My favorite thing in the whole world is seeing a Jumbo someplace random. There is literally nothing better than trekking my tired butt through airport security at 5:30 in the morning and spotting a brown and blue t-shirt in line for the Dunkin Donuts by Terminal B. Wait, yes there is: driving my rental car through Nowhere, USA (just north of Where-Am-I and west of I-Think-I’ve-Seen-that-Cow-Before) and getting caught in traffic behind a sedan proudly fashioning a tasteful Tufts bumper sticker. My sister does a wonderful (albeit over-acted) impression of my double-take as I spot a Tufts sweatshirt bobbing toward me on the beach during a family vacation.
Why is the sight of a Tufts bookstore purchase so thrilling to me? Sure, part of it is because I know if I approach the t-shirt (and more specifically the person inside it) I will probably be allowed to join the Dunkin Donuts line near the front, have one of those fun in-traffic convos from open window to open window that always settle my Masshole rage a bit, or be asked to play a game of ladder golf with the group a few towels down the sand. That’s who Tufts people are; they’re inviters. But that can’t be the sole reason, because sometimes I don’t even approach the owner of the tee. Sometimes I just smile really broadly and creepily in a way that makes them think I’m either hitting on them or about to charge at them with a shank I fashioned out of an old nail file. So what is it? Why do I love it so much?
I’ve given the issue a lot of thought, and here’s what I’ve come up with: the tee indicates a kind of family and camaraderie that reminds me that the world is much smaller than I think, and that the reach of Tufts is much larger than I think. There’s a uniting power in the Tufts tee. Every individual Jumbo chose to come to Tufts for different reasons, but now we choose to sport brown and blue for the same reason, and that’s pretty neat. When I see the tee, I know that you know why Tufts is such a cool place (but do you know that I know that you know? Gotta love Friends references.) I know that you know what I mean when I say I’m going to Dewick it. I know that if I were to sing “T-U-F-T-S, T-U-F-T-S”, you would chime in with “Hoorah! Hoorah!” (You know, if we weren’t in the middle of a crowded airport and I weren’t still smiling creepily at you.) I’m sure some therapists might tell me I have yet to get over some middle-school obsession with the in-crowd, but I would retort that they’ve never experienced the power of the tee.
I recently learned that I am not alone in this euphoric feeling that accompanies a Tufts apparel sighting. You hear stories all the time. The other day my roommate was on her way home, sporting her favorite Tufts Dad shirt (don’t ask), when she was approached by an older woman who lives on our block. Turns out the woman graduated from Tufts in 1955. She spoke to my roommate for 45 minutes before entering her home, and now they enthusiastically greet each other every time they meet. Clearly this woman felt it too. Clearly she understands me and my reaction to the tee. It’s the article of clothing that makes our Jumbo hearts flutter and our Tuftonia levels rise (yes, I’m totally aware that it now sounds like a hormone, but it’s all I got right now).
The point is, nothing makes me happier than a fellow Tufts enthusiast. So if you’re out for a run in your Tufts tee, I feel I’ve given you fair warning. I now reserve the right to run after you, flailing my arms and yelling “Go Jumbos!” loudly enough to drown out the Carly Rae Jepsen playing on your iPod (I know that’s what you’re listening to). And you better stop and talk to me until there is no longer anything Tufts-related to talk about (I give it years, hope you went to the bathroom before you left the house). If you don’t, I risk losing faith in Tufts students and alumni everywhere. Trust me, you don’t want to be that person; it hasn’t happened yet.