America's Oldest "Tea Drinking and Whisky" Speaking Society

Great Moments in Merton Society History
The Great Nooner Debate
On May 16, 2002, at the Society's meeting held after the Cottage Club All Member Dinner at the University Club of New York, the members of the Merton Society were treated to a great debate undertaken by Prince Eric, Fils de la Poire, and Lady Rachel, Duchess of Bohania.

The Great Debate Begins

Their topic? "The Dangers of Coeducation, or Cottage Without Women (1886 - 1986): One Hundred Years of Misfortune?" The audience's anticipation for the debate was enhanced by the rumors that Prince Eric recently had discovered the joys of French cuisine, and that Lady Rachel recently had learned the art of rolling a good cigar.

The following is the text of their presentation.

Prince Eric: Because our time at Princeton has taken for granted the existence of women, the prospect of delivering a lecture to a room full mostly of men, many of whom escaped coeducation, has given us a chance to reflect on our own perilous predicament.
Lady Rachel: Indeed, it seems to me that life must have been unbearable without Cottage women, much less an entire University devoid of our enriching presence. Because many of you survived through the lean years of Princeton, I thought you might require an introduction to the joys that we have brought to daily life.
Prince Eric: They may have been lean years, my Lady of the Smoldering Leaf, but the legends and lore of those times leave the modern Cottage man full of envy.
Lady Rachel: I can't imagine what you mean by that, Mr. Frenchie Pear? Need I list the countless ways you are better off? Any simpleton can see the clear advantages of coeducation.
Prince Eric: Well, I can assure you that it was a much simpler time. Ah, the days of old, when a man could be a man in his club! When I could have enjoyed a post-dinner cigar without the female members avoiding me...
Lady Rachel: Prince Eric, that is why the female members avoid you after dinner. And, when the Cottage women do speak to you, you certainly enjoy their company more than most....why, just yesterday, I saw you turn away from game of bocce to flirt with girls sunning on the balustrade. You didn't seem then to be pining away for the days of old....
Prince Eric: Well, my dear Bella Humidora, bocce may not be my game, but in the days of old I certainly would not have turned down a tennis game on the Cottage court to hear about the girls' suntans. But ever since the arrival of females, we are limited to bocce and croquet!
Lady Rachel: By what erroneous logic are you attributing the loss of the tennis court to the arrival of women?
Prince Eric: Well, can you blame them? I mean, they couldn't have women playing on our tennis court!!
Lady Rachel: Why? Were they afraid they would lose?
Prince Eric: No matter. I will raise my glass any day to the all male tennis court. Here, here!
Lady Rachel: I assure you, O Consumer of Buttered Snails, that you and your male classmates are far better off with us around. We're a civilizing presence, we're far more mature, sophisticated even...but if you can't understand our contribution in that respect...I think we both can agree on the mutual social benefits of coeducation. What would a themed night at Cottage be without girls?
Prince Eric: Oooh, the beauty of Catholic School Girl Night!! The product of pure genius. A nearly perfect evening!
Lady Rachel: O Cultivator of Cognac, I didn't know you enjoyed it so much. Really, it's nothing that's one night a year when the girls come dressed like catholic school girls, wearing short skirts, and knee socks, and well little else, I guess....
Prince Eric: O Blower of Bohanian Smoke Rings, perhaps you have been blinded by your own smoke, and you have failed to notice that the male contingent prowls the club clad in their most inappropriate interpretation of a dirty old man, with wandering eyes hidden behind dark glasses. From a dirty old man's perspective, believe me, that is a perfect night.
Lady Rachel: Well, I guess you would know more about that perspective than I. I will concede that these school girls do spend a lot of time in the Merton Library that night, although their studies focus primarily on the opposite sex. While Catholic School Girl Night would, in fact, be impossible without its key component--the school girls--there are other social events that are enhanced by the female membership. I mean, Monsieur Tricoleur, what are your feelings on an all-male lock-in?
Prince Eric: I must agree that the entire premise of a lock-in assumes a co-ed membership. What a fantastic idea, inviting the whole club to spend the night while indulging in ample libations?
Lady Rachel: This creates a sharp contrast to former lockins, where imported women were sequestered on the third floor of Cottage Club.
Prince Eric: Today's beauties are more likely to pass out in an arm chair, and need only be returned to their dorm room, rather than to a neighboring school.
Lady Rachel: I'm glad you appreciate the convenience of returning your drunken dates! But in all seriousness, women have improved every aspect of Cottage Club life--we look nice, smell good, eat less, and take up less space behind the tap. Furthermore, coeducation has eliminated the need for antiquated rules governing visitation, which must have been a nightmare to maneuver....
Prince Eric: Yes, but in doing so, it has lessened the need for the Nooner. Yes, the Nooner....the carefully executed, midday romantic visit, so as to avoid early evening curfews.
Lady Rachel: Your nostalgia is touching, Monsieur la Marseillaise. But, I would say that for most, there is now an increased chance of getting lucky around the clock. However, I can see how a midday visit might go unnoticed, whereas the now more frequent early morning walk-home receives much unwanted attention.
Prince Eric: You must be referring to the humiliation of the "Walk of Shame," O Roller of Choice Cheroots. This elicits hoots and hollers from those walking to breakfast who confront the unfortunate soul still stuck in the prior night's formal wear. I hear it even has been known to cause a scandal in Bohania...
Lady Rachel: Yes, there are new dynamics to college life, both good and bad, but--all in all--Cottage females have been a source of inspiration and wonder for their male classmates.
Prince Eric: I know I've been inspired once or twice by Cottage women--clearly, the best on the Street.
Lady Rachel: As I was saying, just as Princeton, and then Cottage Club, only improved with the introduction of women, I hope the same for the Merton Society. Now, the Merton Society surely will emerge from the stone age to appreciate the humour of the fairer sex.
Prince Eric: Oooh, you win, Lady Rachel, Duchess of Bohania. I guess you girls really have improved my daily life. But all I ask is, please inform the rest of the Club that mastery of the Nooner is the mark of a well-rounded education....