BYU boasts a code, and I'm not talking about the Honor Code. BYU has a secret code that's actually not-so-secret for seasoned zoobies.
I am not seasoned, nor am I a zoobie. I don't even know what "zoobie" means. Thus, I violate this secret code every time I step foot on campus. I've gotten looks, and whispers, and stares, and even a "whatta jerk!" So please, my dear cougars. Be patient with me. I'm trying to understand your strange culture. I'm trying my best to fit in. I feel like the Hiccup among experienced dragon-slayers.
Secret #1: Smile. Even when you're not happy, smile. Smile at people you don't know. Smile at people you don't like. I thought that I was a pretty "smiley" person, but compared to the rays of sunshine on campus, I probably look like this:
I don't smile enough, I guess. Also, I believe my eyebrows are permanently scrunched together from reading and analyzing so many different texts. This makes me look angry, even though I'm not.
Aside from smiling, everybody on campus starts a conversation with you, even if you're sitting on the toilet in the ladies bathroom. (Oh, and I was not exaggerating on that last one — it happened to me last Thursday.)
Secret #2: People on campus never, EVER wear sweatpants or pajamas. And, MORE IMPORTANTLY, it is wrong to ever assume that pants that might look like pajamas are pajamas. A girl in my program was wearing bright plaid bottoms that looked so movable and baggy. I told her that I liked her pajamas and that they looked very comfortable. She stared and me and said, "You mean you like my pants?" She left the room promptly. I guess the part of my brain that's supposed to register fashionable pants is broken.
Secret #3: When people on the quad hand you flyers, you take them. All of them. Every single one. I did not. A girl was handing out flyers while I was speaking on the phone. I shook my head, I smiled, I whispered "no thanks," and continued walking. That's when I heard this, "Rude!! Whatta jerk." I got so mad that I wanted to march right up to her and slap her in the face with those tree-killing flyers that people throw in the trashcans anyway.
Secret #4: Call the BYU buildings by their secret nicknames, not their actual names. I once asked my peers for directions to the Spencer W. Kimball Tower. They stared at me quizzically. Apparently, this building is called the SWKT, pronounced "ticket" but with SW. Does ASU have any secret building names?
Secret #5: When BYU secures two "Hail Mary" football games in a row, it is a testament to God's love for His school, as well as the talent and skill of football players and ol' Bronco. I said it was merely luck in my class, and my students gasped as if I failed them.
Secret #6: Excessive PDA is not excessive at all, really. This one... I just don't get. I like seeing couples on campus, especially when they're holding hands or studying together on the green grass. I think it's cute and charming. I get really really uncomfortable when I see couples kissing a lot or when they put their hands in each other's back pockets and feel around. When I see such couples, I feel like I am the only one staring aghast while everybody else zooms on their merry way.
Now, don't get me wrong. This is certainly not an attack against BYU. I love this school, and I am having an incredible experience. I have met so many good people who care about their schooling, their work, and their peers. There is a sense of camaraderie in the graduate instructor offices that I have never experienced at ASU. My WRTG 150 students are incredible — smart, hard-working, kind, and honest. Everything is going right... except for the fact that I don't understand BYU's secret code. There are probably several other secrets that I have yet to discover, so until then... I'll just be unconsciously offending people. Because that's what I do.
(Did you know that tunnel-singing is a thing?!)