On Monday morning in the JE dining hall, I hovered over a friend’s iPhone to see the Whim/Whiffs list. We were jittery. And excited. And nervous.
Despite my membership in the advanced chorus at my middle school, my involvement in singing at Yale entirely consists of knowing people who sing. I also enjoy uploading pictures of my aca-friends in formal attire onto my Instagram. In the past few weeks, I’ve RSVP’d to four a cappella jams on Facebook.
This week was a big week for some of my best friends. It included some heavy disappointment –– and in other cases, lots of smiley face emojis.
An hour after seeing The List, I saw one of my best friends for the first time since he’d been admitted to the Whiffs. After hugs and high-fives and “OH MY GOD”s, I said, “Wait, let’s talk about how this affects my life. I have to get a Mory’s membership now.” We laughed.
I was sort of kidding.
I wasn’t always a fangirl outside my perpetual crush on Darren Criss from Glee. (Fun fact: he sang with the Whiffenpoofs in 2013 at some benefit concert.) But it’s not really about being attracted to people who sing. That happens to the best of us sometimes. What I enjoy most about a cappella at Yale is that there are lots of people who are very in love with and committed to what they do, and you can really tell. That doesn’t stop me from teasing them when they take themselves too seriously.
Last week, I got coffee with one of my freshman year suitemates. We hadn’t spoken in a long time, so it was lovely to catch up with someone who knew me in the golden days of Camp Yale: When everything was shiny and gothic and endless. We gossiped about our FroCo group over lattés and discussed summer possibilities. Then we talked about how much we’d changed in our two-and-a-half years at Yale. I reminded her of her freshman year obsession with a cappella, which made us laugh.
She and my roommate attended pretty much every single singing dessert during our first fall. I didn’t really get their obsession. I didn’t intend to sing, so I didn’t particularly care much. That being said, she bought a Duke’s Men album and played it on loop in our common room for a month. None of us objected.
I do, however, distinctly remember thinking the term “singing dessert” was ridiculous. I had a comical, cartoon image of dancing cakes and pastries with faces like the candlestick and teapot from Beauty and the Beast. I imagined the desserts dancing in the form of a horseshoe.
Note for the orally challenged: The horseshoe is that half-circle shape that a cappella groups make when they perform. I don’t know why they don’t just call it a half-circle, but apparently it needs its own name. I’m aware that it’s more or less the shape of a horseshoe, but it’s also proportionally wider; I’m just saying.
Throughout the rest of my freshman year, however, singing had little to no effect on my college life. Then one day during my sophomore fall, a friend of mine invited me to a small concert with her group, Something Extra. It was no big deal, and I had some free time, so I went. And it was really, really good.
I always got invited to concerts, but I started to pay more attention to them. So I went to a New Blue show. Then a Whim show. The Spizzwinks(?). The Alley Cats. The Duke’s Men. It just started happening. I remember hearing a Taylor Swift mash-up by an all-women’s group, which made me quite emotional. I started attending concerts to support people whom I hardly knew and for people whom I dearly loved.
Last week, at the Proof of the Pudding Jam, I sent Snapchats of my best friend Caitlin acting out ridiculous, cheesy skits and then cooing a lullaby. There are so many moments when our efforts on campus go unnoticed, but I got to be loud while she was onstage. I got to clap and yell and woot and snap and appropriately celebrate someone that I love here.
For my next 15 months as an undergrad, I fully intend to continue unabashedly fangirling. I will do everything shy of dancing along in the aisles like Amy Poehler in Mean Girls. I will yell out embarrassing nicknames and make noise. I will eat the desserts. I might cry whenever a soloist performs Pretty Hurts. I don’t need to wear gloves to be in love with the spectacle.
Adriana Miele is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.