The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Column: Analyzing your choice of AIM font? Don’t use Comic Sans

I’m the first person to admit that I did a lot of questionable things in middle school. I recently looked through a photo album and realized that I owned an entire outfit made of denim. Including shoes. I don’t know who made and sold these clothes, but part of me thinks that I might have been a major plotline in a reality TV show called, “Just Try and Make Friends Now, I Dare You.”

The series of school pictures on our wall at home looks like the evolution of man from some terrifying monkey beast. In seventh grade, my shirt looks like it was made from human hair; in eighth grade, I’m at least 90 percent male. I guess I thought things would get better once I got to high school, but that was before I discovered mousse and the ability to slick my hair back into an impenetrable shell.

Over the last break, my brother and I examined my seventh grade yearbook and discovered that I actually signed it myself, three separate times, pretending to be other people. I almost can’t believe I’m writing this down and sharing it with potentially 1400 people, but that’s the way of life. One decade you’re wearing dolphin earrings and wishing you were popular, and the next decade you’re wearing the same pair of jeans most of the time and laughing about how lame you used to be.

Unfortunately, these flagrant social violations aren’t the worst of it. “Really, Rachel?” you say, “Is that possible? You signed your own yearbook three times. In the same pen! You weren’t even trying to be sneaky!” Oh, gentle reader, you have no idea. Last Sunday, my friends and I sat down to watch “Helvetica,” a sweet and highly recommended documentary about fonts. We were about halfway through, laughing about why anyone except a reincarnated ancient Egyptian would ever use the Papyrus font, and I remembered something terrible. For eight years in middle school and high school, I used purple, bolded Comic Sans as my primary instant messaging font.

“Well, that’s not very exciting,” you might be thinking. WRONG. Have you ever seen Comic Sans? It’s a font used primarily by the middle school teachers who wear Christmas sweaters with baubles hanging off them. I think it’s supposed to look cute and fun and childlike, but it’s more like a highly advanced robot trying to
pass as a child in its pursuit of world domination. That’s right. TERRIFYING.

I didn’t realize my faux pas until junior year of high school, when my best friend (himself a user of white-on-black Times New Roman) asked me if I used the font while talking online to my recently acquired prom date. “I mean, it’s not a big deal,” he said hastily when I expressed confusion. “I’m sure he’ll realize it’s a joke.”

“HAHAHA,” I said. “YES OF COURSE. WHAT A LAUGH. IRONY IS SO HOT RIGHT NOW.” But inside I was confused and surprised. What was wrong, I wondered. Was it the sassy purple? The proud and confident bolding? Little did I realize that the font itself was, as the creators of put it, “like showing up to a black tie event in a clown costume.” And worst of all, something told me I had been at that event before—sporting a bowl cut, wearing a denim onesie, touting my yearbook full of suspiciously similar signatures. This appeared to be a pattern, and if this Comic Sans debacle was anything to go by, it was the kind that didn’t become apparent until it was much too late.

Years have passed since then, and I’m proud to say I’ve grown. My favorite font now is Verdana, not coincidentally the default font of LiveJournal. But whatever, I’m not ashamed. I’ve owned a teddy bear waistcoat; it literally can’t get any worse. In fact, fetch me this year’s issue of the Cyclone—I have a few things to say, and I know just the pseudonyms to sign them with.

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