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Read this, or I’ll break your knees

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, February 8, 2007

It’s that time of year again – when the arctic South Bend air will induce frostbite in mere minutes and when you wonder why on earth you endure such excruciating conditions just to get an education.

And as you witness countless students wiping out on the ice-coated sidewalks, your thoughts might skate backwards in time to a young woman who was once the epitome of “trouble on ice” – former figure skater Tonya Harding.

True – Harding was the first woman to nail the triple axle, double toe loop combination, but we all know that her name would’ve melted into obscurity – that is, if she hadn’t been a co-conspirator in the 1994 clubbing of her nemesis, Nancy Kerrigan.

And yet this skating saga was a measly single axle compared to that spectacle that would spin in the coming summer, boosting former football star O.J. Simpson into Gold Medal position on the award stand of infamy.

True – Simpson was the first NFL running back to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season, but we all know that his name would bear nowhere near the notoriety that it does today, had he not allegedly slain (oh, wait, he was acquitted in the criminal trial) his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

And yet both the football-player-turned-murderer and the figure-skater-turned-clubbing-conspirator realized eternal renown without dropping thousands of dollars (and adding dozens of layers of clothing) en route to a top-tier education. After all, Simpson was simply enrolled in classes (perhaps a ballroom dance class?) at the University of Southern California, and Harding didn’t even graduate from high school (although she later earned her GED).

Oh, well – at least the pair possessed some degree of athletic aptitude.

But what about those with non-educationally or athletically-oriented “talents” who also managed to squeeze their way onto the podium of infamy?

What about the talent-less former back-up dancer Kevin Federline? As subzero temperatures descended upon South Bend last Sunday, Federline starred in a Super Bowl commercial, our society’s sure sign of infinite repute. And how did he attain that sought-after status symbol? He merely married (and then divorced) a trampy pop music icon.

What about former White House intern Monica Lewinsky? She simply “pleased” then-President Bill Clinton, thus securing her own medal of notoriety.

What about former Enron CEO (and now deceased) Kenneth Lay? Well, he surely would’ve netted straight 6.0’s in the category of egregious corporate fraud. And after that unfeeling feat, his name was undoubtedly propelled into another esteemed category – that of the forevermore recognizable.

Likewise, what about Lorena Bobbit? I needn’t tell you what she did to earn her place among the notorious; more likely than not, you’re already familiar with her butcherous tale.

And what about Notre Dame alumnus Steve Bartman? In 2003, he caught the scorn of a city – and thus, eternal infamy. And he did this using only his hand, not his coveted Notre Dame degree.

So why then do we trek through polar snows and tolerate the “wind tunnel” of South Quad? After all, we can clearly attain everlasting renown without either an education or that highly sought-after piece of paper.

So what’s the moral of this story?

Perhaps you should ditch your goose-down coat and your Biology textbook. Maybe what you really need is a trampy wife or a black leather glove that you can claim doesn’t fit.

Otherwise you, as just one of the many well-meaning students who slip on the ice in front of DeBartolo, will slip into obscurity like Tonya Harding should have.

You surely don’t want a frostbitten nose. But don’t you want to be frozen in time?

Liz Coffey is a senior American Studies major and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy minor. Her column appears every other Thursday. She can be reached at ecoffey@nd.edu

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.