For the past six semesters, my family and I have made the conscious choice to send a sizeable portion of our life savings to Temple, in the hopes that I both gain a practical education and that our commitment to the Cherry and White is one day repaid in the form of two comically oversized novelty Adirondack chairs being bolted directly into the ground at the busiest part of campus.
As such, I would like to take this time right now to thank Temple’s gracious front office for letting me live out my dream of sunbathing at Hagrid’s summertime beach hut and emasculating myself by foolishly attempting to sit in a beach chair made for a half-giant. I would also like to thank Temple’s Facilities Management department for not spending the hundreds of dollars that these chairs cost on something frivolous, like helping my friends not have to drop out.
Likewise, I’m glad the people running Temple are “hip” and “with it” enough to paint the hashtag “#TUBigChairs” directly onto the side of the seats in question. How else would any of us young academics have ever known what to call the new “big chairs” on Main Campus? I’m glad no one decided to hold any sort of naming contest for the new decorations, though. I would’ve hated for a creative name like “Big Chairs” to have gone to waste in favor of #WasteOfMyTuition, #BallSoHard or “Wait, You Mean Temple Spent a Few Hundred Dollars of My Money on Chairs That Nobody Can Sit In Instead of Reducing My Loan Debt?”
For the few of you that may dislike the hashtag, allow me to ask you this: If you bolt a bright-red, 300-pound chair into the ground, and someone in Cool Ranch-scented sweatpants and male Uggs isn’t around to take a duck-faced selfie in front of it, did you really bolt a bright-red, 300-pound chair into the ground at all? Didn’t think so. Point for #TUBigChairs.
Furthermore, I’m really glad those few hundred dollars didn’t go to waste on anything other than hashtagged, unusable chairs. I’m sure Temple’s brass all sat together for hours in a bare-bones, stuffy boardroom, ordering Chinese takeout and debating options into the wee hours of the morning. I can only imagine that the conversation went something like this: “Should we give this money away?” they surely asked themselves, eventually finding the idea of donating back surplus tuition dollars into the student body of a state-run institution as ludicrous as the rest of Temple’s population must. “How about we round up all of the stray cats in North Philadelphia, give them vocal lessons, teach them all some basic dance choreography and put on a bi-weekly musical cat revue entitled, ‘Les Meowserablés’? Too ludicrous? How about some sort of giant prism sculpture that only refracts Cherry-and-White-colored beams of light directly into the eyes of oncoming bicyclists? Too avant-garde? You guys definitely don’t just want to save this money though, right? What’s that? You want to permanently bolt the single most inconvenient structures that we can possibly build into the busiest thoroughfare on Main Campus? Where do I sign?”
Perhaps these chairs weren’t built for me at all. Perhaps these were the chairs guaranteed in the final prophecy of Russell Conwell himself as he lay dying in a hospital bed in 1925 of apparent moustache poisoning, lest we forget.
“He and she who sitteth in the mighty Temple-made thrones of Bell Towerdom shall be destined to travel the world sharing affordable education and decent-to-great men’s basketball to all that walk these fine lands until their dying day. So speaketh the prophecy,” Conwell uttered before drawing his final breaths. I believe that his speech is inscribed somewhere in Founder’s Garden.
Maybe I’m just bitter, because I have sat in both of these fine chairs and hashtagged their name across the digital sky to no avail. At no point was I swept up in an angelic higher education-based vortex, immediately growing a fine handlebar moustache, the wings and talons of an ornery barn owl and the comedic stylings of Bill Cosby. I am not the chosen one. But one of you lucky students may be. Sit in these chairs, enjoy them and make merry. Until the chosen Owl returns, they are all we have.
Jerry Iannelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JerryIannelli.