Category Archives: Gentile Giant

“Some of the best, most interesting people I’ve met.”

Four years ago today, I began first-year (not to be confused with the gender insensitive term, “freshman”) orientation, and frankly it was a magical time in my life. I met several women who would alter the course of my Wellesley career. These women, more commonly referred to as my “biddies for life,” were and are my inspiration and strength in the midst of my 20something confusion.

Unfortunately, most of them do not live a one minute walk away from my dorm room anymore. They cannot drop their 500 page edition of Middlemarch or desert their tumor-filled mice in the science lab and run over to my room to reassure me that I am fully capable of composing a 100+ document on the trials and tribulations of African health policy implementation.

They are unable to make the requisite six AM Starbucks run with me each morning, as Portia, my favorite barista of all freaking time, assures me that I will not overdose on the trenta– despite its 31 oz. enormity. And they are incapable of telling me– face-to-face– that despite my obvious special snowflake status, I have potential to do great(ish) things if I set my mind and heart to it.

Perhaps this is why I take profound comfort in the Wellesley 2015 Class Orientation flash mob video, in which RAs, first-year mentors, and even a few deans, reassure the incoming class that they can and will be women who will make a difference in the world:

Though I am no Katy Perry fan, every so often a few cliche song lyrics is all I need to remind myself that despite the geographical distance, my Wellesley biddies are very much there in spirit– teleporting me lattes and love. They truly are, as one Yale boy phrased it today, “Some of the best, most interesting people I’ve met.”


Hipsters and Hamburgers

While I chase down ministers of health on holiday in Europe, the lovely Gentile Giant has agreed to share her words of wisdom and wit. Enjoy her masterpiece, which weaves elements of Brooklyn, London, and psychological observation into one fluid and entertaining entry:

I arrived at Grand Central on Saturday morning, chanting Kim’s directions over and over in my head. “Darien 11:14 train to Grand Central. Take the 4 to Atlantic. Brooklyn Flea. Darien 11:14 train to Grand Central. Take the 4 to Atlantic. Brooklyn Fl-”

And then I saw them. I simultaneously forgot where I was going and fought the urge to buy them all a hamburger. Hipsters. Hipsters everywhere. Even though I lived in New York this summer, my seven-month absence induced some kind of hipster-memory loss. Sure, we have our own hipsters up in Boston, but I consider them to be the hillbilly cousins of New York’s finest family. Instantly, my Saturday afternoon Brooklyn Flea Market adventures took a turn for the academic. I, Claire “Gentile Giant” Ayoub, took on my own behavioral study, entitled, “The Study of a Hipster: Natural Habitat, Supplies and Social Interaction.”


While Grand Central Hipsters are interesting, they are all on their way back to the land of the hipster minority, the great land of my people: Connecticut. No, I wanted to see the real thing. Enter the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene. As my friends became engrossed in the vintage jewelry, I crept through the racks of musty clothing to wait for my prey. I found an empty corner and stood as still as possible. I knew how nature documentaries worked, and I was prepared to do the equivalent of standing for four weeks in a riverbed if it would allow the fish to become used to my presence. And by riverbed, I mean flea market. And by fish, I mean hipsters. And by four weeks, I meant until lunchtime because boy was my tummy rumbly.

My method was working. Two girls slowly walked over to my corner, making sure to look at everything with an ironic half-smirk. Their clothes looked ragged and tattered, but I was 98% sure they weren’t homeless. I’ve been told that staring at people in dark corners isn’t socially acceptable, so I began to rummage through a rack of men’s coats to my right, all while keeping them in my peripheral. In hindsight, I would have been better off staring. Those of you who know me know that A) I love childhood and B) I am horrible at hiding my joy. So, when I found a red raincoat with adorable rope toggles during my cover-up, I immediately pulled it off the rack and squealed.


Observation 1: Hipsters don’t like surprises.

Observation 2: Hipsters judge with minimal effort.

Observation 3: Hipsters hate childhood icons.


After blending in so well in Brooklyn, I decided to give the Manhattan Hipsters a chance to shine. Or brood. I followed my friends into Hipster Mecca:

I had never been in Urban Outfitters before. I tried to fight it, to maintain my documentary drive, but I couldn’t help sounding like my father.

“Hey, looks like someone cut off half the fabric and doubled the price! Guffaw guffaw!”

Needless to say…the visit was short.

Observation 4: Hipsters are willing to pay $30 for plastic sunglasses sold on the street for $5.

Observation 5: Hipsters don’t like eye contact.

Observation 6: Hipsters don’t like small talk.


Now, I thought my research was done for the day, but I was in for the academic surprise of my life. My best friend’s boyfriend was at a barbeque in Chelsea (almost a tongue-twister…ALMOST!) and we were invited over for dinner. With my own measly bank account in mind, I was picturing some kind of 9-floor walk-up with a view of a meth lab. So, imagine my surprise as I walked into a schmancy building overlooking the Hudson and was directed to take a few lefts and a right until we reached the elevators by the second wall of cacti. “Not to be confused with the first,” the doorman said. Obviously.

I am not usually self-conscious. You’re talking to the person who covered her jeans in glitter and sequins at age fourteen, then leapt through the hallways screaming, “I’M A STAR!” But I found myself unnerved at being so incredibly underdressed. However, I quickly found out that I wasn’t lacking a DVF shift and a whisp of Chanel No. 5. No, I was missing about nine holes in my jeans, oversized black frames and the light musk of PBR.

Hipsters. I was at a hipster barbeque. I was having hamburgers with hipsters on a rooftop in Chelsea. I, Claire Ayoub, hipster investigator, had just stumbled onto the nature documentary’s equivalent of a blue whale birth.

So, what happens when you combine Hipsters and a Gentile Giant with a perpetual case of the giggles? Pure magic, that’s what.

Observation 7: Hipsters are afraid of whales (like me).

Observation 8: Hipsters hit their heads on lamps (like me).

Observation 9: Even hipsters get the giggles.

When in doubt, make ‘em laugh!

The Gentile Giant


I left my heart in Brooklyn.

Avid readers, I have arrived in the land of cucumber sandwiches. The weather is glorious, in the rain, fog, and sleet sense, and the people– well, they continue to describe me as “gregarious.”

However, as many a New Yorker will tell you, you can take the girl out of the City, but you can never take the City out of the New Yorker. Hence my need to share the following video, which has made me incredibly homesick. It is an ode to my future borough of residence: Brooklyn, and documents the lives of Brooklynites, who adore Michael Jackson, Paris, and Sunday brunches:

And for those well acquainted with the Gentile Giant, expect a glorious guest post Monday morning!