Friday Fly: Nordy’s Place


Garrett Aguilar

(Illustration by Garrett Aguilar | Staff Illustrator)

By Maggie Koontz | Columnist

“Friday Fly” is a recurring column dedicated to a fly on the wall’s perspective on campus spots and daily life here at Pitt. This is the third installment.

As the flow of students through the William Pitt Union basement slows and shadows lengthen, the bright blue Nordy’s sign beckons students for a night of fun activities or a meal with friends.

Through the large glass windows, students coming into Nordy’s Place can see ping-pong tables, a billiards table and a foosball table — all in use this particular evening. Two glass doors just to the left of the neon sign open into the lounge area inside from the coldly lit cafeteria.

Miniature square lights in the ceiling and narrow tubes of light affixed to support columns provide a comfortable amount of light that doesn’t hurt your eyes — unlike the fluorescent lights in most buildings on campus.

Patches of tile and faux wood cover the floor, giving way as you go farther back to a carpeted area to sit and study. Tall bar chairs around black circular tables pepper the room, as well as a few smaller tables.

Wooden doors, some real and some decorative, form a ring around the left half of the room. A stage stands in front of them, the past and future site of everything from heartfelt open mics to somewhat staler Student Government Board meetings. If there’s any afterglow of energy left over now, it’s hard to see it. The space is open and empty on a weeknight without any events, like the scenery for a performance without any words or actors.

On the right, clear glass doors open into the commuter’s lounge, a safe haven for tired traveling students. In this lounge, which is separate from Nordy’s, students slouch on chairs and listlessly scroll on their phones to pass the time. A couple of students enter the commuter’s lounge with their dinners in the form of takeout boxes from restaurants around Oakland. Near the entrance on the left, a wooden bar where undergrads can check out recreational equipment clings in the shape of the letter L to the corner of the room.

At the very back of Nordy’s, another bar with various appliances stands desolate, only really active and popular during events. Hungry students passing by might be enticed by a glass old-timey popcorn machine on the counter, but the contraption almost always disappoints when closer inspection reveals that it’s empty. The lighting behind the bar at first leaves the contents of the set of cupboards a mystery as well. Unfortunately, they’re just as poorly stocked as the food machines.

Over by the pool table, a boy in a long-sleeved plaid shirt plays a game with a girl in an olive sweater. Visibly concentrating, the girl takes careful aim, but misses the cue ball. She quickly attempts the shot again, but the boy objects — that was her turn. A lighthearted argument ensues, but the girl finally gets to take her second shot. The game proceeds without any more points of contention.

Two guys at a nearby ping-pong table seem to be embracing their competitive nature too, as they exchange good-natured verbal jabs back and forth over the net with every hit. A third provides commentary, visibly adding to the excitement of the game. The guys trade places after each round, with the loser taking a turn as commentator.

Occasionally, the tiny white ball flies across the room, sending the guys in a comical chase through study groups and friends eating personal pizzas. The ball seems to spend more time off the table than on it.

While the students play their games, an employee sits at the wooden activities desk. His laptop is open in front of him and he stares intently at it, although the girl sitting beside him seems to be taking most of his attention. She is probably keeping him company, since this job can be quite boring most of the time.

The location is also great for a meal, whether it is by yourself or with others. Sitting on one of the bar chairs at a tall circular table, a boy wearing a Pitt script sweatshirt eats some soft tacos from the nearby Taco Bell for dinner. He has his earbuds in, presumably listening to music, and he stares at his laptop screen, showing an assignment on CourseWeb.

Nordy’s has more to offer than just games. It’s a relaxing place to work. A student sprawls out on one of the patterned comfortable chairs in the carpeted corner. His feet are propped up on a small wooden table and his blue headphones sit snugly over his ears. The boy has a hardcover book by Peggy Noonan open on his lap and he lightly underlines some words with the pencil in his hand.

The students here might look more relaxed than their peers anxiously cramming throughout the rest of campus. You’d never know that these kids, absorbed in their novels and chasing after rogue ping-pong balls, are facing the same impending doom.

Maggie primarily writes creative nonfiction and about student life for The Pitt News. Write to her at [email protected].

The Pitt News is looking for students interested in creative writing, including creative nonfiction, poetry and short stories to write for the Opinions section. If interested, please contact [email protected].

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