The Light at the End of the Tunnel

by Tom Mandel | 4/7/11 10:00pm

My mom was really happy to see me pack up all my bequests. Which is understandable. For the past two years, I've come home in June with a trash bag full of what appears to her (and the rest of the world) to be the most ugly and disgusting clothing imaginable. They have paint splotches on them. There are other dudes' names written in them. A lot of them don't have sleeves. Some have vulgar jokes written on them. When I'm home, my mom won't let me out of the house with any bequests on. I get that.

But this is the biggest case of one man's trash being another man's treasure. In fact, the worse the bequest looks in the eyes of the world, the better it looks in my eyes. No sleeves? Great. There are 10 dudes' names written on it? I wish there were 15. Hasn't been washed since the Clinton administration? Perfect.

It's hard to describe the system of honor and respect that goes along with fraternity bequests. As a senior, you take the legacy that was handed to you, add to it the entire legacy you've created around your own life and then hand it all down in slivers to the two classes below you. Which underclassman deserves to wear which portion of my college identity? When somebody bequests you something meaningful, it really is an honor.

I've seen some really meaningful things bequested. Sometimes they are literally a senior's most cherished possession. Two years ago, a senior bequested a hat that had been given to him by his best friend back home right before that friend suddenly passed away. He wore that hat every day. Now whenever its current owner wears it around, everyone notes the mark of mutual respect the respect of the senior for the underclassman to whom he handed it off, and respect of the wearer for the hat's initial owner.

Now I'm looking around my room, seeing bequests that were given to me and bequests that I'm going to start, and wondering to whom I should pass different parts of my identity. What will my wardrobe look like without all these clothes? Can I really part ways with all of these things that have helped define me for so long? I guess I have to.

In the real world, I can't wear that totally sweet sleeveless shirt with a sick lineage to work. I probably can't even wear it on the weekends. And that sucks. I understand that I have to grow up, but does my wardrobe have to grow up, too? The only things that I'm going to be left with are clothes that are either too nice or too boring to bequest. Bummer.

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL is that I'm going to wage quiet rebellion against the real world with my clothing choices. It's chilly, so I have to wear an undershirt under my button-down? Fine, but I'm not going to wear a white T-shirt underneath. I'm going to wear a tank.