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and a fist pump out the Ladd Library door, Bates senior Tim Miller makes his first post-thesis connection between the real world and his academic pursuits.
Hunched over the jukebox at Pub 33, just a meatball toss from Luiggi’s on Sabattus Street, his fingers fire away at the glass screen like the computer keyboard he’s been pounding since September. To win a free song, he has 60 seconds to hit all 41 music notes randomly popping up on the screen. It’s a feat he’ll accomplish several times this afternoon.
It’s 4:30 on a Wednesday, but Miller’s not alone. It is, after all, St. Patrick’s Day, and the redhead is exchanging high fives with reluctant locals at the pool table. He has a certain energy, a simple smile, both scarce in bars before five o’clock, even on St. Paddy’s Day.
In a movie moment, Miller leans across the table, looking to slice the five ball into a corner pocket, when his free song, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” rattles beer bottles on a nearby stool. He pulls back from the shot and nods to the beat. The lyrics, seemingly symbolic of Miller’s honors work and the pressure to make deadline — I fell into a burnin’ ring of fire / I went down, down, down / And the flames went higher — lose their luster when a middle-aged woman, sporting ’80s bangs and pulling a Marlboro from its pack, stops to tell him the song is about sexually transmitted diseases. “You know that, right?” she says, propping the cigarette in the corner of her mouth.
Miller is speechless, but he could probably defer this question to senior English major Elyssa Tardif, writing her honors thesis on the treatment of prostitutes in 19th-century English and French fiction. Miller and Tardif don’t know each other, but at Bates in March, the pursuit of honors connects the lives of this select group of seniors.
While most seniors do some sort of thesis project, only about 10 percent pursue the ultimate Bates prize of departmental honors. This year, 52 seniors took on the honors yoke, an experience that culminated in its own Final Four days: 96 hours of endless revisions, no sleep, and one final push to meet a deadline known as “the apocalypse” — Friday, March 19, at 3 p.M.