I was recently in State College, PA for a few days. Because I’m the world’s best sister, I decided to do some shopping for my darling brother. There are two items I know he never tires of: any attire bearing the name “Penn State Blue Band,” and a key chain that plays the Penn State fight song when you press it.
In a town that literally exists because of the university, I figured, piece of cake! I’ll have no problem finding these things! I parked my car on College Avenue and confidently walked into the first store covered in Penn State apparel.
I walked a bit further down the road and went in a second store.
I finally happened upon what appeared to be the official Penn State Bookstore.
Ah HA! This’ll do it.
I scoured that place from top to bottom. All two floors of it. There were Penn State alumni shirts, Penn State mom and dad shirts, State Patty’s shirts, Blue and White shirts, One Team shirts, onesies for babies, pacifiers, key chains that doubled as bottle openers, Swiss army style key chains, scarves, winter hats, flags, garden ornaments, posters, shirts for every sport you could imagine INCLUDING water polo, and more.
I became so overwhelmed with all the options that weren’t what I was looking for that I actually asked for help.
I don’t know if this has come across in my writing at all, but when it comes to asking for help, I am exceedingly stubborn and insistent that I can do things myself. I’ve always considered my self-reliance something of a strong point of mine, but sometimes it’s so much easier to just ask for some darn help.
Anyway, a very nice young lady informed me that she knew for a fact that they no longer make the fight song-playing key chains, and she was 99% sure there was no Blue Band merchandise available. However, if there were any Blue Band t-shirts to be had, they would be upstairs with all the sport shirts.
As I was frowning at the large wall of sport t-shirts one minute later, I noticed a Penn State volleyball shirt.
Slightly, but not completely, defeated, I opted to go with the volleyball shirt and a simple white hat.
On Sunday, I headed up to Dude’s house to hang out with him for a few hours. Playing off of Dude’s somewhat recent interest in opening gifts, I folded up the shirt and hat and put them into a gift bag.
Dude spotted the bag in my hand the second I walked in. He was on it as soon as I set it down on the table.
As he pulled out the items and set them down on the counter, I filled him in.
“I was up at Penn State a few weeks ago and was thinking about you, so I got you some things,” I explained.
Dude didn’t say anything at first. I thought I’d prompt him.
“What does the shirt say?” I asked.
I was prepared to bask in the glory of a brilliant purchase for my brother. His face was going to light up and he was going to babble about Penn State volleyball for the next few minutes.
Instead, my jerk* of a little brother turned to me and said, “No Penn State Blue Band.” (To understand Dude’s use of the word “No,” kindly refer to the Dude Language Guide.)
Kind of like, Uhhh yea. This is really great and all. But this isn’t what I wanted. Like those kids who cry on Christmas because their parents get them a black iPad instead of a white one or a Mercedes instead of an Audi. (<– I wish that wasn’t a thing, but it is. There was a guy who compiled a bunch of Tweets from pre-teens, teens, and young adults who went BANANAS because they got the “wrong” gifts from their parents for Christmas or their birthdays. It makes you lose faith in humanity just a bit.)
Before I had a chance to answer, he decided to make me feel even worse.
“No Penn State key chain!”
I couldn’t decide whether I was amused or slightly annoyed. “Dude, I tried to find you a key chain and Blue Band stuff, but they didn’t have any!”
And then he went completely off-script just to spite me.
“No Penn State football shirt. No Penn State basketball,” Dude said without looking at me as he carefully picked fuzzies off his new t-shirt. He references Maryland football regularly, but PSU football much less frequently. And he NEVER talks about PSU basketball.
“Well that’s the last time I’m doing something nice for you,” I answered, smirking.
*Said with love. I’m not actually mad at him. I was just really, really amused by the whole thing.