College is one of those things that will always mean something to those that went to college. What does it mean? Honestly, it just means that they went to college. For some people I know, college was a wise choice. I, for one, appreciate knowing that my dentist went to college and got a degree in the art of wielding tools of oral torture. Just thing of how unsettling it would be to walk into a dentist’s office and find him reading a “Cavity Drilling for Dummies” book just before you are to have a cavity filled that appointment.

I also need to point out that college, for a lot of people, is one of the most expensive private party clubs they will ever join. I know I’m still paying off the cover charge on my last collegiate endeavor. There is a universal conversation that all college goers have about 2 days after graduating or leaving for good, and that is, “Do I have to start paying of my student load right now, or in like a week or two?”

In my case, I went to college twice, once for art and once in hopes of getting a degree that could help me get a job afterward. The art school I went to was a touch odd on a few levels. For one thing, it was a school in Wyoming that was known for its arts programs. I should state that it was only known for this within the state of Wyoming, no one had any idea this was even possible. Besides, if you know anything about Wyoming you know that this equates to about 12 people actually knowing about this school. Ok so maybe there were a few more than 12, the point being that there just aren’t that many of us. In fact, if there were a Wyoming species of human, I’m pretty sure we’d be on the endangered species list.

Another oddity about the school is that it was also an agricultural school, for farming, and horses, and rodeo, and other cowboy and farmer like skills. Ok that’s actually more of an expectation instead of an oddity, but it did mean that about 90% of the students were either art majors or agricultural majors, and that does make is a touch odd as far as Wyoming colleges goes Other than the initial surprise that Wyoming actually has colleges.

The nice thing about being an art student is that, traditionally speaking, artists are rather odd ducks. If there is one thing I learned from the ugly duckling story it’s that odd ducks need to stay together … oh and don’t be a mean bastard. I’m pretty sure that was one of the lessons in that book.

It was during this attempt at being an art student that I met the lad I want to talk about today. His name was Jim, but we called him Carrot Jim. And before he was Carrot Jim he was Banana Jim. I wish I could say that it was because he was a vegetarian, but I don’t think he was. The banana name came from his bananas… the ones in his sketchbook. You know, the more I keep talking about this the more I think I’m going to get in trouble. See Jim was one of those artists that always had his sketchbook out and was working on a drawing. It was quite inspiring really.

Now if there is one thing you can count on from an artist it’s that they have phases. Picasso has his Blue phase, Monet has his water lilies phase, Pollock has his splashy-splashy dribble-dribble phase, and Jim, well, Jim had his Banana phase. He was always drawing them… and for the record, when I say banana I mean that strictly in the fruit that The Librarian of the Unseen University loved to eat. Besides Jim’s banana obsession, the other thing that set him apart from the other art students was his glasses. They were of the Buddy Holly genre of eye ware and you usually saw those dark horn rim frames before you saw Jim.

Jim belonged of the pasty pigment phylum of man and because of that his eye glasses were one of his more distinguishing physical identifiers. Perhaps this is what started the carrot project, I’m honestly not sure, but what I can tell you is this, college is a time to experiment and try new things just for the sake of trying it. Jim was no different.

It started out as one of those “You know what I heard” conversations where someone actually said, “You know what I heard? I heard that if you eat a bunch of carrots it will eventually turn your skin orange.” This was followed by a barrage of, “gnut agnaa”, which can be loosely translated to mean, “oh no it won’t.” There was however one “Really!” in the bunch. Maybe it was a result of being too pasty for too long. Maybe it was because he wanted to be the same color as Alan Steel in Hercules Against the Moon Men. Then again, knowing Jim, he just wanted to see if it could be done.

And that was the birth of Carrot Jim. For the next few months, for every meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner Jim ate carrots. Not just a few carrots, but a cafeteria tray half full of carrots. He did eat other things and as I recall was a big fan of coffee, but mostly, he ate carrots. Now perhaps it’s just me, but attempting to change your skin color through mass consumption of carrots would fall under the “seemed like a good idea at the time” category of ideas, which usually translates at some later point to “that really wasn’t a very good idea, why didn’t you “friends” try to stop me.”

And why is it when a friend makes a poor choice and then later reviews it, you suddenly become a “friend” as opposed to a friend, when they talk about your lack of stopping them from the choice they made. Yeah, and they always raise both hands, doing that little bunny ear sign in each hand when the say friend just to make sure you know the word is housed in quotations. This is when you attempt to explain that you, on numerous occasions, did attempt to defer them by saying things like, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” To which you always received trite and unimaginative response, “Well I’m not you.” In most cases people are going to do what they want, regardless what friends and family tell them to do. So stop trying to blame your “friends” for your choices. Case in point, I blame no one but myself for that six month period I went through that I tried to mimic Robert Smith’s hairdo. And you want to know why I did it? Easy, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Still, after about a month of mass carrot consumption Jim slowly started to tint orange, and with each addition week the more pigmently altered he became. I mean sure he might have been a little pasty, but at least it was a normal color that didn’t both confuse and detour the opposite sex, or whichever sex you fancy. Watching Jim turn orange, albeit entertaining, was in the end rather unfortunate. He did stand out in a crowd thought, and the ladies did notice him, it’s just none were interested in “getting a cup of coffee” with Carrot Jim. I think the biggest problem was that orange just wasn’t his color. Poor guy. Although, regardless of anything else that could be said about this experiment, I’m sure we can all agree on one thing… at least the lad was regular.

Jim couldn’t stop either, the carrots I mean. He said he had become addicted to them and could not stop eating them… so I slapped him, threw some milk in his face and yelled, “The power of beef compels you.” while hitting him with a half eater hamburger paddy. Ok, maybe not, but we did talk to him about a possible intervention. Eventually he began to cut back. I’m not sure he ever quit completely, but his skin did eventually return to its natural shade.

My friendship with Jim ended as most college friendships end, we graduated and moved on. Sadly there were some uncomfortable feelings at the end, which at the time was a big deal. In your early twenties there are a lot of big things that turn out to be not that important at all. And now, it just makes for a good story that has been known to get a laugh from time to time. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.

Although, thanks to the reconnectability magic of Facebook, I’ve since caught up with Carrot Jim. He’s just Jim now and turns out he stuck with his art, and fortunately for everyone, he got past his Banana phase. From what I’ve seen of his recent work, he’s become a rather fine artist.

So, any of you have any friends that tried and succeeded in turning themselves a different color?

Image Sources:
Google Images, key words: college, sketching in sketchbook, baby carrots, finger quotes, and intervention.