Out of the three years that I have been attending St. John’s, Croquet this year was probably the most entertaining. Granted, the Johnnies didn’t win the competition this time around, but it was still great to be out on the lawn meeting all the people and drinking nice wine.
Right after lunch that day, I got dressed into my Croquet clothes (keeping with the Great Gatsby theme) and made my way to the front lawn. As usual, there were hundreds of people already there, many of whom had placed blankets on the ground and covered them with an assortment of wonderful desserts and sparkling glasses of champagne. The weather was surprisingly sunny, which clearly pleased everyone there. I worked my way from McDowell to the BBC in order to get a good view of the opening ceremony. There were a couple of speeches given by members of both the St. John’s community and the Naval Academy followed by the introduction of the members of the croquet teams.
Like every year, the St. John’s croquet team would get creative with their uniforms and wear something absurd. Last year, they were dressed as security guards, complete with badges and walkie-talkies. Rumor had it that this year they would be dressing up as horses. It turns out that, as humorous as that would have been to see, it was too difficult to decide which people were going to be the heads and which the rears. So instead, we were treated to eight Waldos in red-striped sweaters and beanies. I thought it was brilliant and particularly entertaining to be able to play a live game of Where’s Waldo whenever I got bored.
After the big reveal, the St. John’s Freshman Chorus went up and sang the National Anthem (which they pulled off surprisingly well). This year we were also treated to the new school anthem. Although I enjoyed it, the old one that I sang back in freshman year will always be more appealing to me. The old fight song was a parody of the Naval Academy anthem, and I thought it really demonstrated the cheekiness of St. John’s students, but I guess it is about time we had our own anthem. Now we can stop making fun of the Middies and make fun of our own song instead.
After the opening ceremony, the games began, and everyone made their way either to their picnic blankets or one of the food stalls. I eventually met up with one of my friends who had reserved a spot next to the field, and we spent our time watching the game and guzzling down on treats. It was great to see so many people in costume. Many of the women had brightly colored, elegant dresses, and the men were all dressed up in shirts and ties. It was funny to see some of my friends in something other than jeans and t-shirts. Because of that, we ended up taking a lot of pictures, and I have a feeling that a lot of my friends changed their profile pictures that day.
The great thing about Croquet is that you don’t have to be watching the game to enjoy it. One of my friends eventually pulled out her book and started reading when she got tired of watching the game. Whenever I needed to move around, there was always swing dancing in front of the BBC where I could dance (or whatever it is I attempted to do) and meet new people. My friends and I also have our own little tradition that we affectionately call the Annual Croquet Nap. By 3 p.m., we’re usually overstuffed with food and drinks, so we end up either going back to our rooms or lying down on the picnic blanket and taking a short nap. Stretching out under the trees and feeling the breeze makes those naps something to look forward to every year (it’s the simple things in life, right?).
The match eventually ended around 5:30, at which point most people had already left to get some dinner. To everyone’s surprise (including the Middies’), the Naval Academy won, making it their sixth win out of 31 games. I was a bit disappointed, but if I think about it, it’s probably a good thing. If the Middies never won, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. I used to wonder why they even bothered to play against us to begin with. Turns out they do have a pretty good shot (pun definitely not intended).
After dinner, most people headed back to their rooms to get changed to attend the annual Spring Cotillion. The Spring Cotillion is the most formal dance organized by the Waltz Committee and is attended mostly by the same people who attended the game. It’s a great way to end the day with lots of things to do. There’s swing dancing for the more lively people, a live band for people who just want to relax, and snacks for people who are hungry. I fit into the last category, so I typically look forward to the annual strawberries and whipped cream that are served at midnight. Seeing as it was a special occasion, I ended up eating four cups of them (I have no regrets).
All in all, this was probably the best Croquet I’ve had. It was a lot of fun—not the wild, crazy kind, but the sort of fun that you would want after working so hard for a whole semester. Actually, that’s probably why croquet is the perfect game for this event. Sometimes you just need to relax, look at the grass, and take your time thinking about what your next move is going to be. With the school year coming to a close, it’s good to be spending those last few moves with my friends before we each head our own way for the summer.