Since only a year has elapsed since I, like many of our current prospie visitors, was an overanxious high school senior agonizing over every trifling preparatory detail of my U of C experience, I can attest to the great number of all-purpose, and altogether unhelpful, “things to bring” lists floating around the Internet and U of C literature. Yes, picture frames and storage boxes to slide under my bed sound like very nice things to have, but are they absolutely indispensible? And what of the other stuff—the stuff that only a seasoned undergraduate would know to keep handy? Things so intrinsically ingrained in our culture that, without them, one might as well walk himself into oncoming traffic? In an effort to alleviate all preoccupation, I present to the incoming first-years—and any upperclassmen who have still not caught on—the definitive list of things one should bring to the University of Chicago.First: Jesus sandals. Now, let me be clear. I’m not talking about the chic, leather, strappy sandals you might find strolling down a sandy beach in Mykonos on a balmy afternoon, straight from the Banana Republic summer collection; I’m talking about the heinous cloth and rubber contraptions you find cradling the calluses of most hippies and invalids, bought at the swap meet from a man with no teeth. They are absolute necessities on the U of C campus; no self-respecting TAPS major leaves the dormitory without them.It’s a versatile shoe, appropriate for virtually all ages and occasions, though I find that they’re best paired with ratty old T-shirts with holes and sweat stains, procured for free at local sporting events. (You may also want to invest in a couple of these while you’re at it.) If it’s at all possible to arrive the first day of O-Week wearing your new Jesus-sandal ensemble, go ahead and do it; they’re going to be all the rage this fall quarter—as they are every fall quarter—though perhaps I should warn you: The trend will waver sometime in November, at which point Uggs will become the height of fashion. But don’t you worry. Come sunny spring quarter, you’ll be able to break those babies back out as if not even a day has gone by.Next up: Barack Obama paraphernalia. I tell you, it just never gets old. Though the election is long over, and though the guy took office almost four months ago, it is still absolutely imperative that you express your no-longer-necessary support for Obama’s campaign in the form of a pin on your backpack, a sticker on your laptop, or, perhaps, a tattoo on your ass. Students at the U of C just adore Barack Obama, and they will never let you forget it. Never. So be sure to eBay it up before you return to Hyde Park so as not to accidentally embarrass yourself with a more current political agenda.Cigarettes: Do you remember when it was drilled into your puerile baby brain that smoking was the un-coolest thing you could ever do, even if your peers and elders assured you otherwise? Well, that was a big fat lie. Everyone who’s anyone at the University of Chicago smokes at least three packs a day. In fact, just this last Tuesday, as a testament to the sheer awesomeness of the cigarette, the Maroon printed an illuminating column called “The Case for Smoking.”I know the fact of this phenomenon may have a few of you reeling with surprise. Weren’t people here supposed to be intelligent? Shouldn’t they know better than to smoke? Well, I don’t know about that. All I know is that smoking makes a person look way more mature, way more sophisticated, and way more like they have somewhere very important to be as they stride purposefully down the sidewalk, blowing smoke in your face. Emphysema, black lung—none of it matters. What matters is that you and your classmates are choking down a ciggy at every possible opportunity. (It’s also a fabulous way to dress up a pair of Jesus sandals, if you so choose.)And, finally: porn. You’ll be needing it.There are other things, of course, that you could and should bring with you to the University of Chicago. However, these are the essentials—the bare necessities for a better life, I should hope, than the one you had in high school. But for now, be free, don’t fret, and enjoy your last months of high school and summer. If this is the university at which you end up, you’ll have far bigger things on your mind than fashion, politics, and drugs. Not porn, however, because porn makes the world go round.
Luke Dumas is a first-year in the College majoring in English Language and Literature.