Breaking the Ice — “Shirley Tilghman: Not a Bro”

Breaking the Ice — “Shirley Tilghman: Not a Bro” 150 150 Will Saborio
"Dick Van Buren" icing Prez Shirley Tilghman

"Dick Van Buren" '10 icing Prez Shirley Tilghman

That up there is Shirley Tilghman, President of Princeton University. Opposite her is “Dick Van Buren” ’10 (who asked we change his name for this article). In the photo, DVB is icing Shirley Tilghman. This is his story.

But, let’s backtrack for a second — if you haven’t yet heard of icing, well, I guess you’re not a bro, bro. Quoth the Times:

The premise of the game is simple: hand a friend a sugary Smirnoff Ice malt beverage and he (most participants have been men) has to drink it on one knee, all at once — unless he is carrying a bottle himself, in which case the attacker must drink both bottles of what [one bro] described as a “pretty terrible” drink.

The trend’s struck colleges across the country, and has even started to creep into everyday bro life. (Icing a bro when he gets to his office desk in the morning, icing a bro when he gets back from the gym, icing a bro coming out the bathroom — classic, all of them.) Unfortunately, the chronicler of the offline meme,, has stepped down. But if you stuck around for Reunions this year, you might have seen the wreckage of the beautiful game around campus — freshly downed bottles of Ice were strewn about campus much of the weekend.

And one of those Ices had Shirley’s name on it. DVB tells us how things went down.

“It wasn’t planned or anything,” DVB said. “I stashed an Ice or two in my beer jacket for the P-rade in case a prime opportunity arose. Little did I know…”

Yes, DVB was, in a way, about to make history. Scene? Poe Field, swarming with parents and students. Task? “I was hanging out with some of my buddies who were also graduating and I made a passing comment about wanting to ice Shirley. They convinced me to at least try.”

Could he? Could DVB stare down his target? Could he step up to the giant, like David did Goliath, with humble Ice in hand? Our man mustered up the courage.

She was up on stage taking pictures and talking to professors and I didn’t see any security measures in place other than the crowd’s own sense of propriety, so I just walked up on the stage and stood around trying to look like I wasn’t about to offer her a delicious citrus-flavored malt beverage.

A deep breath later, things escalated quickly.

I moved in during a gap in conversation and introduced myself, explained the rules of the game, and offered her an ICE Original on behalf of myself and the Class of 2010. She informed me that she couldn’t be seen chugging it, so I asked her if she could just take a sip, which she also declined.

We’ve known this for a long time based on her policies, but now we finally have confirmation — Shirley Tilghman: not a bro.

Thankfully a gracious alum accepted the thrown gauntlet.

I was just about to walk away in disgrace when the guy (I think his name was Adam) who was in charge of running the P-rade stepped in and bit the luke-warm, triple-distilled bullet. I had introduced myself to him earlier at the class picture because he was being absolutely hilarious and seemed like a total bro, so he must have remembered me and realized that I wasn’t a straight-up creep. He had asked me to toss him a couple Bud Lights while he was walking next to Tilghman in the P-rade and I guess he wanted to return the favor so I wouldn’t have to retire in defeat.

DVB: We applaud your skill, and commend your attempt. May the Ice be with you.

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