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Looking good, ND

Steve Kerins | Monday, January 29, 2007

After spending my Sunday immersed in writings of genocide, ancient trade and fine art for this week’s classes, I’ve decided to devote this column to something vastly more superficial for my own sanity and for your guilt-free reading pleasure.

While I was studying this afternoon, I often glanced up at friends, classmates and strangers as they walked past my booth in LaFortune. As the hours passed, one thought kept popping into my head:

“You’re looking good lately, Notre Dame.”

Before I write further, let me be clear: I’m well aware that I’m no fashionista.

Naturally, I like to look good when the weather is fine. True to my preppy roots, I value a golden fake-and-bake, double-popped pastels and liberal application of greasy hair products. But I recognize that in South Bend, there comes a point in January where even the best of us are tempted to leave suede jackets at home in favor of a much warmer North Face.

Yet today, I witnessed something bold, something beautiful, and I’d like to raise my figurative glass to those of you who went above and beyond. It’s 10 degrees outside, and you’re still looking fine.

It could be that those New Year’s resolutions to spend some time at Rolfs or cut back on late night LaFun runs are starting to show. Or maybe Santa splurged on some high-end Christmas clothing. Sometimes it only takes a mischievous grin at a friend across the room or a sultry glance up from your homework for your peers to take notice.

In three-and-a-half years at Notre Dame, I’ve learned two key lessons the hard way.

First, relentless cold, snow and the unyielding permacloud can make winter a depressing time in South Bend.

Second, despite its numerous and varied positive attributes, our University can heap a hearty helping of Catholic guilt on the unwary. My philosophy, for what little it’s worth, is that from time to time, it’s okay to be superficial.

I applaud our dedicated administrators, our talented faculty and many of our selfless and humble peers for their devotion to integrity, ethics and social justice. But I find that if I don’t indulge in some quality self-absorption on a regular basis, their admonitions start to wear off for lack of behavior I can be ashamed of.

So please, go ahead. Hike over to FunTan and start working on that bikini body. Spend some extra time on those abs so you can impress the ladies with more than your ability to shotgun beers. Throw pragmatism and grandma’s birthday money to the wind, head to the mall and buy yourself those new shoes you’ve been greedily eyeballing. You know you deserve them.

In fact, I might see you there, because I’m going to buy a pair myself. In the immortal words of Bobby Brown, it’s my prerogative.

Keep up the good work, Notre Dame, because you’re starting to impress me … right down to the surface.