Special SectionsThe tell-tale turtleneck

The haunting of every English major's favorite clothing item
Kayla PadillaSeptember 9, 2019292 min
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Illustration by Andrea Nebhut

It’s the fall of 2019, and you’re a first-year at Trinity. It’s not the University of Oxford, where the weather better suited your fashion sense, but you’ll just have to make do. The temperature reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit daily, but because of your delusion, you’re determined to keep wearing clothing that speaks to your personality, not to the weather. For now, however, that black turtleneck will stay in the back of your closet — or so you think.

It’s been three weeks of classes, and so far they’ve all been great. Then one morning you’re woken by a creaking noise coming from the closet. Oddly enough, the lights in the closet are flickering. You gradually walk towards it, only to realize that all of your clothes have been thrown on the floor, except for one hanging item: a black turtleneck. No, not again, you mumble in fright. The humidity outside simply does not allow for turtlenecks to ever be “in.” Tired, you grab a T-shirt from the ground and hurriedly put it on, as the hanger holding the turtleneck begins to shake violently.

Going between classes is uneasy, to say the least. Going to the bathroom is worse. There you are, washing your hands as most people would, then you look up and see the reflection in the mirror. No, your face isn’t twisted in some scary way, no there isn’t some dead relative coming back to haunt you, but there you are, wearing a black turtleneck in this San Antonio heat, just like in your nightmares. Afraid, you run out of the bathroom drying your hands on your thin T-shirt; it hardly does any good. You know what would dry your hands quickly? A turtleneck. Where did that voice come from? Whose voice was it?

You rush into class, ready to give your presentation on Spanish Cinema; your mom’s voice is echoing, “Just imagine everyone is in their underwear, and you’ll be less nervous.” So of course, as weird as it is, you pretend everyone is in their underwear, and it calms you. Your back turned to the class, you’ve started writing notes, when you hear one of your classmates speak up, “Um, excuse me, I have a question.” You turn around and to your horror, you realize that they, along with everyone else in the class, are wearing a black turtleneck. And goddammit, they’re not even wearing pants; it’s just twenty people wearing black turtlenecks in their underwear.

You wheeze, you shriek, you almost throw up. Trying to run out of the room feels so slow. As you’re running back to Witt-Winn, you pass the Coates Student Center, where President Danny Anderson is talking to potential students and their parents. “Here at Trinity, our values are Discover, Grow, Become, Turtleneck.” No, not him, too!

You rush to your room, where it seems the outside world can’t come in. After hours of laying low, you log on to your laptop and refresh T-mail. Ah, yes! Your order for your geoscience books has been confirmed, “Confirmation email: Geoscience 1220; Order: 1 Black Turtleneck.” NO! You throw your laptop out your window, hitting a car and triggering its alarm. The owner of the car and her friends start yelling from afar, so that it sounds like distant rioting. Your suitemate is making vegan enchiladas in her microwave, but she’s left them for too long, so now they’re popping loudly.

Your mind won’t quiet down, so you decide to give up and put on the black turtleneck in your closet. It starts to warp into your skin, becoming one with you. You realize you’re leading a class discussion in your literature class, so you run up to Northrup defeated. The turtleneck is getting tighter around your neck, but pulling it off just isn’t an option anymore. It’s part of you. “I like your aesthetic,” yells a girl you’ve only said hi to twice.

If only she knew, you think to yourself. If only she knew.

No fear, English majors; this is a work of fiction.

Kayla Padilla

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