Thursday, December 4, 2008

comfortably college

Sitting in the middle of our mostly conservative, largely evangelical city is a small, private, liberal arts college. One of my current tutor students goes to school there, and we have our tutor sessions at the campus library.

I was there yesterday when he called and said he was running a few minutes late. No problem, I would just wait for him inside the library doors. I picked out a comfy chair and began observing the comings and goings of these rather boheme students.

As with first impressions upon meeting another person, I was first struck by the appearance of these kids. They all, particularly the males, had a rather disheveled rather homeless style to them. Hair, relatively long and unkempt - many with knit hats ala thrift store sitting atop. Shaving is probably not a daily activity - more like weekly if with any regularity.

As I continued my surveillance, I couldn't help but feel the comfortableness that each of these students seemed to be emitting. Yes, they were dressed and coiffed in a very relaxed way, but there just seemed to be this overall atmosphere of grungease.

I found it quite refreshing and relaxing sitting there. Being the private college that it is, the tuition is not cheap and I know that many of the students come from rather affluent families, but I detected no sign of pretention among them, with their genuine friendliness and I-sleep-under-a-bridge fashion statements.

I actually felt a bit overdressed and overcombed as I sat among them, but if I were to grunge things up to help close that gap, I would violate my company's dress code.

After about 10 minutes, my student entered. His familiar, fully-bearded smile as he walked up wearing a nondescript hoodie and similarly generic baseball cap atop his rat's nest of a hairdo, caused me to smile too, in recognition of just how well he fit in. I wondered if he'd just awoken from a nap...

... from under a bridge.


Duble said...

is your student going to ask you to roast a bowl with him?

Duble said...

also why do you pick all the really religious, conservative towns to live in, i think you like it.

Beej said...

I lived under a bridge once. It sucked.

Oh man, that was a lie. I mean the part about living under a bridge. The sucking part would probably be true if the first part had been true. Um...never mind.

Judy said...

Move that about two to three states over to the East and a bit south, and you'd have my alma mater!

brandy101 said...

I think many colleges are like that. I know I dressed kinda grungy, but in part because I had to walk or ride my bike everywhere, carting a big backpack of books. Plus, college kids have to do (and pay for) their own laundry, and if I recall correctly, it does not get done very often!

Freak Magnet said...

I've seen that same look here in Washington. I always have to shake my head a little when I see those knit caps (a la homeless) on the kids in the dead of Summer. That's got to be HOT, but they wear them anyway - just to maintain their "I sleep under a bridge" look. LOL It's kind of like visiting another world, huh? ;)

terri said...

Yes it all sounds very familiar. My son came home for Thanksgiving sporting some strategically manicured facial hair. Drove his dad crazy, so you can bet it won't get shaved off any time soon.

Anonymous said...

My theory:

These kids came from affluence -- collared shirts, European sports sedans, 3-car garages, granite countertops on a cul de sac. I.e. The American Dream -- as given to them by hard-working, well-meaning, climb-the-company-ladder-at-the-expense-of-the-family parents.

"Homelessness" is their rebellion.

Beej said...

I actually think it's just the style for now. Even my 14 year old son wears a beanie when he can get away with it. It's cool big bows were cool on the heads of the valley girls in the 80s. You don't see many bowheads anymore.