When I first moved to New York and got a job at Spin in 1995, my best friend in the office (and one of my closest friends now) was a guy named Jeff Rotter. Jeff had a trick he called “The Wet Chin”—-he’d go into the bathroom, put enough water on his chin so it was dripping a little, then walk around and talk to people as if everything was just so.

It was really unnerving. Our managing editor at the time finally asked him to knock it off, and that was the end of the Wet Chin.

But check out this week’s Sports Illustrated, with a picture of superstar swimming star Michael Phelps, sporting…the Wet Chin.

It’s almost impossible to look at the cover of this magazine, even if you don’t share the memory of Jeff’s wide-eyed terror campaigns against his officemates. Here’s that chin up close.

I was never sure whether Jeff was ahead of his time or not, but I think this settles it. And I think I should probably mention that Jeff is a very good writer, and his first novel, The Unknown Knowns, is coming out next March. There’s an excerpt from it on the Hunter College M.F.A. site. The passage is about water.

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