In a world filled with click bait headlines like “Adorable Dog Finds Stick: You won’t believe what happens next!” and Buzzfeed videos of the top 20 funniest moments of Citizen Kane, the art of a long-term joke is lost. We live in a world of immediacy where comedians and writers above all else are rewarded for how quickly they can produce new humorous content. However, sometimes a joke takes time, and more than just a time lapse camera. Sometimes a joke is funniest when you let it marinate.
This is the story of my favorite long term joke. It is not the funniest thing I have ever done, but to this day it produced one of the most fulfilling moments of my life. And if you like the story please tweet, post to Facebook, up-vote it, and re-blog it so that I can get a job writing this story about a cute baby eating mashed peas, and you won’t believe what happens next!
My junior year in college, I started to long for the high school days when I would wake up and put on the same uniform without a second’s thought about what I was wearing. It was the best. I loved the freedom of never thinking about what I had to wear. I understand how most people see a uniform as the opposite of freedom, but to me there is nothing like the freedom of not having to waste a single second thinking about fashion.
In a moment of brilliance, I had an idea. I do not usually call my ideas brilliant, but I’m pretty sure I originally got the idea from Seinfeld, which I have no problem calling brilliant. I decided I was going to create an adult uniform for myself. I was going to pick out one outfit and stock a closet full of them and wear the same thing every day. This process is also called cartooning one’s self.
I toyed with the specifics of this plan for quite some time. I knew I wanted to wear the same thing all day every day, but what outfit can you wear out drinking but also during a class presentation? I decided that on top would be a polo, a comfortable yet business casual look. The bottom would be jeans, but I allowed myself to switch to khakis for the occasional class presentation. I decided blue was a good color on me and I went online and ordered eight sky-blue polos. When they arrived I hung all eight them neatly in my closet, and took out Monday’s shirt. I would have a shirt for each day of the week plus one extra to hold me over in emergencies and on laundry days.
What was the point of all this? I wanted to see how people would react. In college, unlike high school, you do not see the same people every day. You may see the same people every Tuesday, but you don’t see them on Wednesday. I pictured a person in my class slowly beginning to wonder, “Does he wear the same shirt every Tuesday?”
Then as the year goes on he gathers evidence and builds his case. He keeps a log of how many Tuesdays in a row I wore a blue polo and jeans. He starts taking pictures on his phone so his friends will finally start to believe that a kid in his philosophy class only owns one shirt. And then one fateful Saturday, I would see him at the bar and he would see me, on a Saturday night, wearing my same blue polo. Mind Blown.
I learned something interesting about people. Most people noticed nothing. I literally wore the same outfit to a class of 20 people which involved a lot of discussion, and I asked them at the end of the semester what they thought about my uniform, and not a single person knew what I was talking about.
Then there were the people I had never met and only passed on the street who started to shout at me, “Hey, there’s blue polo guy!” They noticed. I even had one guy ask me every time he saw me, “Is that a new shirt?”
Honestly I never cared who noticed and who didn’t, that was part of the fun. Those who figured it out got brought into the fold of the joke, and we were amused by how small the group of ‘seers’ was. What I ultimately wanted to get out of this year long joke was one moment, one juicy, incredible, delayed gratification moment.
Like I said before this whole idea was inspired by the Seinfeld episode where Jerry dates a woman and she keeps showing up in the same dress. He becomes obsessed with seeing her closet and finding out if she does in fact only own one dress. I became obsessed with the hope that some person would have that obsession about me.
I met a girl at the bar one night and we hit it off. We went on a date. Then we went on a second date, and let’s just say this date ended with runners in scoring position. We went on a third date but this time we went back to my apartment instead of hers. We got back and she asked for the tour of the apartment. I thought this might be it, this might be my moment. After all, who needs a tour of a college guys apartment. “Here is the futon, here is the hole in the wall I don’t remember punching, and over here is my Scarface poster. Oh, and leave your shoes on, the carpet gets a little sticky.”
When we got to my bedroom she tried to seem interested in the room and pretended to look at the crown molding, which being a college male I didn’t even realize was something we had. Then it happened. “Can I take a look in your closet? I just want to see if its bigger than mine.”
Huzza! If she had not tried to come up with a lame justification for looking in my closet, I might not have known, but I knew immediately. She had noticed, and I believe she entered my apartment with a plan to stealthily see my closet to check for other clothes.
To this day I still savor that moment. There was so much going on in just one brief look into my closet. I had achieved bringing a Seinfeld episode fully into life. I had finally got the exact payoff I was looking for after a year long joke. I found out she knew. In finding out that she knew, I found out that she was the type of person who would have noticed a guy showing up for the second date in the same outfit as the first, and still hooked up with him. I then found out that seeing five identical outfits hanging in my closet was not a deal breaker for her. I found out I love messing with people. I found out that I love doing things just because I think they are funny. I found out I maybe over-commit to jokes.
One of my favorite aspect of this story is the fact that she never mentioned my clothes. She went on dates, engaged physically, and introduced her friends to a guy who only wore one outfit, and she never mentioned it in front of me. Maybe she was trying not to give me the satisfaction, or maybe she knew how satisfying it was for me that she never mentioned it, but I hope somewhere she is getting satisfaction out of telling the story of when she dated a guy in college who only had one outfit. A blue polo and jeans.
Here is some visual proof. I’m the one in the blue polo.