Friday, September 01, 2006

Bow down to your Master of Fine Arts

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Thus begins the first September in several years where I won’t have to begin school in some way. I’m done with elementary school, middle, high school, undergrad and graduate studies. I wish I could be depressed about it, but I’m too tired.

There’s no more reason for me to buy a new Mead five-subject notebook — the kind with the hard plastic cover to prevent fraying and bending, thank you very much. No more ogling the electric pencil sharpeners. I could go to the mall and stock up on fancy new sneakers to impress my friends on the first day, but we all know I’d just be lying to myself.

There’s something about the cold, leafy smell in the early September air that gives me a terrific yen to study, and also to consume many, many products available at your local mall that are, at best, peripherally related to schoolwork. I can’t help it! This is a solid two decades of behavioral conditioning I’m talking about. You ring the bell, Pavlov’s dog salivates. You tell me it’s Labor Day, I buy a new bookbag.

These No-School September Blues are part of the reason why I went to graduate school in the first place. Does anyone of sound mind really need a master’s degree of fine arts in creative writing? I'm not sure anymore. All I know is, the bloodsucking leeches at Sallie Mae who are cashing my student loan checks are having prime rib for lunch right now.

But still, I wake up every morning these past few weeks and reflexively wonder if I remembered to buy enough ink to print out my term paper on aesthetics and capitalism. Then I realize, shit, no — I didn’t even write the damn thing yet. Then I realize: Wait. I'm out of school. I don’t have to write that kind of paper anymore. Then I think, “Maybe I should write a humor column about aesthetics and capitalism.” Then I realize: You would sincerely hate that. I’m looking at Ph.D. programs, long story short.

Rather than spend this month wandering up and down the back-to-school aisle at CVS, trying to justify my buying a Hello Kitty lunchbox, I’ve decided to channel my malaise into a more positive, less creepy way. So kids: here’s a handy guide to surviving these crucial first few weeks of school! Clip and save! With a new pair of scissors. They had some nice ones at Wal-Mart.


For elementary school kids

- It doesn’t matter who you are. Something you do in the next few weeks is going to brand you for the rest of your adolescence. Try to wrap your mind around the terrifying significance of this for a moment. Until you grow up, you’re going to be known as The [fill in the blank] Kid. The Rich Kid. The Smelly Kid. The Peed-Her-Pants-During-The-Spelling-Bee Kid. The Toothless Kid. The Permanent-Snot-Bubble Kid. The Kid With The Show-offy 128-Color Crayon Set. The Kid Who Thinks He’s A Ninja Turtle. Choose wisely.

- If you don’t learn anything else, learn your times table. I’m serious about this. Not a day goes by when you won’t need to know your times table off the top of your head.

- Long division, on the other hand, is a quaint throwback to a simpler time in American history, like when people keep an antique butter churn in the foyer. Just get a calculator.

- But you don’t need a cell phone for any reason at your age.

- If you’re getting picked on by a bully, ride it out. Nothing you could do will equal the humiliation that life will pile onto him. As a bully gets older, he’ll get into drugs, knock up his teenage girlfriend, maybe turn to petty crime and end up in jail for a few months. Sooner or later, he’ll be utterly miserable and turn old and fat and lose his hair in an unattractive pattern. He'll be underappreciated at his low-wage job, and he and his wife will hate each other like poison but cling to their travesty of a relationship because of fear of loneliness and because they need each other's laughable income. Rotten bully kids like he was will knock over his mailbox and steal his newspaper and shoot off firecrackers in his driveway at odd hours of the morning, and he may raise several of them himself, little miniature rotten bullies who mooch off him until they're well past their 30s. They’ll shuttle him off to a nursing home because they're "too busy" to care for him, though they're defensive when it comes to explaining how, and they won’t ever visit him, not even on Christmas, except to skim what’s left of his money. Just give it time!


For middle school kids

- Starting a new school year can be very stressful for you when it comes to worrying about whether or not you’re cool. Avoid this by remembering that none of your classmates are cool and neither are you. Sorry, but technically you only become cool when you can drive.

- You’re going to want an awesome pair of expensive sneakers for the first day. Otherwise, you’re going to be called The Ratty-Shoes Kid. But for the love of God, don’t wear them for the first time on the first day, because they’ll be all shiny and white, and it’ll be obvious that you’re trying to impress people with your new pair of expensive sneakers. Then you’ll be called The Blindingly-White-New-Shoes Kid. Instead, buy them a few weeks before school starts and then scuff them up a little bit so they look like you wear them all the time. But not too much or they’ll get ratty. Is this making sense?

- Every year, tens of thousands of suckers nationwide are swindled out of their money by actually buying their own protractors. Don’t become a statistic.



For high school kids

- Wash your face every day, multiple times a day, with soap and water. Seriously. Make the time. You’ll thank me later.

- If you begin to suspect that one of your new teachers hates you, you might be right. They don’t get paid to like you. However, you’re still probably doing something very wrong, so therefore it’s your fault.

- You, on the other hand, are not obligated to like every book they make you read. If you’re not having fun reading “The Scarlet Letter,” for example, keep in mind that that book is wretched melodrama not worth your precious time on this globe. I know. I read it. You are obligated to read it, though, if only to understand why the Old White Bastards in charge of America think it’s so goddam fantastic.

- If you’re a geek, write this down on a little slip of paper and keep it on you every day: “The geeks eventually win.” One day, it will come true. Actually, if you’re someone who picks on geeks, do the same thing.


For college kids

- If you think drinking makes you more of an adult, then drink the way real adults drink. Have a glass of cheap zinfandel with dinner and fall asleep in front of the television.

- Unlike Middle Eastern wars, a college career must have a viable “exit strategy.”

- Incoming freshmen, take note. You’re worried about the thousands of other freshmen your age you’ll be stuck in college with. Specifically, you’re worried about how you’ll stand out. How you’ll make an impression on the universe. How you’ll change the world in a way no one else could. Here’s a tip: Dye your hair a funny color, like pink! Nobody else will think of it, I swear!

- Then, dye it back and get a job.

4 comments:

Fuck You Google said...

That was pretty funny.

I'm actually looking to do achieve some further education myself.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Check this out, daily trivia questions and contests, come join in on the fun!

Dan Medeiros said...

OK, new rule. Nobody post any anonymous comments that are just links to the kind of shit you find in spam. That's not very nice.

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