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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Column: Sugar in my coffee

As a senior embarking on my second-to-last quarter at Davis, I’ve come to realize that some things are unchangeable, absolute. These are truths that I have discovered myself or have come to accept after many years of battle. I pass these truths on today in the hopes that they will somehow enrich the lives of others as much as they have mine. Let’s begin.

1) Baked goods make you friends. Walking into any social gathering with freshly baked goods on hand will make you more friends and admirers than a smattering of deodorant and a tastefully planned outfit will ever do. I’ve found that with cupcakes in hand, people seem to forgive how late I’ve come to the party, the inexcusably inappropriate state of dress I’m in and the dirty jokes I make about bodily functions while others are eating. Instead, I am showered with compliments and attention. (“Katherine, have I ever told you how perfectly symmetrical your breasts are? I mean, my god.”)

2) I have a voyeuristic food-preparation fetish. It’s pretty bad: just watching food being prepared by any member of the male sex gets me off. For example, I often go to Subway not because their selection of sandwiches satiates my desire for fine dining, but because I love seeing the guys behind the counter make it right in front of me. (“Oh yeah. You put that pickle in its place.” “Excuse me?” “Nothing. Could I get that toasted?”) It’s sick, but where else can a girl get a show and a sandwich for a few dollars?

3) The squirrels on campus are not afraid of you. After years, perhaps decades, of living side by side with the UC Davis student body, the squirrels have gotten used to and have subsequently built their lives around our daily routines. Nothing fazes them anymore. Sometimes, a squirrel will even charge straight toward a bike, just for the adrenaline rush that otherwise escapes him from day to day. He just wants to feel something, you know?

4) The seedier the bar or club, the better the story. Like many other college students around my age, I enjoy going to the occasional bar or discotheque to drink and/or dance. (The dancing usually transpires after the drinking.) But I also go for the stories. While upscale bars and lounges aren’t lacking in atmosphere or class, sketchier bars are teeming with characters that one might otherwise never see in the realm of academia or sunlight.

When I go to the seedier places, I may leave with a suspicious new stain on my dress or a smell reminiscent of alcohol and regret in my hair, but I also leave with a good story. Like that one time I went to an 18-and-over club with some girlfriends in San Francisco and saw this small, very young-looking girl dry hump a guy old enough to be her father on top of an indoor terrace. You can’t see this stuff on an everyday basis, man.

5) Grabbing an iced mocha frappuccino and a sugary pound cake at the Starbucks in the ARC and eating it leisurely in front of the people in the weight room is always good fun. And a good way to get your ass kicked. Learn from my mistakes.

6) People change. Do you remember those cute little notes that you’d get in your yearbook in middle and high school, urging you not to change because you were so perfect just the way you were? Well, you probably have changed. I have at least.

Some may argue that they haven’t, or that there are some things about a person that can never change. For example, I can’t change the fact that I am a second generation, Chinese-Vietnamese American woman … right? Hm. Add in the salient nature of personality and identity to the socially created confines of gender, race, sexuality and class, and it’s no wonder that self-actualization for college-aged kids is so hard. Like a spoonful of sugar added to hot coffee, a personality trait can disappear underneath the brown murky depths after only a few swirls. How do you deal with that?

I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it all out. All I know is that for every spoonful of sugar, Nutella or milk that I put into my coffee, something changes. If anything, those mysterious additions to my coffee make for a richer cup of Joe.

If you, too, suffer from a food fetish, contact KATHERINE TANG NGO at kthngo@ucdavis.edu. You are not alone.


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