The Hourglass: The mystery of Sever-rancid Hall
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 15:02
Standing proudly atop a grassy hill and commanding the attention of passersby with its imposing gothic architecture, Severance Hall reigns supreme over West Campus. But all is not well inside these brick walls, for Severance harbors an ignoble secret. Indeed, tis’ a most foul-smelling secret, that has plagued the good-natured residents of Severance Hall to no avail. Dear reader, I am writing to you now with watering eyes and burning nostrils, of the great mystery of Sever-rancid.
In the golden autumn months of 2012, the residents of Severance were blissfully unaware of this dank mystery. They could peacefully travel in their pink bathrobes and fuzzy slippers from their dorm room to the dining hall, without having their nasal passages brutally accosted. Yes, times were much simpler, with only the occasional complaint of a cold shower or a shortage of sprinkles for Sunday Sundaes. As the weeks marched on and midterm season arrived, however, a strange odor began to waft along the main first-floor corridors. While initially regarded as a minor inconvenience by inhabitants, the potency of the smell intensified with each passing day.
Those who regained their consciousness after inhaling a whiff of this noxious aroma described it as a sulphuric egg-smell with a dash of expired dairy. Others likened it to a besmirched baby changing station with hints of raw sewage. Sickened by the smell, the residents approached the residential and custodial staff for guidance. After countless gas and smoke tests by the authorities, the residents soon lost heart when it was announced that they could not ascertain the exact cause of the smell. The situation soon received the moniker, “The Mystery of Sever-rancid Hall,” as it permeated the building. Perhaps it was the little Nancy Drew in me that could sense the intrigue surrounding this mystery, or perhaps it was just an overexposure to those fumes, but I resolved to discover the truth behind Sever-rancid.
Donning my protective facemask and vintage detective hat, I assiduously traced the smell deep into the pitch-dark bowels of Severance Hall. Wading through a sea of cobwebs and ancient debris, I spied a pale yellow light illuminating the end of the corridor. Surreptitiously, I approached the source of the light and pulled back the grimy crimson curtain. Bracing myself for some earth-shattering revelation, I must admit that I was somewhat dismayed to see only a brick fireplace emitting puffs of indigo smoke while it burned. As the potent smell made my head begin to swim, I crouched down to finish my examination of the fireplace. Inside the fire blazed several harshly graded Blue Book examination booklets! These merciless midterm exams were enough to fuel this rank fire. Plain firewood could not stand to contest with this kindling. The cramped room was in fact rife with stacks of exams from midterms passed—some as old as 1949 and as current as 2012! I had somehow stumbled upon the clandestine refuge for all Wellesley students to burn their unwanted graded midterms. This was the mystifying source of the Sever-rancid smell! Not wishing to disrupt this cathartic ritual, I resolved not to extinguish the fire, but instead open the flue to release the trapped fumes. Having survived this ordeal, I humbly share my tale with Wellesley as peace returns to Severance Hall. Residents can now breathe a little more freely as they stroll the halls, or at least until Spring 2013 midterms arrive.