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NO SUBSTITUTE FOR CABLE: Identity Crisis

I’m sure we all remember writing essays in elementary school entitled, “How I Spent My Vacation.” I’m also fairly certain we all remember these essays were usually lame, and no one ever cared about reading them. Well, regardless, in the spirit of these essays, I’ve decided to start this week’s column with some observations I made during Spring Break.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do anything terribly interesting during this past week. Almost everyone else seemed to be traveling around Europe, soaking up sun in the Caribbean or building houses through Alternative Spring Break. I, however, was too poor to even take a week off from work. Thanks for the postcard from Orlando, but Ted Koppel and I shared the same sentiments toward Disney World this past week. Who knew that talking rodents could make me so bitter? Instead of leaving campus, I got a nice tan under the hot lights in the Admissions Office. Every night, I went skinny-dipping in the Charles River. When I visited my sister at school in New Hampshire, I tossed beads at a local woman, but she threw back her dentures.

Even though I was unable to escape New England during my time off, I did manage to go out and have some fun in Boston, which brings me to the real topic of this week’s column: why don’t some people realize how foolish they look when they are in public? I’m not even referring to the hooched-out congregations in front of Warren Towers on a Friday night; they were nowhere to be found last week. The people I’m thinking about are those who go to bars dressed as if they just came from a Def Leppard concert. The absence of the majority of BU’s undergraduate student body left a void last week. It seems the residents of Allston who can vividly remember old-school Michael Jackson stepped up to the plate to fill this void. The 1980s time machine was in full effect.

This question of social awkwardness first struck me when I was out at a bar with some friends last weekend. A guy came in, and our attention immediately focused on his mullet. He was also wearing ripped jeans, complemented by a black, long-sleeved shirt with a white T-shirt over it. Honestly, was it ever cool to dress like this? Frankly, I was disappointed to find this guy’s feet weren’t equipped with blinking lights. The strangest part of this experience was that this character acted as if he were the life of the party. He probably wouldn’t have any problem getting the phone number of any girl with crimped hair and a denim jacket.

As I sat at a table with my friends making jokes about this guy who resembled John Mellencamp before he had his Cougar removed, he seemed to be having a great time with his Brat Pack-wannabe clique. Who knew anyone could have such a great time singing the karaoke version of “Islands in the Stream”?

This conundrum is similar to another issue I have: when people are listening to headphones, what hypnotizes them enough to sing out loud in public? I can completely sympathize with getting really into music. In the privacy of my apartment, I may play air guitar and look out my window, asking Claflin, Sleeper and Rich halls if they’re ready to rock. However, when one is moved enough to sing out loud on Commonwealth Avenue, this just doesn’t look normal to anyone.

However, after writing this discourse, I think I may be developing a newfound respect for people who care so little about how others perceive them as to appear ridiculous to jerks like me.

Now, I’m going to do the same thing I do every time I’ve argued in circles and reached no relevant conclusion — I’m going to end with a question. This strategy seems to work well in English papers. Just a few weeks ago, I ended a paper with the question “In ‘To the Lighthouse,’ is Virginia Woolf writing to bring the reader to a destination, or does she simply want us to enjoy the journey?” and managed to get a B+. My friend who stuck to the archaic, declarative sentence got a B. This proves there’s a lot to be said for ambiguity — or is there?

Anyway, do people who stick out like sore thumbs in public deserve the humiliation they sometimes suffer, or do they deserve admiration for their boldness and individuality? The lessons to be learned from these social outcasts are contingent upon one’s perspective. After ruminating on this, one may resolve not to be as self-conscious about appearances, or one may simply vow to never sport a mullet.

I’ve decided maybe I’ll start to loosen up a little by giving some old-school shout-outs to A-Ha, Josh Corbeil, Billy Idol, Ronald Reagan and Molly Ringwald. Whether this plan works or not, I started saving money today for next year’s Spring Break.

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