Five Steps to a Fountaining

A birthday at Pomona isn’t just any ordinary birthday. If your friends have enough time, maybe they’ll decorate your door (see picture below). They might bake you a cake (or buy you one depending on how much culinary talent is in the sponsor group). Perhaps they’ll throw you a surprise party (less of a surprise if some people can’t keep secrets). Or maybe you all have midterms and all come to a consensus to keep it simple and make up for it later. The one essential component to any good Pomona birthday is the one thing that makes it unique: fountaining. What is fountaining, you might ask? It’s literally tossing someone into a fountain on their birthday, and here’s how to do it in five steps:

An ocean-themed decoration for one of my sponsees, Kyra Sanborn (PO '17), for her birthday!
An ocean-themed decoration for one of my sponsees, Kyra Sanborn (PO ’17), for her birthday!

1. Inception: You can’t fountain someone if you don’t know when their birthday is. But what if they don’t advertise their birthday? Can’t find it on Facebook? Aren’t sure if they’re using a fake one? Don’t want to seem super creepy by asking their mom? Fear not, the sponsors have a list of what are hopefully the actual birthdays of everyone in the group, and it’s definitely not creepy to ask us since we want in on the plan as well (in fact I’ve coordinated several of the ones that we’ve already done this year). If someone’s birthday falls within a break, half-birthdays, quarter-birthdays, and occasionally eighth-birthdays are all acceptable substitutes. If none of those works, you can just pick a semi-close / semi-random date and throw them in whenever it’s convenient. Basically, you can’t escape being fountained simply by virtue of having been born at a particular time of the year. 

2. Laying the Framework: Fountaining someone isn’t exactly as easy as walking someone over to a fountain, gently lifting them, and then lowering them into the fountain as if you were performing a baptism. Granted, some very compliant people will consent to this, but that’s not very fun, and most people will at least make a break for it if not spend the entire day on the run from their sponsor group. You have to consider questions such as, “when are we going to fountain them,” and “which fountain,” and “how are we going to get them there?” Perhaps you want to recruit a little outside assistance from your target’s friends or their significant other. Maybe you’re going to ambush them outside of their classes. Don’t forget the classic post-dinner fountaining outside of Frank. Basically you need some kind of plan, because trying to plan it on the fly leads to utter chaos.

3. Game-Day Preparation: This is when you figure out that half of your plan has gone to pieces. Maybe they agreed to go to dinner with you (setting them up to be fountained right afterwards), but then their parents came to town and took them out. Maybe they have three midterms and a paper due tomorrow and are really stressed out. Maybe they came down with a nasty case of food poisoning the night before (true story). This is where you get creative, furiously tapping out text messages to your friends to discuss a new backup plan as the hours slowly fade away. Finally, you come up with a plan, achieve a semi-democratic consensus to give it the green light, shoot off a Facebook message to everyone about where to be and when to be there, and put on your good running shoes in case the birthday person looks like they’re going to make a dash for freedom.

4. Moment of Truth: Everyone’s assembled and waiting for the signal. It’s time to execute the plan of attack. You remain calm and appear as if it’s just another regular day, but inside, your heart’s pumping faster, the adrenaline’s flowing, and you’re ready to roll! You exchange shifty-eyed glances with your accomplices, and bit by bit, you subtly cut off all of the directional escape routes, taking care to make sure that they’re within arm’s length should they choose to bolt. Of course, the birthday person is wary of this large group; they know what’s up. But the longer you wait, especially if you pass one fountain without any sign of taking action, the more they allow their minds to relax. And that’s when you grab them, hoist them up by their arms and legs, and march them off to a fountain of your choice in a manner similar to that from Star Wars when the Ewoks captured Luke and his friends (using food as bait is an acceptable tool for facilitating a fountaining). Some might squirm and wriggle more than others, but presumably a group of at least five can chase down and subdue even one resistant person. You launch into a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” as you approach the majestic aquatic display and then (gently) drop them (usually flailing and screaming) into the fountain.

The end product of a successful fountaining of my sponsee, Kyra Sanborn (PO '17) in the fountain over by the Art Museum
The end product of a successful fountaining of Kyra in the fountain over by the Art Museum

5. Fin: After you’re friend has been unceremoniously dumped into a fountain (which probably has a bunch of dead leaves in it), there’s a fair chance that they’ll try to give you a sopping wet hug, especially if they pegged you as one of the masterminds behind the whole scheme. It’s probably in your best interest to flee as fast as possible to a safe distance, although if you’re nice, you’ll give them a hug and then hand them a towel to dry off (this is crucial in the colder months). This is also a good time to fountain anyone else who may have escaped from your clutches on their actual birthday. Then you can all go back to your hall, the victims of the fountaining can shower and dry off, and you can all return to your daily lives (albeit a little more apprehensive if your own birthday is on the horizon).