The pink sunset lit the face of Cayli Yanagida as she grinned and repeatedly slammed the frozen T-shirt onto the hot asphalt to the rhythm of her teammates chanting “Go, go, go!”
Minutes earlier, the community associates had given the eight teams of cherub instructor groups a mission: untangle a tied-up, frozen T-shirt and put it on one of your teammates as fast as possible.
My team, the Secret Life of Kupetz, quickly formulated a plan.
Melt the ice in the 60-something degree water of Lake Michigan.
Blow on the T-shirt ( in hopes our breath would warm the shirt).
If all else failed, take turns ruthlessly slamming the T-shirt onto rocks and the ground.
After about two minutes, we had resorted to hitting every hard surface we could find. We disregarded the well-being of the old T-shirt — collateral damage.
So did we win? Maybe not officially. But we won each other’s friendship, and as the T-shirt began to melt, so did our hearts.
As the last team was untangling its shirt, the aggression of the competition began to thaw. Everyone stood around Jude Herwitz as he quickly threw his freezing T-shirt over his head, to a Paul McCartney-worthy chorus of “Hey, Jude.”
That night meant a lot to us. It was our first weekend at Northwestern, and we were still making friendships and creating bonds. The frozen T-shirts were a way to literally break the ice.