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Achtung! Lot 23 security kiosk offers meager line of defense against visitors

All I can say is that if this were the Middle Ages and a pack of unkempt Germans had their sights on us, we'd be screwed. And this time I'm not referring to the buy-one-get-one-free Weinerschnitzel special down at P.J.'s Pancake House. I'm talking about a particular bastion of campus security. I'm talking about that little, helpless pagoda down at the end of Elm Drive, sitting smack in the middle of the street — the one that you have to curl around to drive into Lot 23. What is that thing?

When I first came to Princeton on a visit, I thought it was a drive-thru kiosk and ordered one large chicken parm and an Orangina. Since then, I've learned that the little hut serves the purpose of harassing my mom whenever she visits. "Where are you going?" "What are you doing?" "How long are you staying?" "What's the capital of Michigan?" The questions never stop. Every time I've ridden through there with her it's like we're going to the principal's office. We pull up feeling strangely guilty about entering. My mom has her defense ready, knowing she'll only have approximately 10 seconds to endear herself to the stubborn, unforgiving gatekeeper, and it always sounds something like this:


"Hi sir, that's a nice shirt-pant combo — I'm just gonna drop him off and pick something up from his dorm, and I'll be out in five minutes, and I'll make sure to run between the car and dorm — oh God I'm so sorry, I'll never do this again — I am so evil and should have parked at the TGI Friday's on Route 1 and walked here — Yes, please let me through your gate, your majesty." (She bows.)

That's the power the hut-master has. The power to intimidate my mom. Real nice, hut-master. But let's explore him more closely while recalling the ever-lurking German threat. It's true that weaseling your way through the gate is both uncomfortable and demeaning, but for crying out loud, a charismatic billy goat could create a strong enough argument to gain entrance. Now what's going to stop the Germans? What I'm saying is that security at the University's southern entrance is wanting. That's no imposing fortress we've got sitting there. And have you seen its roof? It's like some octagonal birthday party hat you were embarrassed to wear at Billy Schubert's third grade party. The Germans'll be laughing from here to Oktoberfest.

Look, I don't want more security either, hotshot. It's not like I need to live inside Fort Knox or something. Wait — Fort Knox is that place where they keep all the gold, right? Then I do want to live inside there so I can get rich from said gold and play with gold trinkets. Disregarding the draw of precious metals, however, I'm content with life and security at Princeton. But when you're going to try to intimidate my mom by flaunting a power that in reality is as ornamental as Richard Simmons on a Mardi Gras float and as impotent as a eunuch who's misplaced his Viagra, then you've gone too far.

Let's say the German hoard approaches, God forbid. It's not going to stop when you wave that little red light of yours or start throwing pebbles at the giant German catapults. But alas, I have forgotten about the weapons you brandish, the very ones that instilled fear in all would-be-midnight-nude-snow-prancers — the digital camera. Undeniable proof that can easily be placed on a Website for Yale professors to download. "That's Thor in this photo by East Pyne ravishing that maiden, and over there is Hervenmetonix pillaging stair climbers from Dillon Gym. Boy, will those guys be screwed in a court of law. We've got 'em on digital camera."

In conclusion, let's do something with that tiny building that's useful. We can hold precepts there, or maybe house the entire Geosciences department. Or put people who smell real bad there so they don't stink up campus so much. Or maybe we can finally turn that citadel of powerlessness once and for all into a kiosk, brimming with decadent chicken parms and intoxicating Oranginas. Eric Bland is from Richmond, Va. He can be reached at