I can’t get enough of our bespectacled founder, the man, the myth: Benjamin Franklin. It all started with my “Why Penn” essay when, like most of you, I Googled the heck out of this dude. Only after I thoroughly stalked this man’s life did it really emerge that we had a lot in common. We both wear glasses, except when I wear contacts. He stole ice cream from France and brought it to the States; I eat ice cream. Ben said and wrote some really smart things in his lifetime; I read them off the cobblestones of 37th Street on my way to class.
Ben was the epitome of a “Renaissance Man,” not only an influential politician, but also a successful inventor and polyglot; one time, I invented a really good excuse about why I was dropping Pre–Med and I had to deliver it in Russian to my immigrant parents. During a good part of the Revolution, Ben was just chillin’ in France, eating croissants; similarly, when my parents kept blaming each other for my failure, I kicked back in my room until I thought the climate was safe.
What it really comes down to is that Ben was just like us. We always view him as some pompous big–shot from a super long time ago, but if anyone understood Penn students, it’s the guy who founded Penn. The man was a zany, studious, nerdy bro who knew how to party down with a jug of jungle juice. Did I just describe over half of campus?
The folks peeing on the Ben–on–a–Bench statue by the compass sort of get it. These kids know Ben was a quirky man with an awesome sense of humor who wouldn’t mind their drunken dares and antics. They know my Ben, the real Ben. The Ben who interspersed his grandiose musings with some real gems like, “I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong” and “Beer is man’s proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
I mean the real Ben, who ran out into the storm with his kite and key because some hot TriDelt chick was watching him. He got laid, wrote to his bros George Washington and Thomas Jefferson about it in the morning and then headed off to his engineering lab, still hungover, cracked open his books, misheard his foreign TA and eventually understood electricity. The history books won’t tell you that, but you and I both know that’s how it really went down.
Some things are necessities, like air, water and the Koja food truck. Similarly, BFranks is an essential ingredient in any Penn student’s diet. He’s the long foundation stone in the Penn food pyramid, where the grains section was back in my day, before Obama made the food pyramid into a food circle… or something. Anyway, Ben Franklin’s a big deal not only because he reminds us of the history and tradition that surround us, but also because he reminds us of the impressions we leave on this campus today, just by taking after him and letting our personalities shine.