Whether he's physically present at games or not, he screams as if he were. Each time Carolina scores, you can hear him shouting with glee at the television screen. And the Carolina fan will be sure to let you know when UNC wins as he runs up and down the hall, screaming in victory at the top of his lungs. That's dedication.
Sometimes, especially after big games, he rushes to the bathroom to steal rolls of toilet paper. On his way to Franklin Street, he decorates trees with streams of the stuff, totally disregarding its more practical use. That's dedication.
Once he reaches Franklin Street, he might climb a tree in addition to decorating it. From up in the branches, he shouts down at the crowd, shakes the limbs to and fro, and even bangs on his chest from time to time. Again, dedication.
After winning really big games, the Carolina fan burns offerings to the Doherty god in the middle of Franklin Street. He dances around the fire, bravely leaping over the flames. There's an image in the smoke that speaks to the Carolina fan ... "Child, the cars on the street are a sign of nonbelievers. DESTROY! Destroy the cars so that the righteous children of Carolina shall rightfully take back their street."
And of course the Carolina fan listens. Ah, dedication.
Now meet a fellow we'll call "Shorty." He's a student -- much like the Carolina fan. He comes from Burnsville, which used to be my hometown in the mountains. But the Burnsville-ites kicked my ass out, citing me as "different." I like to think of my exile as liberation.
Anyway, back to Shorty. You see, he got a little mad at me last semester when I poked some satirical fun at Burnsville in a column. Shorty's very proud of his redneck heritage and found the piece distasteful. He sent me a few insulting messages telling me just how ignorant and arrogant I am.
So this semester, I made a joke about tiny Burnsville-ites having to overcompensate for being so small. The joke could have been taken as a diss on folks from my old hometown for being so backwards and small-minded. Shorty, however, took the joke as a direct diss on his less-than-average height.
As a result, Shorty called me up that night. He screamed, "I might be small, but I could still take you." And he promised that he was going to beat my ass, etc., blah blah blah.
I laughed, telling Shorty, "I'm sorry you're so insecure about your size. Buh-bye."
Understand that people from Shorty's hometown have a special way of dealing with reality. Burnsville-ites are rather impulsive, thinking that duels can be the best way to solve problems with thy neighbor.
The conflict itself might be over some stolen chickens, a young girl's unexplainable loss of maidenhood or a longstanding family feud, for example.
But it really don't make no matter who caused the problem in the first place.
In Burnsville, what matters most is who's left standing proud after the problem's been solved.
Burnsville-ites don't concern themselves much with consequences.
So when Shorty called me up with his threats, I shouldn't have been too surprised. I naively assumed that when he left Burnsville for Chapel Hill's bright lights, he came to terms with the fact that there's a big difference between civilized individuals and hillbillies.
But then again, is there?
Let's go back to the Carolina fan and what occurred last Thursday night after the big game. Excited fans rushed Franklin Street. Fires were lit. Trees were covered in toilet paper. And a few fans got so excited, they flipped a car over, severly damaging it.
Like Shorty, these fans acted without any regard to the consequences that could follow their criminal activity. If caught, they'll have to pay some major fines and will be remembered for blighting Carolina's fan reputation.
But hey, Shorty should be comforted to know that he's not the only one around UNC who acts irrationally. And Shorty, if you're reading this, don't get mad. Keep in mind that I could have used this column to poke fun at your obsessive insecurities with size.
Or, I could have made fun of the way you reacted when you saw me on campus last week. Remember? You complimented my wonderful attire. I could have told you that I'm just not interested -- even with Valentine's Day looming around the corner.
Then again, I could have commented on how you were born with a silver spoon up your ass ... and how important it is to have a rich daddy-o lawyer when trouble pops up.
But instead, I offer you a tidbit of advice: Get help.
Look into therapy or some anger management courses.
One day, you're going to threaten the wrong person and possibly ruin your whole college career -- or much worse.
And the fans who destroyed property last Thursday night should join Shorty in seeking help. Anyone who takes celebration to a criminal level has serious problems. Violent outbursts, in any form, simply can't be tolerated.
We are capable of so much more.
Cameron Mitchell is a junior journalism and mass communication major from Burnsville. Reach him at email@example.com.
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