John indulges in Oakland’s newest sport, “Kelly-calling”. Coming soon to a porch couch near you!
By John Lavanga
Having a porch on the borderline of South and Central Oakland essentially amounts to having a front row seat to an alcoholic vaudeville of painted faces, inane babble, and the occasional tipped-over mailbox. The performers come in all shapes and sizes, laughing, shouting, throwing things, kicking things, and immersing themselves in all the escapism they can fit into their Saturday night as they hide from the terrifying demands of college life. College life is in part a kind of escapism from the bleakness of real life, but let’s ignores that for four years. On the weekend evenings when I am not numbing my frontal lobe and joining the rabble, I love to watch my fellow students stumble by as I try to place them into categories and understand their tendencies. To quote Ron Swanson, “I’m here for the same reason people go to zoos.”
One of the most entertaining categories of Pitt student I’ve observed is known as the “Kelly”. If you go to Pitt, chances are you’ve either seen a Kelly, or you are a Kelly. Kelly is the girl with the North Face fleece, the leggings she wears as pants, and the leather riding boots. It’s not necessarily the clothes that define a Kelly, but the eerie feeling of déjà vu that I get when I see them. Each time I see a Kelly, it’s as though I’ve already seen her. It’s not that they are clones; they’re a bunch of very different people who are following the same basic formula for appearance and behavior, and this makes them look like clones. I don’t understand it, and that’s probably why I find them so fascinating. Their male counterparts, the Chads, are equally bizarre to me. I once observed a group of Chads run through traffic. They proceeded to kick a lamp post, then jump up against a chain-link fence, laugh and run away. All in a single file line. Never have I personally seen something so moronic organized so well. Nature is amazing.
The term “Kelly” is not my invention. My roommate thought it up as we discussed what to call the girls who strutted by in lockstep on the weekends, perpetually engaged in a competition for the shortest skirt. It seemed that Kelly was the name that encapsulated the essence of their strange, entertaining existence. Over the course of last semester it became a weekly ritual of mine to sit out on the porch with my roommates and a few friends so we could all unwind from our respective sleep-deprived weeks and yell at Kellies. On brisk autumn nights, nothing was more relaxing than enjoying a tasty beverage as I heard a close friend scream “KELLY!” at a passing flock of Kellies, on their way to someone’s dirty basement for a big night of regret, watery beer, and broken stilettos. According to my roommate’s calculations, at least one in every five Kellies will respond, most likely because their name is actually Kelly. Once the “Kelly” has responded, usually with a confused, “Who are you? How do you know my name? Where am I?”, the porch cheers and the bewildered “Kelly” trots back to the flock. Later in the evening, we pick up where we left off as the returning Kellies, now a gaggle, stumble back down the same street wasted, lost, and trying to find their ways home. The benevolent “Mother Kelly” rushes about, trying to keep her drunken friends from stumbling into the street. Eventually they all go home to sleep off their poor choices, and the Kelly-calling comes to an end.
Zoo’s closed, folks.