By David Gales

MCNALLY’S GENERAL STORE – This week, students and townsfolk alike noticed a strange stocking issue: the olives are all gone. A quick drive to Walmart, Fairway, and Hy-Vee will confirm that this is not a McNally’s-centric problem. All over Grinnell, the olives have mysteriously disappeared. “It’s like they’ve been swallowed up by some kind of olive-loving monster,” Herrick Harrick, general manager of Grinnell Fairway Supercenter, said in an interview. “All the suppliers are out of stock, too. It’s truly bizarre.” 

Over the past week, the state has been swept by an olive shortage, and grocers and restaurants alike are struggling to keep up with the demand. Soon enough, people began to ask questions, and as Grinnell’s bastion of journalistic integrity, the B&S launched a comprehensive investigation into the matter. So, sit back, relax, lean forward in anticipation, and join me as I go undercover to get to the bottom of the most devastating supply chain crisis the state of Iowa has ever seen.  

The paper trail was not hard to follow, at the beginning. It was clear that the grocers were being cut off from their suppliers by someone who was able to get there first–someone who had powerful friends, insider knowledge, or a meticulous plan. Stranger still, the shipping manifests indicated that all of the olives were being bought up by a local client on the Grinnell campus. 

 My next lead came in the form of an anonymous tip from Anna Lipari ‘23, who reported that their next door neighbors’ dorm was beginning to smell suspiciously like brine: “I wake up and I am greeted by the stench of a thousand whales taking a thousand dumps in a thousand oceans,” Lipari anonymously contributed, “and I’m really starting to wonder if I need to leave Cowles for good.” After checking up on my anonymous source’s neighbors (and reassuring Lipari that their name would be kept out of this article), I confirmed for myself that the distinct scent of olives wafted through the hallway. Vinegar stained the carpet beneath the door, which was labeled as “Steven” and “Thalia’s” double. 

The Steven and Thalia in question are Steven Steffano ‘23 and Thalia Tallee ‘23, who declined my requests for an interview. I wasn’t about to give up, though. I was going to get to the bottom of this, and I was willing to stake my Pulitzer on it. I reached out to as many of Tallee and Steffano’s classmates as I could, did some sleuthing on social media, and eventually managed to track down Joseph Paxton ‘24, a close friend of Tallee and Steffano who agreed to an interview after the eighteenth letter I sent requesting one. “Oh! Thalia and Steven are great, I love those guys,” Paxton said. “They’re really invested in preserving the institutional memory of Grinnell, I respect the hell out of it. They’ve even revived the Order of Olives, isn’t that cool?” 

After some archival research, I uncovered an article dating back to 1923 that mentioned an Order of Olives on campus. Apparently, a similar olive shortage was chronicled by the B&S in that very year, and was attributed to the “harrowing acts of the heretical sex cult known as the Order of Olives.” I knew this was serious, because the article’s author said that she was willing to stake her Pulitzer on getting to the bottom of it. Apparently, the Order disappeared under mysterious circumstances after something the B&S article described as “a sex party of nearly mythological proportions.” Shortly after, the olive shortage ended. 

When pushed on the Order, Paxton replied, “oh, did you want to join? We’re looking for new members! We’ve finally got enough olives to start the Olea Orgy, but we need one more person for it.” As a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, I know an opportunity when I see one. This was the only chance I was going to have to get inside of the reclusive Order and find out where all of the olives in the state of Iowa had gone. 

I said yes, and Paxton immediately pulled a grain sack over my head, realized he had forgotten the chloroform, took the sack off of my head, held a rag dosed with chloroform to my mouth, and presumably put the grain sack back on after I passed out, as it was on my head when I woke up tied to a chair.

I noticed two things immediately: one, that my limbs were restrained. Two: I was completely naked, and kind of into it. I could hear hushed voices talking nearby, and felt a waft of warm air against my legs, thanking my lucky stars that I chose not to shave my legs so that I could feel the direction of the breeze in situations just like this. Most of all, though, the smell of olives permeated everything. 

Just as I was beginning to wonder if I was about to Pavlov myself into getting an olive fetish, the grain sack was yanked from my head, and I came face to face with Thalia and Steven themselves. Or at least, I assume that’s who they were. They were dressed in olive-green robes, and the hoods were pulled down over their faces, which were wreathed in shadow. The only light in the room came from olive-oil lanterns which burned in a circle around us, which illuminated the floor, which was covered in mounds upon mounds upon mounds of olives of all shapes and colors. Thalia and Steven’s robes were, of course, untied, and hanging open. The two were not wearing anything else. 

As I adjusted to my surroundings and attempted to get my bearings, I realized that I was surrounded on all sides by similarly hooded figures, five of them, to be exact. There were a total of eight of us in the room. The ropes around my hands and feet were cut while I was still looking wildly around, and the one that must have been Thalia handed me my own robe, which I donned without hesitation. If this was what it took to get to the bottom of this mystery, I was willing to do it.  

“The Olea will begin now,” the one that must have been Steven stated, taking firm hold of me and pulling me into the most passionate kiss I have ever experienced. Fireworks exploded before my eyes, sparks flew, and my lips felt like they were melting into a sea of rich, green pitted fruit. I felt my body reacting to his touch, and before I knew what I was doing, I was kissing him back, pulling at him, tugging, wanting, no, needing more. Other hands began to run over my bare skin, the sensations blending together into one blissful, lustful feeling of carnal desire and unity. 

I was dimly aware of the need to keep my head in the game, but that soon gave way to pleasure the likes of which I cannot begin to describe. A tingling warmth began to spread across my body, starting in my mouth and throat and moving downwards to my loins, filling me with vigor and need. I gave way to the tidal wave of tactile experience, letting the rest of the Order carry me through one shuddering climax after another. I knew, deep down, that our experiences were one; I knew that they felt just as I did, and that everything I gave, I received in kind. 

After the first hour, much of the Olea was a blur. Bodies twisted, hands pushed, people pulled, and eight became a ceaseless One, united in our pleasure. I could no longer tell which moans were my own and which came from those I locked lips with, or whether my fingernails were digging into the nearest person or vice versa.  

I had never felt more at home, more at peace, more blissful than I did in the seventy-two hours we spent on the floor of that room together. We did not even need to stop to drink, for we were nourished by the sweat and fluids of each other, and by the abundance of olives that our supple, nude bodies writhed upon, coated by their natural, delicious oils and fueled by their fruitful bounty. 

 I do remember, though, around the seventy-hour mark, as Steven gently caressed the side of my face, Thalia spooning olive after green olive into my gaping, needy mouth, that things started to really click for me. I was getting close, not to orgasm, but to the truth. All I needed was a little more time, a few more olives, another day in the Order’s chamber.  

But alas, all good things must come to an end. Eventually, the olives ran out, and the Olea was concluded. Contrary to what I anticipated, there was no climactic finale or ritualistic conclusion. Thalia and Steven simply began to get dressed, saying that their “duty has been fulfilled” and that they were “off to Oberlin in the morning to spread the word of the Order.” Neither has been seen since. Joseph Paxton has declined further requests for comment.  

The olive shortage is expected to end soon, although the Order is not dissolved. Indeed, we are looking for two new members. Please email me at [oliveorgy] if you know someone who might be interested. Our stockpile may be depleted, but with time, we will rise again. Just you wait. 

Anyway, I lost my Pulitzer. 

 This article was inspired by true events. Is this part satire too? Who’s to say, really?