Campus Cribs: Poker B’s wacky world

If you’re looking for a group of humans that embody the word “zesty,” look no further than the seniors of Poker B. As one of the six apartments that comprise Poker Flats, a co-op housing complex, Poker B is a one of a kind “campus crib,” with residents for whom the phrase “eclectic bunch” would be an understatement.  Let me set the scene: I was ushered into a quaint living room that, at first glance, looked cozy with colorful lampshades and rugs. I was immediately offered peach tea and cookies, wherein Nick Dehn ’18 deadpanned, “Domesticity is always the objective.” There was silence, followed by raucous laughter.

By the second glance, I’d noticed a few things. There was a hospital bracelet taped to the wall. Photos showcased iconic Snapchat screenshots, glowing green-eyed tree filter included. A cat mask was relegated to wall status because, as I was told, it didn’t fit the pumpkin’s face. There were botanical prints mixed with goofy paintings, and there were several posters featuring quotes that were, let’s just say, linguistically creative. 

At this point, Marissa Shapiro ’18 was explaining how her broken wrist started the creative wall taping trend, all while Hannah Antonellis ’18 and Andrew Bloniarz ’18 were zipping through recounts of their days and Dehn was running between the kitchen and common room making lasagna. The razor-sharp wit and banter among the Poker B crew resulted in all of them talking a mile a minute and me trying not to cry with laughter. There was a level of familiarity and sheer comfort among the group that made the atmosphere feel incredibly alive. They leapt over each other’s words and finished each other’s sentences with a fluidity that could have only come from years of shenanigans and bonding experiences. One minute they were explaining the red hand prints on the backyard door, and the next they were recalling some of the niche theme gatherings they’ve hosted. Examples of such gatherings include a “secular baptism” with a temporarily acquired (then immediately returned) pool, palindrome celebrations with a “racecar” and a “lonely Tylenol,” and my personal favorite, an Internet themed get-together that centered around privacy, webcam tape and Steve Jobs.

The residents of Poker B – Antonellis, Bloniarz, Dehn, Shapiro, Cole Erickson ’18, Gillian Goodman ’18, Jensen Pak ’18 and Divya Sampath ’18 – are a motley crew of varied interests. Their majors span all three divisions, ranging from history to computer science, sociology to geoscience. Beyond the classroom, they are all involved in a myriad of activities with little overlap. Within that group of eight, there are cross country athletes and contemporary and hip-hop dancers, teachers and TAs, a cappella singers and DJs – the list goes on. Though most of them, through some combination or another, have lived with each other at some point, this is the first year that they are all sharing one space simultaneously. In fact, they informed me that all of them had not been in the same room together until this past September. This inspired one of their many unique traditions, deemed “Convergence,” where all eight gather at once and “document it well on Snapchat.” “It’s honestly really wonderful coming home to a concrete group of people each day, people who know me so well,” Bloniarz said.

The others nodded in agreement. “We think one of the best parts of this is that we have no cohesion in our activities – we operate very independently and it’s nice that our living situations bring us together when our activities wouldn’t really otherwise. Our friendships are getting richer,” Bloniarz said.

But of course, promptly after, they began squabbling about breakfast food.

With sass meeting snark at every turn and dozens of inside jokes to spare, the Poker B residents took camaraderie to a new level. They took me on a tour of the house that, in true Poker B fashion, started with a demonstration of the “Goon Room,” a window overlooking the living room that could be used to watch and/or startle unsuspecting housemates. This was followed by a visit to the kitchen. They showed me the “Yeast Wing” (named after a particularly pungent time after move-in day), and ended the tour with a description of their very recent Halloween costumes – Goodrich products.

At the end of the day, the Poker B residents showed me one of their mantras, displayed on a typographically and aesthetically pleasing poster in their kitchen. It read, “Bless this mess.” Nothing could be more fitting. Poker B, above all else, is chock-full of equal parts history and hilarity.