April 17, 2004: MSU student ghetto
I live in the student ghetto of Michigan State, and the favorite activity of everybody who lives here is to sit on their porch and yell at passersby in a very confrontational way. For example, if you are so bold as to ride your bicycle to class, you will hear people shout such ringers as “Yeah, bicycle!” or “Look at that bike!” or simply “Bicycle!” They do not say these things in an uplifting way–they seem genuinely angry, as if they’ve recently lost a loved one who enjoyed riding a bike. They are also critical of the following things:
* Wearing a backpack after 10pm on weeknights or 8pm on weekends.
* Wearing a jacket when it is hypothetically warm enough to not wear a jacket.
* Wearing a hat.
* Failure to wear a hat.
* Girls who are walking anywhere at anytime by themselves.
* Walking around at night on the weekends, either in a group or alone, in any gender combination, going in any direction.
When they are not critical, people are incoherent. Last night I overheard the following exchange between somebody driving by in a car and somebody climbing a tree in their front yard (I swear to Christ I’m not making this up):
Man in car: “Sorry, he’s Asian!” [nobody in the vicinity was Asian]
Man climbing tree: “I’m in a tree!”
I used to carefully orchestrate my choice of transportation and the company I walked with based on the potential of those stimuli provoking somebody to yell at me, but recently I’ve decided to give that all up. Last week I openly scootered to class, and it absolutely blew peoples’ fucking minds. Next week I’m going to scooter to class wearing a University of Michigan t-shirt and a pair of suspenders, because I can’t stand the pressure of people in this neighborhood, so screw them.