Over the past four days, I’ve received probably twelve emails pointing me to a “blog” called “Sushi With My Girls.” Add to that countless Facebook postings, GChat status messages and tweets also proclaiming, “Too true!” and “OMG – this so spot on!” The blog is actually not so much a blog, but really just a single post – a list – outlining the over-the-top stereotypical hobbies and traits of a certain kind of affluent, vain, party-hard girl from a wealthy suburb who is the product of a “UPenn, Cornell, Emory, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, BU, Wash U, Syracuse, GW, Arizona, or Maryland” diploma. The post describes said girl’s preferences – sartorially (#6. Sweatpants with writing on the ass), romantically (#39. Slumming in college meant an extended period sleeping with a lacrosse player. But that is so DUNZO. Now it is strictly older guys who can afford the best sushi), gastronomically (#50. Spicy Tuna roll-no rice- (Calories, YUCK!), ginger salad and a vodka soda… I’m full!), and even professionally (#90. Private equity. Not sure what it is, but I so want to date a guy who does it!).
The stereotype is not revolutionary, but if you happen to have attended or know people who attended one of the schools named above (I happen to be finishing up my time at the first one on the list), or if you’ve had the fortune of finding yourself in certain post-collegiate urban neighborhoods, the characterization rings true, and sure, it might make you giggle. If not, don’t worry, and just hang in here, because girls who order vodka sodas and date investment bankers are not really my point at all.
What strikes me most in my Internet interaction with this whole Sushi site is not the fact that someone sat down to make this list of characteristics of a college-rooted stereotype (we’ve all done that a million times) – it’s who’s taken the time to pass it on. Most of them fit into a whole bunch of the categories listed. (Though begrudgingly, I’ll admit there are worse things in the world than a vodka soda, some spicy tuna, and a man with an MBA). Though they’re part scoffing at the characterization, they’re also reveling in how aptly it describes parts of a character they know quite well.
Because college, and people right out of college love stereotypes. Especially, and almost exclusively, they love stereotypes about themselves and people they know. Yesterday, Drew called the site, “an in-joke between friends commenting on a common collegiate archetype.” More or less, yeah, exactly.
During my first semester as a freshman, a sophomore whom I thought very wise at the time leaned over her (yes) vodka soda in its clear plastic cup, swirled the thin red straw, and somewhat drunkenly proclaimed to me, “College is really the best, because it’s sort of a microcosm of the real world.” Ooooh, yeah, I thought, as we sat in the vaguely Southwestern-themed bar that only pretended to scan fake ID’s – and for whatever reason, this microcosm idea seemed to give us free reign to make sweeping stereotypes about those around us. “What do you think of the girls from Long Island?” she asked. “Really nice,” I said. “But always talking about nail polish colors and pocket books.”
It continued for some time in its self-aware, vapid political incorrectness :
“The boarding school guys always ironically wear neon colors.”
“Yeah, and they have taxidermy on the walls of their frat.”
And so on.
Of course, college isn’t really a microcosm of the real world, even at all. Everyone has the same joke of a schedule, everyone lives in the same neighborhood, and most people tend to take their food and drink in the same pizza places, dining halls and local pubs n’ clubs. But at a university of considerable size, Mean Girls-esque jock/nerd/bitchy Asian stereotypes tend not to hold up. Something else will have to do.
So, college stereotypes? I think they’re stuck at a crossroads: having grown out of the high school cafeteria model, but also not ready for the grown-up, real-world divisions, those that couldn’t begin to be articulated in the confines of a blog post. And it’s sickeningly fun to dissect these stereotypes. It’s almost an addiction, placing ourselves and others into compartments, as we try to mockingly define who we are, what we belong to, and eventually…coming to terms with it and being okay with it.
La di da di da…
WAIT. Did I just write that? “Coming to terms with it.” ?!?!? Stop. I lied. I spoke in euphemism at best. Forgive me. The truth is, the only thing college and recent post-college people love more than themselves is talking about themselves. And making inside jokes that they think the whole world, but not really the whole world, understands. They like to think that college is a microcosm of the whole world – that sushi girls are a real demographic, and that there should be a blog about them, outside of the University of Wisconsin.
My phone just rang – it’s my now perhaps closest friend, who happens to be the particular girl from Long Island I three years ago told the sophomore about, the one who memorized the names of nail polish colors. After discussion of some more pressing topics, we diverge. “Did you see that sushi girls thing?” she asks.
“Yeah, I’m actually just in the midst of writing something, I don’t really know what, about it.”
“It’s pretty dumb,” she says. “But it sort of makes me never want to order a vodka soda again.”