While trying to make progress on my policy memo yesterday, I went out for a walk to get food from one of New Jersey’s prime gourmet retailers: Wawa market. On my way, a coursemate alerted me that there was some raucous action going on at the Seminary down the road. It turned out to be true. Much to my bemusement, they were dancing the night away to the tune of “Single Ladies”. I don’t know much about Presbyterians, but that is definitely not what I thought Scottish Protestants do at night.

Today it was the day of lawn parties, a local tradition whereby all the undergrads get dressed up, start drinking at 1 pm and invite some cool bands to play on campus. I decided to tag along, partly because I have not been to a drunken lawn party since 2005 and partly for the ethnographic value of witnessing the mis-education of America’s privileged youth first-hand.

After getting dolled up for the privilege of seeing drunk teenagers produce seizure-like body movements, I showed up with a group of friends after the main act had played. We were sober and five years older than the average. It was kinda anti-climatic so we ended up going back after a little bit.

On the way back, a Mexican friend and I followed the sound of salsa music to find out that the Seminary next-door was having a lawn party of their own, possibly to kick off the academic year. Said Mexican friend is a salsa pro and I am determined to get enough sunshine before the East Coast gives me a taste of the glacial era, so we decided to stay. It looked like a family event, so it was a very diverse crowd: babies, ethnic minorities (is this a PC thing to notice?), good dancers. There were booths of various student associations, including a LGBT society (where a clown made balloon animals for children. This would have not gone down well in a Catholic seminary). There was a BBQ and a popcorn machine, just in case I needed to be reminded I was in America.

I find many things in America odd in a European judgmental-kind-of-way, but one must give America credit for doing diversity very well.

Being raised a Catholic in a country where the Vatican talebans have a say in our internal politics and after living for 4.5 years in the Middle East I have come to realise the following:

clergy ≠ fun

Besides, the only free food I ever got out of the Catholic Church was tasteless wafers and a sip of wine (and that only if you did not misbehave since your last confession).

At some point two men pushing a stroller stopped to get some fliers by the LGBT booth. I felt like I was hallucinating. Someone has slipped a roofie in my Pepsi Diet, I remember thinking.

Not only the Presbyterians are fun and open-minded, they are also very friendly. We outed ourselves as party crashers to the people sitting at our table (as we were eating their BBQ food) only to be met by smiles and encouragement. It turned out our fellow burger-eaters were the Reverend and the Head of Admissions. Ooops! They seemed very pleased that we had stopped by. The Reverend produced a business card. The live salsa band had announced they’ll be playing a round of merengue. My Mexican friend was asked if I was her husband. I don’t know what she replied, I was gone for seconds of food. We both rejoiced that we had dressed up, so at least we didn’t feel like total party crashers. Occasionally we would look at each other with a puzzled look and say: “This is surreal”.

As we were leaving I noticed a very hot man, manning a booth calling for more missionary spirit and such things. I’ll spare you the obvious crass joke, but I still have a question: in America, is it politically correct to say a seminary student is a DILF?

PS: Totally irrelevant, but you should not miss this video. Do not try this at home.