I met Mickey Babek ’20 when he was my Where Am I?! frosh at the beginning of the semester. He was always full of energy and, from the very first day of the trip, never failed to make the group erupt in laughter. I wanted to get to know a little bit more of Mickey’s story, so I sat down with him to discuss his hometown, love of basketball, dreams of skydiving and more.
So, Mickey is actually a nickname for Michael. What is the story behind that?
My real name is Michael, right? But ever since I was born I’ve been called Mickey. My dad said that he started calling me Mickey after three people: Mickey Mantle from the [New York] Yankees, Mick Jagger and Mickey from Rocky, who’s this old trainer. Every time I introduce myself to someone here I’m always like, “Mickey, like the mouse.” Actually, I was almost called Minnie in my class. I raised my hand to sign up for this thing on Glow, and my professor asked for my name, and I said Mickey. She was across the room and couldn’t hear me, so I was like, “Mickey, like the mouse,” and she goes, “Minnie?” She got it after.
Can you tell me a little bit about where you’re from?
I’m from Rancho Palos Verdes, California, United States of America. There are two high schools on the hill on which I live. I live pretty close to Trump National Golf Club and it gets graffitied a lot now which is a little sad, but it’s kind of funny.
You live pretty far from Williamstown; do you miss your family?
Yeah, it’s been tough being away. I actually called my grandma last Sunday, and it was the first time I talked to her since I’ve been here. She picks up the phone and she’s like, “Hello?” And I’m like, “Hi Grandma,” which was already a mistake on my part because she has three grandsons and she’s 89 so it’s hard for her to tell who’s who. So I say, “It’s Mickey.” And she’s like, “No,” and I’m like, “Yes, it’s Mickey,” and she’s like, “No it’s not” and I was like, “Grandma, it’s Mickey.” And she goes, “You have phones over there?” and I was like, “Yeah it’s a modern place. There are phones on the East Coast and my cell phone still works here.” And that’s the story of how my grandma didn’t think there were telephones on the east coast.
How would you say people often describe you?
Weird. Like, literally everyone is just like, “Yo, you’re really weird.” But I think weird is a good thing.
So, what is it that brought you to the College?
I started getting recruited by the coaches for basketball, and I actually hadn’t heard of Williams at all before I started talking to the coaches. And then I looked it up and I was like, “Oh, this is like the best school [laughs] in America.” I figured pursuing the school was a good idea. But it’s funny – on the West Coast, there’s a good amount of people that don’t know what Williams is, and when I tell them that I’m going to Williams, a lot of them are just like, “Oh … nice.” And I’m just like, “Yeah, you have no idea,” and then I pull up the Forbes ranking.
Legend has it that you once got into a fight at a game. Is there truth to this rumor?
Well, basically I was in this tournament in Las Vegas, and one of the guys on my team gets a rebound and he gets pushed to the ground. And he thinks he’s really tough, so he stands up right away and pushes the guy back, and all of a sudden I just hear a bunch of footsteps and I look behind and their whole team is just running towards us. I knew I was about to get knocked out, so I put my hands up and I was ready to throw punches but no one was coming towards me. So, I just stood there waiting while everyone was going towards my teammates and I was like, alright, no one wanted to waste their time on me. I guess I was kind of in a fight, but not really.
You obviously love basketball. What’s your favorite team?
[The Los Angeles] Lakers. I cried during Kobe [Bryant’s] last game, and I lost my voice.
What has been the most surprisng thing you’ve encountered at the College so far?
The people here are much friendlier than back home. No one wears socks here. There are a lot of Sperrys going around, and I bought a pair of Sperrys before I got here but I haven’t worn them yet. It just doesn’t feel natural and I have a disgusting ankle tan that I have to get rid of before I start rocking Sperrys. But, by the time I’m able to rock Sperrys it’s going to be snowing apparently, and I’ve never seen snow before. I’ve seen it like once when I was a baby, but I don’t count that because my brain wasn’t able to comprehend what was going on.
If I went onto your iTunes right now, what would your most played song be?
A week before I got here, it was definitely anything off of Chance the Rapper’s album, Coloring Book, but then I rediscovered an old time classic: “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride.” It’s in Lilo & Stitch, and it is pretty much the greatest song ever. It makes me feel so happy and other people judge me for it for the first 30 seconds, but then they just start loving it as much as I do, and now I’m getting requests like, “Ay, give Mickey the aux cord so he can play that Hawaiian song.”
If you could spend a day with Chance the Rapper what would you do?
I would probably take Chance the Rapper to the Santa Monica Pier and we’d get some ice cream. Then we’d go on this Ferris wheel that’s on the pier. Then I just want to go into the recording studio with him and have him make a beat for me, and I’m going to freestyle for him. And then I want him to freestyle for me. And, no matter how bad it is, he has to put the song out on iTunes, so I get the royalties. That’s my ideal date.
What is the top thing on your bucket list right now?
I kind of want to skydive, but I have a fear of heights and a fear of parachutes not working. I also want to make a snowman.
If you had to choose, what would be your favorite word?
Cacahuates – it’s peanut butter in Spanish. Actually, I might have to check on that. I think it may just mean peanut.
What are you looking forward to on campus?
Definitely basketball. I was also thinking of taking piano lessons here, because apparently they’re free. I see pianos around more than you’d think. I would say probably 10 percent of the rooms I walk into everyday in my life have a piano in there and I just want to be able to just jam out – do something crazy, you know.
Life Plan E after Williams if Plans A-D fail?
Well if you take Plan E and you smush it together you get plane, so I would become a pilot I think cause that’s just the logical way of looking at it.
Do you know someone with a cool life story, whacky talent, or memorable experience at the College?
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