Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why I Love Wolf T-shirts? *Part 1 of 3*

The story of my love for wolf t's doesn't have the most beautiful of beginnings. But it is a story that must be told nonetheless. I was in my 4th year of college and about to graduate. I was finishing up a distinguished majors program, I was in a fraternity, I was finishing up my term in student government, I was an RA, I gave tours to high school students interested in coming to my University. I even had post college plans. I was on my way out to South Dakota to become a teacher through the Teach For America program. I had it all. At least I thought I did. I thought I would be remembered for all of the great and wonderful things that I did. My intellectual capability in the classroom, serving as President of the student body. I thought people would remember my moving speeches, my cunning wit, my athletic prowess on the intramural frisbee field. 3-time fraternity champion. Never lost a game. Well, there was that one. But they cheated and played with club frisbee players, a clear violation of athletic policy.

I was wrong about why I would be remembered. The worst part was that I didn't realize that I was wrong until my last days of college. I wasn't remembered for anything I'd done, anything I accomplished. Instead, I was remembered for what I ignored for that part of me that I denied. That part of me that others saw as inherent.

I remember the moment vividly. We were having a barbeque at McIntire Park with my fraternity. It was a send off. We would gather with one another and enjoy one last meal before sending the 4th years out into the world. We would laugh and recall stories of one another. At one point, the Brotherhood Chair would get up and read a list of superlatives. There was a broad range of categories:

Most athletic: (clearly should have been me)

Best sense of humor: (not me)

Most likely not to have done laundry: (definitely not me)

Best dressed: (not me)

Worst dressed: (obviously not me)

Most respected: (not me)

Strongest with the force: (surprisingly not me)

As you can see, I won none of these. Not even the bad ones. The only superlative that I won was a write-in. I suppose I should have seen this coming. The year before the only thing that I won was 'Most Likely to Wear Jorts'

My 'jorts victory' was accompanied by nothing more than jeers and a cut off pair of tight pants. Mind you that this was in 2007, so tight pants were not yet cool. But I digress, I should have seen the write-in coming. The jorts from the previous years, the jokes my friends had been making up during the preceding months. They were all signs for what was to come. My friends always 'kidded' that I loved wearing American flag t-shirts. Anything from GAP, or the Great American Public as they called it. T-shirts with American Flags. Fireworks. Wearing socks with sandals. Cargo shorts. These were the things they said defined me. I always pushed back. Tried to fit in. I'd make sure to buy pants with pleats. Not just 1 pleat, but sometimes 2 or even 3. I made sure that at least some of my shirts garnered the cherished 'Man playing Polo on a Horse' or 'Alligator'. That would show 'em.

Either way, I should tell you of the 'write-in' superlative. The only one that I won was 'MOST LIKELY TO WEAR A WOLF T-SHIRT.' Riddikulus. My friend was instantly turned into an awkward version of Professor Snape wearing jorts and an American flag wolf t-shirt.

After he morphed back into his normal body form. I was met with most sincere set of laughs I have ever heard. It's like everyone actually believed that I was the Most Likely to Wear a Wolf T-shirt.

I followed my usual 3 steps:
(1) Admit nothing.
(2) Deny everything.
(3) Immediately start making counter accusations.

"Me. I don't wear wolf t-shirts. I wouldn't be caught dead with that furry little creature on a shirt of mine. Please. All of my shirts have collars, and starched collars at that. You're the one who is most likely to wear a wolf t-shirt. I've seen the clothes your mother buys you. 'I recycle.' 'Save the whales.' You're the one that sounds like a tree hugger. I'd be more likely to go out and kill a wolf. Yeah, eat this nature!"

My denials only brought more laughter. It's like struggling in quick sand, as all 'cool and tough' guys can relate, the harder you fight the more that it sucks you in. The harder I tried to deny my 'superlative' the more they laughed and argued that it was an inevitable part of my life, my being. I did the only thing that I could do. I left Virginia and drove west. I drove over 1,500 miles away. Passing through West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and finally stopping in South Dakota. Each state was like lifting a weight off of my shoulders. Taking away those laughs and the thoughts of wolves on t-shirt. I spent two years in South Dakota as a teacher. Two years away from my friends. Two years away from my family. I'd forgotten that wolf t-shirts existed. I thought that I was free...

-One Man. One Moon.

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