Debating Cool vs. Geeky At the SFSU Student Store: From SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday September 07, 2004

“I want a zippered, hooded sweatshirt with the letters SFSU splashed big across the front,” says my friend Corrie. We are in the student bookstore at San Francisco State University shopping for textbooks, but very quickly we have migrated to the other side of the room and are perusing racks and racks of work-out clothes and underwear that sport the logo SFSU in the school colors that, I learn for the first time, are gold and purple. 

“Isn’t that kind of geeky?” I say, glancing over at Corrie nonchalant-like to see if I have made the right response. Since returning to graduate school after a 30-year hiatus, I have become unsure of my sense of fashion, or if, in fact, I ever had one.  

“No,” says Corrie emphatically. “It’s not geeky at all. In fact, it’s kind of cool in a geeky sort of way.” 

“It is?” I ask, pausing between hangers. “I don’t remember it being cool to wear a college logo in 1969. I only wore tie-dye t-shirts and overalls.” 

“Suzy,” says Corrie, “times have changed. Just look at all this stuff with San Francisco State written across it. You need to get with it.” 

Indeed, there is a lot of logo stuff in this store, so much so that it is overwhelming. There are sweatshirts and t-shirts of all shapes and sizes, pants and boxers with SFSU scrawled along the sides, printed around the waistbands and stamped across the buttocks.  

“What about these?” I say to Corrie, holding up a pair of skimpy, slinky gold shorts with SFSU in purple block letters on the behind. “You think you’d look good in these?” 

Corrie squints at the shorts through the lenses of her light blue cat-eye shaped glasses. I remember when those kinds of frames used to be geeky. But now they are cool. I know this because I’ve considered getting myself a pair, though by the time I get around to it they may be uncool. I need help with fashion decisions which is one reason why I have latched on to Corrie. She seems to know the trends. 

“No,” says Corrie seriously, “I wouldn’t look good in them.” 

“But do you think they’re cool or geeky?” I ask.  

“Slutty,” says Corrie. “Definitely the slut look. Which is, of course, cool if you know what I mean.” 

“I thought wearing thong underwear so the waistband shows above your low rider stretch jeans was the slut look,” I say. 

“No,” says Corrie. “That’s a cool look. But only in the U.S. In Europe they are much too cool to do that. They let skinny, multiple bra straps show underneath skimpy tops, but they don’t do that gross thong showing underwear thing. That’s been out of style on the Continent for years.” 

“I’m moving to Europe,” I say. “Wearing thong underwear is definitely overrated. It hurts like hell and I can’t imagine pulling it up around my waist. My god, it would kill me. I’m all for VPLs.” I pause for effect. “That’s short for visible panty line, “ I add. I want Corrie to know that I can be cool when I want to be, but she is no longer paying attention. 

I put the shorts down and continue filing through the racks. We can’t find a size large woman’s zippered, hooded sweatshirt with the logo SFSU on it and we can’t locate a size small men’s sweat of the same design. The men’s sweatshirts are all so big that Corrie would have to put on about 85 pounds in order to fill one out. The woman’s sweats are only in sizes small or x-tra small and cut short so that one’s bellybutton is exposed when wearing them. I haven’t displayed my midriff in public since about 1972, and I don’t intend to now. I decide right then and there not to be sucked into this logo sweatshirt obsession of Corrie’s. 

“I’m going over to the notebook section,” I say to Corrie. “They’ve got these cool books with San Francisco State printed on the cover.” 

“Big time uncool and geeky,” says Corrie under her breath as I walk away, but I ignore her.?