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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Hi, I’m Gross, mah No really, it’s Gross, mah

<mission to Carleton gave me many things: a decal on my car, a newfound appreciation for Madonna’s brilliant “Like a Prayer,” an understanding of where my t-shirt comes from, an introduction to step-aerobics, and so much more. But perhaps the greatest thing Carleton has given me thus far is a name: grossmah.

When I got the letter that my Carleton ID would be “grossmah,” I was shocked. It seemed to reinforce all of the preconceptions I had about Carleton being technologically mediocre. I thought it was bad that the school isn’t entirely wireless yet.

I thought it was bad that Carleton’s website is unimpressive. And then came grossmah. I imagined the cover letters and the job interviews. I tried to reconcile with it – I spoke in a Jamaican accent for a while, imagining that my email address was a way of telling people that something is gross.

And yet, as gross (mah) as my email address is, and as scared of telling it to a future employer as I am, I’ve realized since coming to school that grossmah is a really awesome tag to my identity at Carleton. Like a Jonas brother’s tight pants or Sarah Palin, it turns heads. People laugh at it, not with it. And that’s okay.

If Sarah Palin has taught me anything (other than how far thick-framed glasses can take you in politics), it’s that email addresses don’t really matter. She was governor of Alaska and used a Yahoo! account ([email protected]?) for official business. Does that make grossmah any less official? Probably.

But Carleton isn’t about being “official” or being like Sarah Palin. In my moments of self-righteous shock, I forgot that silliness shouldn’t always be subordinate to seriousness. This is another thing I’ve learned from Sarah Palin, even if she has taught it to me unintentionally. The Carleton community, as much as it values academic and personal exploration, also values silliness, which should not be taken for granted.

Why should the seemingly unfortunate, but really, truly Carleton usernames – balls, wangs, fagina, khunt, and, though it pales in comparison, grossmah – be abandoned for the sake of convention or political correctness?

“I wouldn’t change my username for anything. Pretty much all of my friends call me Balls without thinking about it, and it’s so much more distinguished than ‘Sarah,’ I think. It’s also a great conversation starter,” said Sarah Ball ‘10.

These usernames and the multitudes of other bizarre, inappropriate, or absurd ones that exist on campus probably should have been red-flagged, but they weren’t. At the Carleton library, it’s banned books week, which urges us to read and celebrate books that have been ignorantly prohibited across this country (ah, another unintentional reference to Sarah Palin).

In the same vein, if those of us with strange, sometimes embarrassing (but most of the time really, really cool) usernames were to change our names, we would be no different than those book burners who are closer to us than we imagine.

Carleton wouldn’t be Carleton without its students, who can have a sense of humor about their awkward names. But at the end of the day, when I get sick of explaining how to spell “grossmah,” and I’m cursing the length of my last name, I’ll at least take comfort in the fact that I’m not fagina.

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