Phones and other things that have improved since 1997

With the end of February comes an opportunity to look back in reflection. In this case, I’m looking back 17 years to February 1997, when I was in the middle of my second term as a first-year student at Ohio State. Most of you were infants or toddlers. I’m okay with that. Because now, you are in your first year at Ohio State, and you are in the middle of your second term at Ohio State, and you get to benefit from my 30-something interpretation of my ’90s girl experiences.

My landline phone

Until recently, residence hall rooms came equipped with a landline phone, typically with a phone number that started with 688. Since the vast majority of us did not have cell phones, the landline phone was how we called home and each other. In my freshman year, we had to supply our own answering machine to go with our landline phone. The answering machine I shared with my roommate, Jen, looked like this:


One day in late February, I returned from class to our room in Mack Hall and I press the blue “play” button to hear our messages, and I hear a message from a friend something along the lines of the following:

Hey Nicole, not sure what’s going on with your outgoing message or if this is even your machine, but we’re all going to dinner at Kennedy Commons tonight if you want to join us. Bye!

Outgoing message? I was perplexed. So I listened to our outgoing message. As it turned out, Jen (who I think is like 1/16 Irish) had decided to celebrate the upcoming Saint Patrick’s Day holiday with this little gem (in a horrific Irish accent):

Top o’the morning to you! We leprechauns aren’t home right now because we’re off looking for our lucky charms, but leave us a message and we’ll be sure to get back to you!

I was humiliated. But, things got better: the following year, University Housing began to include voicemail along with the landline phone, and each roommate had their own access to a voicemail box. To leave a message for Nicole, press one.

Ross & Rachel break up

I challenge you to find a bigger Friends fan than yours truly, and my fanaticism has existed since college. In February 1997, Friends was in the middle of its third season, and in the last episode in February (because February is a sweeps month) Ross and Rachel, American’s most beloved TV couple, break up. I. WAS. DEVASTATED.

I must have sent a dozen emails back and forth to my best friend – also an avid Friends fan who was a freshman at the University of Dayton – through which we would create hypothetical scenarios and elaborate plot schemes that would reunite this fictional couple.

But, it got better. The next year, at the end of season four, Chandler and Monica got together. In my opinion, their relationship was far superior to Ross and Rachel’s relationship.

My class schedule

In my second term at Ohio State, my class schedule consisted of only General Education courses: Astronomy 1161, History 1151, and Psychology 1100. I hated all of them. I was a Journalism major (at the time), and I struggled to find the connection among the classes or to my major (in retrospect, I probably should have seen the History connection). I suffered through my second term (and my grades suffered, too) because I was uninspired by the course material and unmotivated to master the subject matter. I was plotting my crusade against the General Education curriculum until…it got better.

The following autumn, I took a political science class and a Spanish class that not only prompted me to become a Spanish minor, but also helped me to value the General Education curriculum. So astronomy wasn’t my cup of tea, and I didn’t “get” psychology. But had I not experienced those classes, along with classes that I did enjoy, I wouldn’t have had a holistic experience from which to discover my passion and interests, or to clarify my dislikes. There are people who are meant to be astronomers and psychologists; I was meant to be an English major. I learned that through my General Education.

Tell me what you want (what you really really want)

The end of February 1997 began a four-week run of “Wannabe” (Spice Girls) at the top of the Billboard charts.

But it got better? “My Heart Will Go On” (Celine Dion) topped the charts in February 1998.

Here’s hoping that today is the worst day of the rest of your life. Have a great weekend, Buckeyes!