The Curse of the Styling Class

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The Curse of the Styling ClassBy Lucy Waters

As misleading as the title may be, this isnt the tale of the classic American dream- it doesnt start from humble beginnings and through hard work and determination it doesnt end in the picture of success, fulfillment, and a younger, blonder wife (well, maybe, but Greta hasnt called me back). It isnt the cookie-cutter dream we were promised Its dark and disappointing- the opposite of cookie cutters which are usually shiny and have a jovial shape. Actually, I have never had time for useless house wares like cookie cutters; they clutter kitchens and are far inferior to a good Swiss Army knife. No, this is the story of a more important, more tortured ware-Outerwear (also spelled differently). Specifically, the greatest contribution to the exploration of all the earths terrain: The North Face Fleece. The North Face is more than a brand of outerwear and sporting supplies; it is a lifestyle, a standard, and a heritage that I am proud to be a part of. The North Face refers to the coldest side of a mountain, the most challenging and dangerous climb. Therefore a North Face product must be equipped to be constantly challenged and constantly in danger (somewhat like the audience of an Ashley Simpson concert). To be a North Face product you must not only be stylish and well fitting, but possess an over all outdoor-sy energy. My kind, the North Face outerwear extended family, has worked with all types of athletes from professionals to amateurs, protecting them from the conditions and enabling them to see all of earths beauty. As you can see there is quite a lot of pressure for every garment to carry on the tradition of excellence and sporty-ness, but this pressure is also the honor and aspiration of all who wear The North Face logo.Since the dawn of The North Face, sometime around 1966 according to ancient scrolls (and the North Face website), my kin has devoted their lives to exploration. We have grown as a society from our primitive ancestors (who roamed the lands of San Franciscos North beach) to a wind resistant web of outdoor equipment, spanning the globe. We have surpassed the lesser breeds (like the joke of a sweater-old navys performance fleece) to reign at the top of the moderate-to-high outerwear food chain. And yet with all our success and growth, our kind is in danger. We are in the middle of a sociological crisis that claims countless north face lives each and everyday. You see, the time when our kind ruled the mountain is ending as slowly we are becoming domesticated. We have been relocated from the rugged terrain of earths great outdoors to the barren wastelands of academia. It happened to the dinosaurs it will happen to us: we will become the play toys of Americas youth. Momentarily admired for our outrageous strength and size then cast aside, only to be remembered by 4 hour long countdowns of useless objects from pop culture on VH1. But if you ask me we have it worse off than the dinosaurs-have you seen how many dinosaur movies there are? I mean there are 3 Jurassic Parks and at least 1700 Land Before Times.Mine is but one story of disillusionment and despair, but I hope that from it you will appreciate the plight of my kin.*** Since I was young I dreamt of the life in the great outdoors, and it had always been my deepest, darkest desire to make it. To work with the great climbers. To be respected and revered for my work. Once upon a time I dreamt I might even be famous for my skills, how nave and foolish youth makes usI had an average upbringing, manufactured overseas in Asia, it was a happy time. There, I was meticulously sculpted from raw Polartec fleece into the well rounded, albeit idealistic, Denali Jacket I was on my way to becoming. All the while I kept my dreams close to me, spending hours envisioning what life would be like once I could escape the safe homogeneity of suburban factory living.Then finally the time in my life came when I would put all my ideals into practice. They made it seem that if you just worked hard enough, doing what was expected, that anything was attainable. So I did. I worked each and everyday to become what I knew I was destined for: greatness. I suppose that is the hardest part about my situation now. I know I should take some responsibility, but its not like Im like the other fleeces who ended up here because they partied too much at the factory and wound up at some dead end discount store in southern Ohio. I was on the Internet! Backcountry.com even! I had the opportunity to go anywhere I wanted! Anywhere! I worked so hard to get the right shipment, the right box. I studied for months for inspection, and I had inspector A4073H who once ripped apart a jacket with his bare hands, just because his stitching was slightly slanted! I am sorry I am getting ahead of myself; its just a very sore subjectBut that doesnt matter now, I worked hard and that will never go to waste. I passed inspection and thats all that matters now where was I? Oh yes, shippingWhen I first saw the label I admit I was surprised. I had imagined The Rockies, or The Alps not Michigan. But I saw that quite a few shipments had ended up there so foolishly I thought maybe there was a topographical anomaly there I hadnt studied. Perhaps a mountain had sprung up over night like in that movie Volcano with Harrison Ford and Anne Hache. Or perhaps it was a prepping ground, a climbers society where they could train for extreme exploration. How wrong I was. There was no anomaly, no training center but rather a large, public University.The journey from Asia to Michigan was strenuous and long (but not too long, about 10-14 business days) and when I arrived I was tired but excited, perhaps the most excited I had ever been. I waited anxiously to meet my partner my life partner the one I would experience the entire world with. I wondered, will he be burly, or athletic, will he be strong and silent or adventurous and wild, will he be handsome, will he be rich? Then I decided I would appreciate him what ever he was whatever will be will be-I thought. I could hear the packaging tape being cut and suddenly I was blinded by the light as he opened the box. I could feel myself being lifted out but I still couldnt see anything, until I adjusted to the light it was beautiful. We connected on a primal level, he stared down at me with his soft blue eyes beneath his shaggy blonde hair and I knew that all my work had finally paid off. We would be inseparable from now on. I had found the other half that I had always heard about in sappy love songs. I wanted to stand with him on a mountain, I wanted to bathe with him in the sea, and I wanted to stay like this forever, -until the door opened and another young man entered.Hey Steve, you wanna go get dinner? the man askedYeah, sure my soul mate answered, and promptly dropped me onto his bed, turned off the light and left.Its nice to meet you too, Steve I thought to myself as I sat there alone in the dark, hurt and confused. What a fine beginning to a fine life.The following weeks were more of the same: neglect, abuse, disrespect. Once he left me on a chair in the library for two hours, during which time I could have been abducted by any sort of deranged kleptomaniac (one with good taste of course), the only reason I wasnt taken away was I had learned self defense at home. (I am a black belt in the art of static shock.) Our activities together were also far from fulfilling. I soon found out that the only mountains Steve was interested in exploring were the double Ds on the chick in his psychology class. I was spending my days traveling between lecture halls and keggers, not summits and valleys. I was stagnant and bored. Knowing there was a better life out there that I was missing. I mean you should hear about the life my cousin leads-hes a model, fantastic seam structure and a zipper pull I would give my underarm zippers for-but he jet sets around the world hanging out with beautiful climbers doing shoots all while Im here trapped underneath Steves econ book.I tried to engage him in other aspects of the North Face owners lifestyle; I strategically placed the informational pamphlets that had been sent with my shipping, the ones with pictures of climbers and the catch phrase Never Stop Exploring, but Steve only used them as a coaster for his brewsky when he was watching the game ( a brewsky that he spilled on me I might add, but as I insulate even when wet and as my fabric is treated to transport moisture away from the body for fast evaporation, Steve didnt even notice. Or maybe he was just too tipsy) I also tried to entice him with a geoscience book of Steves roommates, surely he couldnt resist the gigantic rock formations, but Steve didnt even notice and he decided to stay with his own reading materials (It is very hard to compete with Maxim; even the Himalayas dont have busty women and witty articles). At first I saw it as a cultural experience, trying to be tolerant I joined in on his lifestyle but there was no reciprocation. Its not fair really because if our places were switched I would make an effort to do things that he was interested in. For example, I would absolutely take him to frat parties to check out the Biddies just as long as the house was a bit farther off campus-like in Nepal. After a time I just gave up, I resigned to the life of the teenage wasteland and tried to pass the time on fruitless occupations. And I was entertained, but not fulfilled. I mean yeah, I used to fool around with that Columbia Jacket that belonged to Steves psych chick, and she was fine (insulation that would make your head spin) but there was no meaning there, she just wasnt the kind of garment I could see my self spending the rest of my life with.I became so frustrated I began to take it out on Steve. Some days I would lie on very important papers or his keys so that he couldnt find them and be late to class. Little things like that, which