An internet legend finally arrives on campus
By Phoebe Parker-Shames, guest writer; illustrations by Sarah Wool, editor
After the stressful process of completing college applications and waiting for responses, you’ve been accepted to Colorado College. To celebrate the choice to attend, you join the Facebook group, “Colorado College Class of 2013.” During the summer, a kid named “Snapper Tams” friends you. You have never met him, but he’s going to Colorado College too. Maybe you decide, “Why not?” and friend him, or perhaps you say, “Who is this guy? I don’t even know him!” and click “Ignore.”
Either way, you finally arrive here on campus, and start making friends. Snapper always seems to come up in conversation. Suddenly, you realize that everyone knows about Snapper Tams. “Did you hear about that kid, Snapper?” “Wait, you got friended by him too?” “Wait, how were you not friended by him?” “I heard he’s a winter start.” “Who is he anyway?”
He is Zachary “Snapper” Tams, the kid who tried to friend every single kid in the freshman class on Facebook, and became a legend. His story is one that, sooner or later, every freshman hears, and it has tied our class together, for better or worse.
“I never did it to be famous. I think it’s funny how the whole thing has spiraled into something I never intended it to be,” Snapper says. “I thought it would be a good idea, since I was a winter start. If I had any questions, like about teachers or classes, [I could always ask the kids I friended].”
“I think part of it has to do with my name,” Snapper explains. “Because my name is so unique, people go ‘Oh, who is that?’” Snapper has been called by his unusual nickname since before he was born. “When my mother was pregnant with me, I kept punching and kicking, and so the nurses would come by and say ‘how’s that little snapper doing?’ and it just stuck.”
Will Gross agreed that the name has a lot to do with his roommate’s celebrity status: “I mean, his first name is Snapper…If it had been Bob Something, people would’ve forgotten about it. Snapper Tams is just a great name. It’s catchy.”
His name may stand out, but to the shock of many Colorado College freshman, Snapper blends in with the CC crowd. He is on the short side of average, with ginger-colored that connects to a thin, well-kept beard. His most distinctive feature — a blacklight ink tattoo that stretches over his chest and back — lies hidden.
Now that he has finally arrived on campus, he’s almost a celebrity. Whispers spread through Loomis during the first week of second semester: “I saw a name tag on the door that said ‘Snapper’—do you think it’s really him?” “Who else could it be?” “Guys, guess what? I actually met Snapper Tams!” “I can’t believe he lives in my hall!”
Will was one of the few freshmen who hadn’t heard of the ‘Snapper Phenomenon’ before he met his new roommate this semester. But it was impossible to remain oblivious for long. “The first day, this guy came up to me and said, ‘Wow, is Snapper Tams your roommate?’… When we went outside, we both heard people whispering ‘Oh! It’s Snapper Tams!’”
Overall, the reactions have been positive. “I haven’t really experienced any negative reactions,” Snapper says. “If anything, it’s made [the transition] easier.” Fame has its ups and downs. Sometimes, the occasional trickster knocks at the door, yells “It’s Snapper Tams!” and runs away.
“It’s not really fun to get people knocking on the door and running away,” Will said. “One night, two drunk people knocked on the door and were like, ‘Snapper, come drink with us!’ Obviously, neither of us had ever met them. And I just thought, what do you make of it? You come to campus and people recognize you already!”
“I don’t always like it, but I wouldn’t say I dislike it,” Snapper said with a smile. “Random people come up to my room and say, ‘Let’s go do something,’ and I’ve never met them before in my life.”
According to his roommate, the fame is not enough to overshadow the real Snapper. “Maybe if I’d known about it before, [it would’ve changed how we interact]. I probably would’ve said, ‘Whoa, Snapper Tams is my roommate!’ But I would’ve gotten to know him and seen that he’s a pretty normal and cool guy… When all the hype around Snapper Tams wears off, he’s quite comfortable to be around. It’s clear that he’s more than just a name.”
It is, however, a name that will stay with the Colorado College Class of 2013 for the next four years, and perhaps beyond. It is a unifying memory—one of those quirky facts that everyone knows that brings us back to the emotions and excitement of that very first summer before we all came to CC. ∼