January 14, 2004

N.B.: This post is inspired by a recent post on this man’s blog.

In college, I lived in the dorm widely known to be the place where all the pretentious artsy clove-cigarette-smoking fags lived. We enjoyed this reputation and did our best to live up to it. Other dorms had Italian Tables and German Tables at mealtimes for those who wanted to practice speaking those languages; we had, in addition, a wildly popular French Accent Table. One year the theme for our winter formal was the Masque of the Red Death; the next year it was the Seven Deadly Sins. That sort of thing.

The year before I got there, the dorm T-shirts said “[Name of dorm]: We’re all gay and we’re coming to get you.” I live to this day with the regret of having been fool enough not to do everything within my power to obtain one of these.

But my junior year, I attended the dorm committee meeting at which they were going to decide what to put on the new T-shirts. A front runner quickly emerged: “[Name of dorm]: You are who you pretend to be.” Someone suggested that it would really be much snobbier (and therefore better) if the shirts said “We are who we pretend to be.”

I sat listening for a while and then offered what seemed to me to be the obvious choice: “[Name of dorm]: We are who you pretend to be.”

This was greeted with great acclaim and accepted unanimously. Then whoever took the order to the T-shirt place told them to italicize “are” and “pretend” and ruined the whole damn thing.

I still have the shirt, but I can never wear it without a certain bittersweet awareness of the absolute impossibility of perfection.

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11 Responses to N.B.: This post is inspired

  1. Theresa says:

    The ancient Romans had a concept boiled down into one beautiful word:


    “I am what you see in me”

    It helped to govern their lives, and, agreeing with the truth therein, I have taken it to heart (and to screenname).

    Who says a Classics degree is useless?

  2. jeffrey says:

    i was also in the artsy clove smoking fag dorm, you did creative things, i sat around drinking Coors Light and making a wall out of the empty cans, maybe thats why all my fellow fags thougt i was a trashy asshole,
    oh well

  3. matt says:

    I can’t fault your slogan, but I still think “[Name of dorm]: We are not who we pretend to be” would also have had a nice ring to it 🙂

    [Theresa] Thank you: existimatio will forever more be a part of my armoury.

  4. Thom says:

    Whereas my dorm at the same college was at that time still known only by a direction rather than a name. At the northernmost end of the campus, and considered by many to be rather out-of-the-way, its t-shirt bore the following (albeit borrowed) slogan:

    “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”

  5. tim says:

    You need to “Let go, and let God.”

  6. Jalal says:

    I sit with tears in my eyes. Those suggestions … oh wow … those heavenly suggestions.

  7. Wayne says:

    “[Name of dorm]: Mascara, totally Fabulous!”

    Wait, where’s my coffee?

  8. Crash says:

    I was in the same type dorm at a rather conservative college in TN.

    My t-shirt idea (which was chosen and worn proudly) was:

    Homonecropyrobestialiphobia: Fear of [name of dorm].

    And there was a drawing of a dead burning cat.

    In reality, homonecropyrobestialiphobia was, as I imagined it, fear of having sex with a dead burning animal of the same sex as yourself. But it seemed to work for our dorm.

  9. Adam875 says:

    As I get older, I’m discovering that the line between “artsy fag” and “total nerd” is very fine. I think I need to start changing my label for my own college years.

  10. Peter says:

    Hey, I remember those T-shirts. Man, were they obnoxious. I totally loved them.

    You may be sad to learn that [name of dorm] is now a pale shadow of its former fabulous self, although they still do a drag show every year.

  11. Alex says:

    Gosh, I had a somewhat similar solution (except you have to replace “pretentious artsy clove-cigarette-smoking fags” with “socially inept, brainy, monty-python-quoting geeks”.

    I was going to comment about it here, but it got too long so I blogged about it instead.


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