By Goose II: The Reckoning
(Not a bunch of geese in a trench coat)
Even after we’ve emerged from the depths of quarantine and been out in the world for a few months, some of those human skills that we used to have still seem out of reach.
For those who want to stop living like cave-dwellers, there are classes being offered in downtown Chestertown to help with just that.
Here’s a list of a few of the courses that are being offered.
The art of making eye contact
Sure, we’ve lost a lot of social skills over quarantine, but is eye contact really that important? It feels awkward and you’re never quite sure when to break it off — but there are some strong believers in the art of eye contact.
I.C. Miller is one such believer. After receiving his degree in Eye Contact from Harvard Business School in 2013, Miller has been travelling the country, preaching the importance of eye contact in communication.
“When you make eye contact with someone, you can see into their soul,” Miller said. “It’s the highest level of human connection — I remember every eye I’ve ever looked into.”
Miller said that this skill has landed him countless business deals, although he couldn’t provide examples.
Fortunately, for those of us who awkwardly stare at the ground whenever we pass someone on campus, Miller is teaching a class in Chestertown called “Eyes Are the Window to the Deal,” focusing on the key to proper eye contact, and how eye contact can be the key to your success.
The course requires an essay or two about the importance of eye contact, but the focus is mostly on real-world experience. Students practice their skills by going around Chestertown and staring down civilians.
One of Miller’s favorite activities is pairing students up and having them make eye contact for 30 minutes straight. Everyone stands six feet apart, so bring your glasses.
The final exam is a staring contest with Miller, which can last up to six hours. Although it seems like a doozy, Miller guarantees that the course will prepare students for such a task. Past participants say that the course really helped their confidence, and the amount of uncomfortable, prolonged eye contact they made during interviews only proves the effectiveness of “Eyes Are the Window to the Deal.”
“I always shy away from eye contact,” Jane Smith, who signed up for the course this spring, said. “I can’t even make eye contact with myself in the mirror. I don’t even know what color my mother’s eyes are. I’m excited to finally get over my fear.”
Those interested in the course should sign up quickly. The course takes place in the tent next to Queen Anne’s House, where, despite its size, there are only 10 people are allowed at a time.
The mysterious “sleep schedule”
It’s fair to say that we all let our bedtimes slip during quarantine. Whether it be through watching YouTube videos until 4 a.m. or sleeping a good 15 out of 24 hours — or both — it can be hard to re-adjust to the college schedule.
Dr. Will Pill, a Chestertown sleep expert has created an unorthodox, yet award-winning method for resetting your body clock. He calls it the “no-sleep marathon,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like: patients stay awake for long periods of time, which supposedly resets their body clock.
“I’ve suggested that patients stay up for about a week for the full effect,” Dr. Pill said. “Once it hits eight o’clock [p.m.] of the last day, they’re just knocked out. It really cements that bedtime in the body.”
After a few health scares, Dr. Pill also developed fewer, less extreme methods, like setting alarms at the same time each day — even on the weekends — not using your phone an hour before bed and investing in some Sleepytime tea.
Or, he suggests for students, join a sports team.
“Those kids are getting up to go to practice at five, six in the morning,” Dr. Pill said. “That kind of forces you to go to sleep early, otherwise you’re passing out on the field or falling out of the rowboat.”
If these are problems you have, or if you just want to get your pre-quarantine energy back, tune into Dr. Pill’s Zoom class this spring, called “Knock Yourself Out,” available on his website, before the 30 available participant slots fill up.
“When I kept falling asleep in class, I knew I needed to sign up for Dr. Pill’s program,” Gus Washington, who is currently enrolled in the course, said. “I’m excited to go back to having a real sleep schedule again.”
Although grades fall to a D average during the “no-sleep marathon,” the results after completing the class are real: Washington College professors have praised the course after students not only started attending 8:30 a.m. classes, but also started turning their Zoom cameras on.
Fast food: an addiction
There is an epidemic happening on college campuses nationwide — students are becoming addicted to fast food.
If you do not have a steady income — or if there is an esteemed liberal arts institution sucking up all your money and putting it to mysterious uses — then spending your remaining funds on fast food is not a sustainable budget.
“It really is an addiction,” Carl Senior, local self-titled fast food addiction counselor, said. “These kids get hooked on McDonald’s or Dunkin’ [Donuts] and they just can’t stop.”
As we all know, acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step to recovery. If you want to take this first step, attend Senior’s class in downtown Chestertown, “Kiss the Burger Goodbye.”
The course has 20 slots available, and classes take place both in town and on the College’s campus.
One of the exercises Senior teaches, specifically for students at the College, is meant to “build up a tolerance” to Dining Hall food, especially the vegetables dunked in oil and the copious amounts of pork.
“I just put them on a diet of the greasiest, oiliest food I can find from the Dining Hall,” Senior said. “Surprisingly, a lot of the vegetables are greasier than the pizza. I don’t know how they do it.”
For the final exam, students must prove that they have not bought fast food for an entire month, a process which involves a cholesterol test. Unfortunately, some food from the Dining Hall has been found to contain higher amounts of cholesterol than the unhealthiest fast-food joints.
Still, the course has gotten shining reviews from participants, most of whom are almost out of meal swipes.
The sweatpants cleanse
It is never a bad idea to dress comfortably, but we all fall into certain patterns with our clothing choices. If you have as many pairs of sweatpants as WC has had presidents, then it can be easy to fall back on them for every outfit.
Jean Couture, Chestertown’s first-rate fashion expert, is holding a class for people trying to end their unhealthy relationships with sweatpants. It’s called “Sweatpants: The Root of All Evil” and has received plenty of praise from Chestertown’s fashion scene.
Despite the prevalence of low-effort outfits around town, Couture promises that the community does, in fact, have a fashion scene.
“Some of my students just recoil at the sight of jeans,” Couture said. “My program is all about exposure therapy to these different styles of pants.”
The class, which can have up to twenty people, meets at the waterfront. The docks are often used as runways, where students model their outfits and give feedback to their peers.
Exercises include buying jeans and other types of pants from Chestertown’s local shops and donating your own pairs of sweatpants to local thrift stores.
For the final exam, students must go a whole week without wearing sweatpants. Couture claims to have “eyes all over Chestertown” to see if students are breaking the rules.
“A lot of participants really struggle with the final exam,” she said. “They get the shakes, cold sweats, fevers — but no one regrets going through the cleanse.”
Although it’s a painful process, it’s very effective.
“I wore sweatpants and a sweatshirt every single day,” Jack Brown, an alumnus of the course, said. “I was practically drowning in my clothes. Now I get compliments on my style all the time.”
After revamping their closets and shedding harmful habits, Couture’s students have turned the streets of Chestertown into their own fashion runways.
If you’re ready to emerge from your quarantine cave and be human again, these classes are a great place to start. Although it can be tough to make time between Zoom classes, procrastinating, and reading the hundreds of emails from the Career Center, you won’t regret trying the courses Chestertown has to offer.
Featured Photo caption: If you’ve been feeling a little less than human lately, the town of Chestertown is now offering courses on how to be a normal person in a post-pandemic world. Photo by Duck Dodgers.