Rarely do nerdy enough things happen on campus that I can make into appropriate subject material such as this, but here’s one: as of Thursday, Oct. 17, the UMD Underground is back open for business, in its entire retrofitted, bomb-shelter splendor. The opening of the room really isn’t anything to get excited about, but in my case if I were to pick a place on campus were I would reminisce the most often, it would be in the not all-that-well-ventilated area underneath the Kirby lounge. As an aside, the new lounge looks very nice and seems to at least be an attempt to solve the problem of serious lack of electrical outlets on campus. Going back to the Underground, it serves a special place in my college career in that it was essentially the beginning of it. When I came to this school, I didn’t know anybody, so when the Underground advertised it was having a free night to try the place out, I went there in hopes I could meet some people who shared similar interests. Normally I’m a pretty shy dude who keeps to himself, but fortunately that night, I overheard a discussion about Magic cards.
And that was that. It was one of the few times in my life that I forced myself into someone else’s conversation. I jumped at the opportunity to not stand there awkwardly amid the dozens of people. And it was a good thing I did. The people I met there were not only the first friends I made at UMD, but half of them became roommates, even to this day.
From then on out until about midway through my junior year, the Underground served as a meeting ground for my friends and me. The relaxed environment coupled with a plethora of comfortable chairs meant a great place to just hang out. The numerous TVs constantly rang the sound of upcoming games and people trying out whatever games they felt like playing in between classes.
We became good friends with one of the guys behind the counter who ran the Smash Bros. club, which eventually turned into just fighting games in general, which eventually just turned into whatever we felt like playing. We would spend nights keeping him company and watching movies, sometimes with up to eight TVs loaded with different fighting games ready to be played at any moment. One night was spent watching one of the groups beat “Resident Evil 5,” which may just be one of the funniest things any person has put to paper.
When the store closed and the TVs were stripped from the wall, we moved upstairs to the lounge, where we would put up a projector and again play whatever we felt like. We then started hosting the occasional LAN party, catered and everything. Things carried on this way until our friend graduated and moved to Florida. At that point, the Underground mostly became the place I would occasionally bump into people I never saw all that often anymore.
Sometime late last semester, I pretty much stopped seeing these people altogether, with only the occasional text or Facebook message to remind each other that we were still alive. I hope that with the place back open I’ll be able to bump into these people again, even if only for a few minutes before class. Like I said, I appreciate that the place is back open as it has always been one of my favorite places on campus and the promises of more chairs is rather enticing. Next we’ve just got to find a way to work on the airflow.
By ZACK WEBSTER