I got my MIT class ring, or “Brass Rat,” last Friday, along with the other jewelry-inclined members of the class of 2011 who bought them, and I have to be honest, it’s taking some getting used to. I consider myself to be a non-aesthetically-minded sort of person (because it sounds nicer than “fashion-handicapped”), and an engraved beaver visible from orbit isn’t what I usually think of as a digital accessory. Yet here I am, staring at the hunk of metal on my finger and twiddling it back and forth like an indecisive electric screwdriver.
There’s a peculiar mixture of emotions associated with receiving my Brass Rat. A sense of power that, I imagine, would make even Green Lantern jealous. The feeling of relief in knowing that come next CPW, only the very inattentive will mistake me for a prefrosh. The familiar giddiness of having something new to show off to others — heck, I’d wear a floral bonnet if I’d just gotten it and thought it was pretty. Yet mingled among those feelings is a characteristic self-consciousness. Although I have a great deal of pride in my Brass Rat, it’s changed a great deal more than how much time it takes me to wash my hands or how readily I can pull my wallet out of my pocket.
Sure, now I have my very own Brass Rat, but that hardly sets me apart from the rest of my classmates that got one and only slightly apart from the ring-wearers of any preceding class. It makes me a little more like Terence Howard and Robert Downey, Jr. in Iron Man, though. When I go home for the summer, I’ll be constantly paranoid that doing anything conspicuous with my right hand, like rubbing my face, scratching my hose, or executing the subordinate underling du jour via Force-choke, will come off as pretentious. I mean, I suppose now is as good a time as any to develop ambidexterity — it’s been on my to-do list for years — but I don’t want to hide my Brass Rat, only not appear to drawing attention to it. The last thing I want to do is upset some hypothetical person who is vehemently bitter over being rejected by MIT and breaks down into tears at every mention of it. Like I said, I’m probably being paranoid.
Wearing a Brass Rat on my hand and a variety of hats on my head (sometimes simultaneously) is honestly as far as my ability/willingness to accessorize goes most of the time. I don’t wear much in the way of jewelry like rings or medallions, and I need a piercing like I need a hole in the head. Still, for the right outfit, one is prepared to make exceptions. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to do some shopping today. After seeing a certain tiara-rich operetta the other day, I’ve determined that the price of dignity just might be worth it, and there’s only one way to find out. Best of luck on finals to all, and remember — if nothing else, at least you got something shiny out of your time here.