Now that you have seen graduate students, I give you something else. Driving down the streets of West Philadelphia, through campus, you may see a tall wall with windows and gargoyles. This wall is here for your own protection.
On the other side, in this cloistered space, is where the other side lives…
I recall the scout camps of my youth as carefree and fun filled. Then I went back to scout camp as a scoutmaster and all the fun was gone, replaced with the responsibility of trying to keep a bunch of kids, intent on killing themselves and each other, from dying.
This weekend was sort of the same thing.
I was the guy wearing headphones and a two-way radio walking around next to the 6’4″ cop. My role was to convince uncooperative and intoxicated youth to comply before my companion was required to “take action.”
And then, of course…
At this point I should probably disclose that I am wearing seersucker pants myself as I write this.
=== Though the following conversation is real, none of the people pictured are the perpetrators===
Student A) “My mom is really into genealogy. She has traced us all the way back to the royal family in England…Why didn’t they just stay so I could be the next Prince of England?”
“I see a declining importance in my family history. We go from royalty in England, to founding a state, to living in a suburb of Maryland.”
Student B) “I think you just need to do something bigger or more important than others.”
Student A) “I just think we should have held on to it. I should be like the emperor of Connecticut.”
I was raised in away and in a place where clothing definitely mattered but it was in an oxymoronic sort of way. One could not care or place too high a value on attire, this was materialistic and vain, but what one wears was also key in knowing who one is. Perhaps it was a sartorial version of being selfless, or conformist, which is the same thing in some ways.
“People who don’t know you, will treat you according to how you look”, my Father told me. “There is no way I’m paying $20 for a pair of jeans”, was my Mother’s lesson. My peers taught me what was cool, not why, but what. My budget taught me I was not.
I’m older now, a full fledged grown-up. I’ve travelled a bit and learned a little. The peers of my youth are not around to ask me who I’m trying to fool when I wear a tie. Dad can’t make me tuck in my shirt.
One thing I like about where I live is I can wear what I want. No one tells me what is cool; I’m too old to care. Shopping is still a compromise between desires and dollars and I know even better that people will decide who I am by what they see, but for the most part, clothes are like sports, dogs, hiking, science fiction, or card games.