After making my ascent up the five long flights of stairs, my lactic acid-filled legs were ecstatic to reach the cultural oasis that is Gladden 5A (G5). At the top of the staircase I was greeted by Chester, a large hammerhead shark, hinting that the décor of this campus hotspot would be less Martha Stewart and more eclectic (read: weird). I headed into the common room where I was greeted by Tomer Golan ’18, Ian Mook ’18, Tom Riley ’18 and Justin Sardo ’18. Alexandra Scarangella ’18 was also present, in the middle of creating an art piece commissioned by the classy residents of G5. Julianna Kostas ’18, Sarah Ladouceur ’18 and Tobias Muellers ’18 are also residents of this Greylock penthouse, frequently participating in the tomfoolery that occurs regularly in this wild suite.
Over the summer, the group decided on a lawn theme for their decoration, which they have executed very well. Their decor seems to celebrate a nostalgia for Americana lifestyle, or maybe it’s more reminiscent of Capri Sun and kickball days. Either way, the common room is super neat, sporting an eclectic mix of ornamentation. A grass carpet is decked with a few lawn chairs that are weaved with purple and gold vinyl fabric, a very spirited and personal touch. Riley and his grandmother worked on the seats over the summer. The chairs are over 50 years old and are an incredible vintage find. (My appraiser is working on the value.) Plus, the adorable level of Riley making the lawn chairs with his grandma is off the charts. Also contributing to the lawn theme is a flamingo and a few wooden cows. There is also a remnant of their first-year experience: Morgan the Pumpkin. Featured in the hallowed pumpkin game a year earlier, Muellers has held onto this beloved relic, even though she’s a bit moldier and smellier than in her earlier days. The gang’s love for garden sustenance is further exhibited by the continuing presence of a common room vegetable; it’s unheard of for G5 to be without one. I was introduced to a parsnip, or maybe it was a gourd, but because the common room vegetable is always changing, my memory failure is irrelevant.
This theme of variation is also mirrored in the red inflatable dinosaur that sits in the south corner of the “croom”, as it’s known by the sophomores. Each time the dinosaur is referred to, it must be addressed with a new name; its identity always changing. This is one of many policies heavily enforced by the G5 residents. There is also a shirtless rule for guys, highlighting some hot male bods from time to time. G5 rituals and formalities continue in their beautiful granite washroom. All residents and visitors to the Gladden 5A bathroom are encouraged to document their defecations in a poop journal where deep thoughts and tic-tac-toe are penned down, providing a space for creative exploration. The bathroom also has a shower radio where the velvety voice of Ira Glass (of NPR) and Fetty Wap alike are enjoyed by residents as they scrub behind their ears.
The common room sports a sweet DJ-ing setup and a great table for “homework.” A banner on the wall reads “Penthouse Project,” emphasizing the sophisticated and fun vibe that G5 constantly emits. Another ritual of G5 is the routine playing of Connect Four. I decided to play a game for journalistic purposes, and as a longtime aficionado of it, I was pretty confident in my playing abilities. However, Riley was an equally skilled opponent and our match ended in a draw. “Winning isn’t that great, but losing sucks,” Riley said of the game.
Not all activities of G5 are G-rated like Connect Four. When asked what the weirdest thing that had happened in their humble abode was, it was difficult to pick one strange event out of a copious number of goofy and bizarre happenstances. The gang decided that the nude modeling and drawing session that occurred in the common room next door was pretty weird, especially since one of the resident’s parents was visiting G5. I think the parent got a great, intimate perspective of student life at the College.
During the course of the interview, many students from different walks of life stopped in to say hello to the G5 residents. G5 is the center to an orbiting collection of kids who love to hang out with the G5 gang. “We always have fun, that’s generally the rule,” Sardo explained, and this was very evident by the many students who stopped by the hip pad to have a good time on a Saturday afternoon. While some residents fear that their “Penthouse Project” banner or sophisticated swagger comes off as a little grandiose and flashy, I would disagree completely. The guys and gals of G5 are sweet, down to earth and know how to have a good time. They attract students of all kinds, and are awesome, albeit weird, folks. Although they are still working on getting a white picket fence for their idyllic grassy knoll common room, the G5 gang has definitely encapsulated the principles of friendship and fun, creating a home for a great group of friends. I hope they invite me back for another Saturday night soiree, or at least for a Connect Four rematch.