A la Superman’s cape, Catwoman’s mask, and Larry Summer’s smirk, some undergrads don’t need names to be recognized. It’s their unique decor that wins them a kind of superstardom. What is it like to be a person everyone knows, if not by name then by favored accessory? FM gathered two such specimens, known to many as Headband Boy and Shorts Kid.
Due to a perpetual bad haircut, D.A. “Headband Boy” Wallach ’07 sported a headband every day last year until a good barber changed his ways this past summer. Michael E. “Shorts Kid” Coulter ’08 is blazing his own trail of celebrity: the Portland, Oregon, native decided to wear shorts until the first snowfall…and just never stopped. At what turned out to be a surprisingly therapeutic roundtable discussion, the two sounded off about their signature looks, notoriety, and what it’s like to be “that guy.”
FM: So, what’s it like to be known for something other than your name? D.A., did people know you because of your headband last year?
D.A. Wallach: Yeah, last year people certainly knew me—that is, people who didn’t know me personally—by the headband. But I didn’t like that because I like to be judged on the content of my character and on the quality of my artistic and intellectual productions, and I felt like being known by the headband was degrading, insulting, irresponsible, all of these things.
FM: Okay. All right, Michael, do you find people know you because of your shorts?
Michael Coulter: I think a little bit—I’ve heard from my friend that people say someone saw the shorts kid or whatever. I just find it kind of amusing. I think it’s fun to see how people react, because some people just get angry, some people think it’s cool, some people think it’s odd.
DAW: See, I think the shorts are maybe more, uh, advantageous than the headband, because the shorts look like you’re resilient to the weather. With the headband, people thought I was trying to be a jock…[and] my general demeanor, nerdy interests, musical interests worked against that image as well. So I think I made a lot of enemies and had a lot of people judge me before I got to actually meet them and give them a little of what I really have to offer.
FM: Interesting. So, Michael, you don’t think that people judge you for wearing your shorts?
MC: No, I think that the shorts thing is pretty neutral. I think it’s more—there’s more just shock-and-awe value, where people are just like, ‘Are you really doing that?’ and ‘Aren’t you cold?’ Most people just ask me, ‘Aren’t you cold?’
FM: And what do you say?
MC: No, because I’m not.
DAW: What about to formal events?
MC: Um, well, someone suggested I do it to the freshman formal but then my date was like, I won’t go with you if you wear shorts.
Hey, we can’t be superheroes all the time.