happens after that? But since coming here, I started babysitting and the kids I babysit have kind of changed my perspective. They’re actually on my screensaver. Now if I have a baby and it cries, I know I can just give it a lollipop.
And let it choke?
No way! I guess I used to be opposed to kids, but then I babysat and just fell in love. Maybe I just want someone to have kids for me.
On a somewhat related note, what message would you like to convey to all the sexy singles out there with their eyes on you?
On me? I don’t think they exist. But the way to my heart is through chocolate chip cookies. That’s all I’m saying. Well, anything chocolate I guess. I’m just really easy [pauses, realizing the sexual innuendo]. I guess that could have negative connotations, but I really am easy. Flower and chocolate equals drooling for me.
Anything else you feel the College community should know about you?
Well . . . something you might not know, and I don’t know if this is the right place to put it, but if not today then when. Umm . . . Well, I guess I’m not necessarily 100 percent straight.
. . .
So . . . you see, that’s why I can ask everyone if they want to make babies and actually mean it!
A-ha. Now I understand. Are you out?
No. I mean, I don’t mind being out. You can put this in. I guess this is a nice way to come out.
Are you sure this is all right?
Yeah, it’s chill. I guess I’d like you to specify that I just don’t like being boxed. Like bisexual is a term. Lesbian is a term. Straight is a term. But it’s all relative. And for me, I fall in love with people. If I fall in love with anyone, they’re going to be amazing, someone who challenges me and is just one of those people who makes me laugh and understands that chocolate chip cookies take prisoners. Someone like that would be perfect.
Yeah. I mean, in the end it’s whatever. Love is love.
How does your sexual orientation go over in South Africa?
It’s really difficult back home because it’s a different culture. Just by being at Williams I’m finding out so much more about myself. And now that I’m here, I just don’t want to close any doors whatsoever.
Speaking of acts of kindness beyond the opening and closing of doors, you’re pretty much the most infamous hugger on campus.
Yes! [screams] That’s my thing. I love hugging people. When I was in preschool, the teacher sent a letter home with me to my mom saying that I was scaring all the other kids because I hugged so much.
I guess your teacher’s efforts were in vain.
Yeah, I mean I could have been quite traumatized by the experience, but as you can see, I wasn’t exactly put off. I just think there’s nothing like human contact. There’s nothing like falling into someone’s arms and being like, this person really cares about me. That’s what I strive to do.
Break down your hugging technique, please.
I meditate at home about my hugs. Step one, visualize. Then approach the subject, wrapping ideally all four limbs tightly around them. Lastly, just feel it and appreciate it.
How tight is your squeeze?
I go all out. I’ve been known to crack backs. Apparently this is a good thing.
I probably should have asked this earlier â€“ how did you end up at Williams?
It was really an explosive sequence of events. I met this alum, a friend of my cousins, at a dinner, and we were talking and randomly he just said, “You’re a Williams student through and through.” Confused, I was like, “What’s Williams?” And he said, “It’s a liberal arts college in Massachusetts.” And I was like, “What’s Massachusetts?” From there, I applied and ended up getting in. Then I checked out the Web site, after I got in. I remember seeing the Eyes on the Web site and being like, “What have I gotten myself into?”
How were you convinced to come then?
At first, it was just out of the question because it was America, completely out of my world. I was this small town girl from South Africa from a Methodist girl’s school with 250 students. I’d hardly traveled inside South Africa, let alone Africa, let alone the world. So it just didn’t seem like a possibility. But somehow I grabbed it with both hands and now I’m running and I’m happy.
On the topic of happiness â€“ what place on campus makes you the most merry?
I don’t know. This place is so beautiful that if it weren’t for the hugs that make me feel like a human being, I’d actually think I was constantly in a postcard. It’s just so surreal, so different from anything I could ever have imagined during my childhood. I think it’s probably Paresky though, in Baxter Hall with all the couches. I love sitting there and just watching people smile and be happy or maybe be grumpy in need of a hug. That for me is what makes this place so solid.