Let the Berkeley in, people. Say “hello” to it, make it a nice appletini with a raspberry twist, write it mushy love letters, play “All You Need Is Love” on the Campanile’s bells for it, rub Kraft Mac and Cheese all over it and give it a nice juicy smooch. Don’t resist it, don’t be all like, “Oh hellz to the no, I ain’t into those concrete, inanimate, city types,” and instead play “All You Need Is Love” for one of those gross, disgusting, absolutely appallingly hairy humans who will probably ask you who Paul McCartney is. Berkeley knows! He discovered Berkelium in 1977, and every tour guide won’t let you forget it! Berkeley is sexy, Berkeley is intellectual, Berkeley is alluring, artsy, scrumptious and open-minded about having cheesy noodles rubbed on it. What is not to love?
Now, this is all figurative, of course. Don’t actually give it a smooch — I wouldn’t want to be the cause of you contracting type 2 diabetes by playing some tonsil hockey with the benches outside Dwinelle Hall. Don’t actually wear a glorious Cal sweatshirt that shows off your curves and get in a faux argument with someone on Sproul Plaza about the unfair treatment of baby broccolis in Indonesia in an attempt to impress Berkeley by being an over-righteous zealot. Don’t actually play the Beatles to woo Berkeley either, because everyone knows that its favorite musician is the All-American Rejects, and it doesn’t give a frick about anything or anyone else. Jesus, it’s all figurative, don’t do that, calm down.
What I mean is you should accept, embrace and embody all the craytown shenanigans that make Berkeley the “looniest of all looney bins that is filled to the brim with devout followers of that communist Barack Hussein Obama” (or at least that’s how the receptionist at my dentist office back at home refers to it). The sooner you embrace Berkeley’s weirdness and its quirks, the better off you will be. Let it in and love it.
All the things that outsiders — particularly concerned parents of seniors in high school who expressed interest in this crazy university — find to be weird or ridiculous about Berkeley are all the things that make Berkeley charming to me. Yes, a homeless person may have just taken a poop on a pet iguana named Buladingo on Telegraph Avenue — I love it! Yes, there is a man who performs some strange fusion between karate and interpretative dance in the foyer of Wheeler Hall — it’s amazing! Yes, while making plans with friends, we have to clarify which time system we’re using — the one for all the commoners in the world or the one for the Berkeley gods and goddesses that shifts everything by 10 minutes. Once you accept all this strangeness with open arms, you notice how it all helps create the incredible character that pervades every inch of this place.
In the past, I never really thought of myself as a typical “Berkeley kid.” I showered, for one. I also thought Mary Jane was the name of a nice brand of steak that is best served smoked and not a slang word for an illegal drug that should be banished straight to the fiery gates of Hades — in your face, co-op people! But, recently, I was hanging with my brobie from high school and we were talking about how people have changed in the past four years. Oh yeah, this person is now a fortune teller on the boardwalk of Venice Beach, and that person somehow had a foursome with Pop Rocks and a lemur. You know, the typical high school-gone-college gossip. I asked him how I’ve changed and he responded: “Well, you’re still just as scrumptulescent, but maybe you’ve become a bit more Berkeley.”
I realized that he is right. After several years of this place, I have noticed that my friends and I have all become a bit of a product of our environment. For example, the tightness of my jeans has had a direct correlation with how long I have been at Berkeley. And I mean “tight” in both the way they fit and also the way a 13-year-old white dude with a swooped-up-wave-type gel job would describe the new Kendrick Lamar album: “Those beats are tight, fam!”
Honestly, I wish Berkeley didn’t play so hard-to-get sometimes and that I was able to be a little Berkeley kid sooner, because being a “Berkeley kid” is one of the best kinds of kids you could be, despite what any dental receptionist or anyone else who doesn’t “get it” says. We’re “with it,” we’re hip on the lingo and the threads and sneakies, we’re socially conscious, we’re ambitious, we’re profound little wallops of whipped cream and we’re professionals at executing exquisite mic drops during pseudo-intellectual conversations while in the nude. We are weirdly awesome.
Once your old friend looks at you and declares you to be peculiarly more Berkeley, you are justified — by the power invested in me — to dance your little heart out, because that means you’ve become a cool cat with some mad brains and awareness. You’ve made it! And don’t forget to be blatantly liberal while doing this jig. Move your body in a way that signals to people that 1) you don’t give a flying squirrel in Guatemala who is watching you because you are a free spirit and 2) you must think that guns are bad and that this patriarchal, cis-society has just got to go based on the way you are performing that show-stopping stanky leg.
Taran Moriates writes the Monday column on the dos and don’ts of college. Contact him at [email protected].