THON Is Every Day, And The BJC Is An Inescapable Purgatory Of My Own Design

The saying goes that THON isn’t just the one weekend, but rather THON is every day. For me, this is not some mantra to keep on keeping on, but an inescapable reality. You see, for weeks now I have been trapped as a prisoner, perhaps of my own mind, in the Bryce Jordan Center during THON 2015.

I don’t know how it happened, but I am sure that I can never sit down unless I visit press row, and I can never leave. I thought for a while that I was hallucinating, maybe I had fallen asleep while standing up and lucid dreamed, or zoned out really hard during my 37th line dance of the weekend. However, after the total reveal came and went and teardown began and I tried to leave the BJC, my understanding of the continuous universe was rendered totally null and void. After 46 hours of celebration and exhaustion, THON simply started all over again.

I didn’t believe it at first, going through THON the second time, but everything happened in the same sequence. Surely if I had dreamed up this THON, it would not be repeating itself. However, all attempts to awaken myself from this nightmare have been rendered moot. Three red-cloaked figures, nameless, faceless, and voiceless that time and each meeting since, have restrained me. They are constantly guarding all exits of the hellish façade that has become my life.This may sound like heaven to you, and reliving the amazing weekend that is THON is an incredibly exciting prospect in theory. But hundreds of consecutive hours of anything — even the best weekend of the year for a Penn State student — is more hell-like than you can even imagine.

I sneak into the press room in the catacombs of the Bryce Jordan Center with my Onward State press pass to sleep, continually exhausted despite time’s seemingly endless nature. I don’t age, I don’t grow any more facial hair, I am simply a body frozen in time, forever jogging on a treadmill, perhaps of my own creation.

$13,026,653.23. That number is ingrained in my head like no combination ever has. Not my birthday, not my social security number. $13,026,653.23. It haunts me, a paradox of time and space that has consumed my existence and seemingly only mine. $13,026,653.23. I can never leave, and they’ll never let me. $13,026,653.23. I don’t know what I did to deserve this fate, all I know is I am really really sick of BJC hot dogs. $13,026,653.23. I have to be serving some greater purpose here, I’m meant to be here. No universe, uncaring and unjust as it may be, would bend its will to trap simply one man. One lonesome, solitary man. $13,026,653.23. I wonder if the world continues to go on outside of this building. $13,026,653.23.

They say time stops for no man. They say time is a flat circle. I don’t believe in time anymore, I only believe in increments of 46. There is no pain in this universe save for family hour, which I relive and am still constantly stirred by. The dancers never change, forever waltzing and jumping and stretching. My fellow Onward State writers continually push the same stories out. The continued joy of my co-workers is perhaps the only thing that keeps me going. I wonder if I’m the only one who is stuck like this.

I may not have been a THON expert, but I am certain I could fill any role in the organization now. Dancer Relations Captain? I know the line dance better than you’ve ever known anything in your life. I live and breathe it every hour of every day in this perpetual, colorful hellscape. Finance committee? I’ve known the total since before you were a twinkle in your mother’s eye. Hospitality? Every meal combination possible in this building has entered my stomach in some capacity. I believe the cones and rods in my eyes have become adjusted to neon tints, and I fear for my vision once I finally complete whatever quest I have in this building. I know where each organization stands, which outfits they wear, and, unbeknownst to them, how much money they’ve raised. Everything they know is a pattern in my mind. Nothing gold can stay, but everything neon is eternal.

I tried telling my story, but to no avail. Everyone believed I was delirious or insane or both. So now, I’m submitting a post, hoping someone will understand. Maybe this is my purpose, to tell the greatest story ever told. But it pains me every day to see my friends dedicating what seem to be months of time to an event’s success over and over. Nothing ever changes unless I interact with it, and it follows the designed path it was originally on the next time through. I have never been as sick of a song as I am of “Blank Space.”

THON is today. THON is tomorrow. THON was yesterday. THON is every waking moment of my life. I’m supposed to be graduating soon. Is there an alternate universe where my life continues to go on, or one where I am missing for the last month plus? Is the universe testing me? These various possible realities are too much for me to comprehend, and continually overwhelm my mind.

Maybe I’ll never get to leave. Lean with it. Rock with it. Penn State. Now pop with it. Yes. Those are the words. The soundtrack to the permanence of my seemingly-impossible plight. Hands out. Stretch back. Tighten up your fanny pack. I make a run for the doors, but the red cloaked figures once again hold me back. I can see the daylight. I just want to breathe the air and feel the sun. Alas, it’s all for naught. 46 on the clock. Grab your tutus and high socks. Everything is nothing. Nothing is everything. 15,000 on your feet. Dancers, ya feel that beat? $13,026,653.23. Please, someone, anyone. I’m begging you. Help me.

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About the Author

Noel Purcell

Noel Purcell is Onward State's Features Editor. He's a senior Supply Chain major, but is going to law school at some point in the future and masquerades as a writer for now. He continues to disappoint his ancestors by being a complete Irish stereotype. His email is [email protected] because there were no other Noels before him. His ex-wife got the good half of his bio in the divorce settlement.

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