Like everyone in Rexburg, I am preparing for the winter. Just thinking about the cold to come — the snow, the wind, the ice and frost, the blue world we will scrape, shovel and block out with holy grails of cocoa, heaters or, if you’re lucky, logs crackling away in the fireplace — is enough to make even the most hardened Rexburgian shiver.
Last week, while walking past the construction site formerly known as the Manwaring Center, I was witness to the surest harbinger of an impending Rexburg winter: the cold-couture inversion. I quickly took note of the phenomenon, knowing that it was time to unpack the long johns.
What is the cold-couture inversion, and how does it mark winter? Scientists have yet to come to an accord, but the basic theory is simple: the colder it gets, the less important fashion becomes.
In the dead of winter, outerwear ceases to function as a peacock’s feathers; it is judged by how warm it is rather than how well it will attract a mate. Necessity dictates utility.
For those seeking proof of the cold-couture inversion, there are several signs a budding Encyclopedia Brown can spot:
1. Females are known — due to small chance they will ever wear shorts — to allow leg hair growth much more liberty than usual. If only Rogaine worked so well.
2. Males can be seen wearing uncharacteristic colors and patterns of scarves, mittens and beanies, borrowed from female friends or spouses as a last resort against freezing.
3. Rather than the thin, tapered and non-insulated jackets worn three out of the year’s 12 months, the student body becomes a homogenous gro clad in puffy coats, more reminiscent of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man than anything else.
Citing the Apostle Peter, Brahms wrote “all flesh is as grass,” into his Requiem. As the flower fades, so grass withers. They say death is the great equalizer, but they obviously never lived in Idaho.
If scientists had discovered the inversion in his time, perhaps Brahms would have penned, “all style is as summer’s Otter Pop, and as frost-bite threatens, style becomes pretty serfluous.”
I decided to warm with some hot cream of potato so and watch my fellow students stroll through the Crossroads, driven about by the ominous acronyms — GPA, GRE, LSAT, MCAT — that could govern our futures. I wondered if the principles of the inversion — that necessity dictates utility — could be extended beyond clothing only.
In elementary school, it is easy to see what comes next in life; simple arithmetic will tell you that grade 5 comes after grade 4. Here, we spend these university years racking credits toward a graduation. After that, there’s no one to tell us what’s next anymore.
It’s like when kids collect tickets at a skeeball arcade, saving for the big stuffed animal prize behind the glass counter.
We save course credits. We get a diploma. But what’s beyond the counter? That’s undetermined.
Approaching the winter of graduation, the fluff of college becomes a little less important. Necessity breeds utility. Where social activity once reigned, the library is now monarch. Where bonfires once dominated, study time now commands.
Like everyone in Rexburg, I’m preparing for the winter, and it’s time to unpack the pocket protectors.