Intellectual Growth in College: Try Slugging

By Jenny Barkan on January 22, 2014

At the beginning of the school year, my friends and I crafted our ideal senior year bucket list. With everything from sneaking into the football stadium to hosting our own Thanksgiving dinner, we picked our favorite ideas that we were determined to complete before graduation this May. We posted our finalized list on a homemade chalkboard in our TV room for all our guests to see and we promised ourselves we would scratch each item off as soon as it was achieved.  One of our first accomplishments that eagerly stood at the top of our list: Slugging at Scorekeepers.

“Slugging” is a term I feel as though most college students can relate to. My roommates have coined it as a reference to the activity of wearing sweatpants and sitting on the couch while doing nothing except eating or watching movies, and over this long, cold winter break my mom recently deemed the phrase as “Jenny’s lazy mood.” When I find myself slugging, I refuse to put on clothes that would make me slightly more attractive or do anything that requires any energy at all. I’d rather wear my pajama pants and slippers to the grocery store than take five minutes to brush my hair—that, my friends, is slugging.

The description of item number one on our bucket list goes exactly as follows: Head to the popular campus bar Scorekeepers (primarily known as Skeeps to all who frequent it) immediately after slugging. There would be no time to put on presentable clothing, throw on mascara, or even brush teeth. We’d have to arrive at the bar exactly as we had appeared when sitting on the couch just a few minutes earlier eating cookies and watching Law & Order.

On a Saturday night in October after a long day of studying, my roommates and I reached the end of a slugging session. It was almost midnight and we sat there chatting—bored and lazy—until someone suggested we cross off “Skeeps Slugging” from the list. I hesitated, naturally, because I was in my lazy slug mood, but after a few seconds of discussion we all agreed it was the perfect time.

“Nobody change at all! Grab shoes and were going!” my roommate yelled.

We rolled into Skeeps wearing oversized sweatpants, hooded sweatshirts and messy ponytails. I surveyed the scene and darted to a booth, secretly hoping that sitting at a table would hide my outfit. At first, I felt stiff and embarrassed, but as the line started to get longer and tipsy college kids fled into the bar, I took a sip of beer and relaxed a little.

Girls piled in wearing tiny skirts and sky-high heels. I chuckled at them, realizing for perhaps my first time that Skeeps is just a Midwest sports bar rather than a chic nightclub in Miami. I looked at them, minimally clothed for the October chill and drunkenly flashing their wallets to pay the bar’s entrance fee. They all seemed overdressed and underaged. I laughed and told my roommate how crazy they looked.  She stared at me blankly.

“That’s how you used to dress here, Jenny,” she said. Truth.

I flashed back to my freshman and sophomore years, recalling pictures of myself wearing tight black dresses and dark makeup in this very same bar. I did exactly what these kids were doing, yet why did soberly wearing sweatpants to a bar make me feel so superior to everyone else?

We forced ourselves to get up from the table and take one lap around the bar before leaving. People we knew laughed at our appearance and complimented us on our bravery as we explained what we were doing. Strangers, however, glanced at us with confused expressions. Some chuckled and others gawked with disgusted faces. But despite the perplexed looks, I was loving it. I felt totally comfortable at this point and my friend even overheard a group of young boys comment on how cool those “seniors wearing sweatpants” seemed. I started to realize that maybe I had actually evolved a little—perhaps my goal for a night out on campus was changing.

As the lights came on and people began discussing where to go for late night pizza, I pushed through the crowd and exited my favorite bar. I’m almost positive I heard a girl say that I looked like a bathroom stall as I scurried into a taxi. I started laughing hysterically; “That was a good one,” I thought to myself of the girl’s observation.

Last year, however, I’m not so sure I would’ve been able to appreciate a comment like that. I would have felt insecure and worried that I was wearing the wrong thing and I would’ve compared myself to the likes of every other female walking through the bar’s entrance.  But I didn’t do that.  Things like graduating on time and getting a job made me feel tense—being out on campus with my best friends was the opposite of that. I was calm and I was enjoying myself. It seemed, then, that Skeeps had finally revealed itself to me as more than just a place to order long islands for a dollar and dance under the familiar yellow “M” painted on the wall—it was a measuring stick for my undergraduate experience in Ann Arbor.

Freshman year, I was lucky enough to enter the famous campus joint once or twice. Sophomore year was a bit more regular, though sometimes the line would be long and I’d be waiting in the cold in my short skirt and suddenly my night would be ruined with the shake of a head from the bouncer. Junior year, I had celebrated my 21st birthday inside Skeeps, and I’ve rarely missed a weekend after that. And now it’s my senior year and I guess all I can say is I’m wearing sweatpants to Scorekeepers.

It’s only fitting that this bar revealed its role in my college experience through the execution of a senior-year bucket list. We wanted to complete “Skeeps Slugging” with the intention of having a funny story to tell, making our friends laugh, and making others question our weirdness. I’d never thought that I would slug at a bar—an activity that was to be confined solely to my couch and my bed. But if looking like a bathroom stall in public lends itself to gaining a more accepting and developed perspective on how I’ve grown so far, then I’m down to throw on my sweatpants and head back to the bar.


Senior at the University of Michigan studying English. Enjoys traveling, writing, seeing good movies and eating. Favorite food is anything Italian. Has four cats and a giant sheepdog. Loves to take pictures of her four cats and giant sheepdog.

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