Most of my friends know me as a very trendy and fashionable guy. I would never dress down even if my life depended on it. I guess when you respect yourself, the world respects you back. A few days ago, a random thought went through my head: “What if I dress like a sloppy mess today?” And so, I carried my plan out just to see how significantly my world changed.

Waking up in the morning, I proceed with my morning ritual of showering, brushing my teeth and getting ready. The first exception is that I will not put on my nauseously strong Hermes cologne today. Then, I hastily dry off my hair without putting the daily essential Moroccan oil or curling it into my usual wavy style. I grab an old cap that looks like it was probably made during World War II to tuck my salon-quality platinum hair in. I want people to assume that I am a typical Asian nerd with no life. Clothing choice is simple: first, I pick a plain black shirt and cover it with an old green fleece hoodie that my dad had ditched in 2005. Then, I throw on an old pair of faded straight-legged jeans that I bought at a local thrift store for 5 dollars just for this purpose (the jeans now have been donated to a nearby clothing bank). Next I put on a black pair of no-name leather walking shoes borrowed from my grand-uncle that look like they have no business on non-retired people. I also have to leave my yellow diamond ring, stud earing, and my fancy watches at home; “got to look very nerdy,” I remind myself. I even have to trade my designer glasses for some contacts. FYI, I hate them!

“I look so re-damn-diculous,” I think to myself, “What the fuck am I doing?” However, I convince myself to follow through and just like that, I’m heading to the U of A.

I sneak into a random class in CCIS at 11:55 am. The class has not yet started but most of the students are there. I walk sheepishly to the front where a row of young, beautiful girls are chatting and laughing. Seeing an unoccupied chair, I ask one of them awkwardly: “May I sit here, Miss?” She stares at me, rolls her eyes like a cinnamon twist, puts her bags on the empty chair and replies: “No”. Others stare me down with absolutely no compassion. In their mind, it must have been: “What a freak!” Mind you, I normally always sit in the front row of any classes. The difference: I just walk in and throw my exclusive-New York-collection-Coach-duffle-bag-that-you-can’t-find-anywhere and most people just drift away giving me the space I want. Disappointedly, I retreat to the back of the class. Fifty minutes pass like torture in this random 200-level Biology class, in which I even answer a few questions just to kill time.

When it’s over, I head to CAB’s Starbucks to grab a coffee. I need my daily “grande half-sweet, extra hot, extra foam, caramel latte with a shot of espresso and soy milk” after this tough morning. Normally, the staff would be very attentive to me, telling me jokes or being extra friendly mostly because their big boss is my next-door neighbor. But today is different. I do not think they even recognize me at all. The employees are cold as ice and a bit annoyed with my usual order. They actually pour in 2% milk instead of soy and even scold me with some attitudes when I complain. Let me tell you, it is so not easy for me to get the right order at all. I pull my Louis Vuitton Porte Valeurs Organizer wallet out to pay for my drink and I instantly realize the wallet sticks out as a sore thumb in comparison to my entire get-up. I can tell some folks are surprised and the words “fake shit” must have been floating around in their heads.

With my coffee in hand, I head to Rutherford South to study. I never really study in there. Mostly, it is either too crowded or too quiet and I hate those uncomfortable wooden chairs. I know I can’t go to SUB because my friends would blow my cover away and probably be confused as fuck by what I’m wearing. Managing to find a table in the common space, I sit down and begin to pull out my notes for an upcoming mid-term. As I study for 15 minutes, I begin to feel uneasy. I look up and many eyes are on me. Frankly, I am used to this because I normally do wear over-priced stuff and people often stare at me with either admiration or jealousy. Today, it is filled with some sort of condescending attitudes like “what a geek!” or “did he get that fleece hoodie from his grandfather?” or “who dresses him? The 19th century?”

And surprisingly, most of those eyes belong to “my own people” if you know what I mean. I then just pack up and leave, having enough of my time there.

As I walk back to my car, I also feel very weird. Normally when I walk around campus, people give me some sincere, heart-warming smiles for no damn reason. When people look at me in the eyes, I look back at them, and they tend to look away. Today, they seem to glance at me viciously and I am the one constantly looking on the ground to avoid them. I feel as if I am starring in college-edition of a 2012 Mean Girls and no, I did not have lunch in a toilet stall.

Am I just being too sensitive because I do not look my normal self? Are those behaviors I observed real or just the products of my active imagination due to low self-esteem? Am I just really an asshole when I dress nice and exude an overconfident attitude that either makes people avoid me or be nice to me? I really do not know! But what I do know is that when I’m walking around with my shades, designer bags and shoes in my fancy clothes and hair, people definitely seem to be nicer. I guess life is indeed all about being H.A.M, either: Hard As a Motherfucker or a Hot Ass Mess. Honestly, I prefer the former than the latter. Call me a narcissist if you will but it is just what it is!

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