Void replaces 'Boca de La Veritas'

ave you ever noticed how much crap clutters the Student Union? I'm not talking

food here, or obnoxious long distance service information tables.

I'm talking about the giant gumball machine. The new air hockey table in Sam's Place. The photo booth. I'm especially talking about the video vending machine that sits on the lower level . you know, the one that isn't even working yet. As unnecessary as these features are, I just ignore them. I'm sure that somebody takes great pleasure in dropping coins into a big yellow tub and watching them spiral down to the bottom. I'm sure that somebody's daily routine would be upset if they couldn't get a gumball from the giant machine.

So why is it when the Student Union finally gets something useful, something that redeems the food in the Mexican restaurant, it only lasts a week before it is taken down? I know you know what I'm talking about here . the "Put Your Hand In My Mouth machine," otherwise known as the Mouth of Truth, or Boca de La Veritas.

For the uninitiated, the PYHIMM machine was a cheaply made monster face that was attached to the aforementioned photo booth. It was a copy of an ancient Roman idol, believed to be truth- divining. After depositing 25 cents into its slot, it would come alive, roaring "PUT YOUR HAND IN MY MOUTH!!" Hence the name.

When you put your hand in, your body would begin to glow . partly due to the embarrassment caused by the loud beeps and churnings the machine made while reading your hand. After everyone in Louie's Lower Level had come outside to see what the racket was, the machine would again bellow, commanding "TAKE YOUR HAND OUT OF MY MOUTH!!"

The machine was a practitioner of the ancient art of fortune telling known as hand-in- mouth reading.

After tasting one's hand, the machine would punch out a fortune for that person, informing them of their strengths and weaknesses. And we're not talking fortune cookie kiss-ass here. Some of the fortunes could be downright negative. For instance, one of my fortunes read, "Your capricious and inconstant nature will make it difficult for you to get on in life." My friend Greg also got this fortune, but was reminded that he is "evasive and not over-loyal" which is pretty nasty.

The machine actually gave you six statements about your life, as well as a chart that showed your life, love, luck, health and sex ratings. But let's be honest, I didn't spend my entire Wildcat paycheck on the machine because I cared about my fortunes . It's because I wanted to hear "PUT YOUR HAND IN MY MOUTH" blustered over and over.

Alas, as strangely as the divine machine had appeared, one day, while clutching a fistful of quarters, I found the space it had occupied to be, again, vacant. Words cannot describe the emptiness felt by the majority of the Wildcat staff, many of which had taken to tacking their fortunes on a bulletin board. Soon the mood of sadness changed irrevocably to anger and frustration as the staff struggled to replace the void that had opened in their world. Fights broke out. It wasn't uncommon to find my friend Greg with his head buried in his tear-soaked desk, shaking with the uncertainty that his future suddenly held. Jon Burstein would imitate the machine's blissful roar, but the laughs that accompanied his imitation soon shifted to mournful silence.

I contacted Mike Low, interim director of the Student Union, to find out what had happened to the mysterious machine. Unfortunately, things did not look promising.

It was removed "because we did not have a contract for it," Low said. Apparently, the operators of the photo booth that it was attached to were responsible for putting up the immortal hand taster. Sadly, I queried Mr. Low as to whether there were any plans for the machine to be reinstated.

"Not particularly," answered Low. "I didn't think it was too attractive. Did you?"

"Take it . or Leave It" is an editorial in every alterNation.

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