A couple of years ago, when my friends and I would sit in my backyard, attempting to partake in illicit activities, my brother would come over and regale us with predictions of the impending apocalypse. I would get more than mildly embarrassed and demand that he leave. He would then begin to give Jon and Tim tips on how to “spit game” and try to demonstrate on Sarah.
As the years wore on, I learned to just laugh at Ben’s antics. And then I had a prolonged encounter with Dave Chappelle in San Francisco, during which the comedian told me that my brother’s theories were right. (This actually happened, and Dave Chappelle was not joking, until he called Ben “my honky brother”, but still …) Between this interaction and, well, the Iraq War, innumerable natural disasters like the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, Russia invading Georgia — the apocalypse is supposed to come from the Russians — and the complete and utter downfall of America’s economy, I’ve now come to believe that my brother is probably right. And the relief is glorious.
Most people like to think they “find themselves” in college, but I’d say I’ve been the same exact person since at least sophomore year of high school. Figuring out what I wanted to do, however, never really came together here in Corn-town. What I did realize is that I mostly don’t “give a care,” and things will tend to work out — but, you know, in the case that they don’t, the world’s gonna end soon, so peace out muthatruckas!
My original life goal was to become whatever it was that encompassed being an “Uptown Girl,” owing to a likely mid-life crisis my father had around the time of my birth. My older sister and brother never had to deal with anything weird, but when I was born, my dad bought a 1958 Corvette and a copy of Billy Joel’s homage to doo wop, An Innocent Man. When I was old enough to wear real clothes, my dad dressed me in a cheerleader outfit he bought at the Cornell Store (pictures of which he attached as the optional photo with my application), put me in the passenger seat of the roadster and drove around town blasting the song about the uptown girl. I thought there was nothing else out there for me, so I embraced it fully and ate all the white bread in the land.
A few years later, I realized I was too smart to go back in time and be reborn as a socialite from the Upper East Side, and I took an interest in being a teacher. I figured that all I did in school was solve MENSA-for-Kidz puzzles and get gold stars, and teachers gets to push buttons and draw on the smooth, smooth whiteboard. But then, in first grade, my class was divided into the Robins and the Bluebirds. The Robins were good at reading, and the Bluebirds were destined to enter vocational school. The Robins put on skits for the class and the Bluebirds drooled excessively on our mini desks. Occasionally, so my mother loves to tell me, each Robin was partnered with a Bluebird, and my partner was a lovely young lady named Maribel. My aspirations for teaching swiftly ended when Mrs. Wong called my mom in for a conference because I had told her, “‘Maribel is too stupid to learn.’” I was apparently the most arrogant six-year-old she’d ever seen in all her years at Laurel Elementary School. Wha’eva, I’m too good for your stupid profession.
From then on, I decided I wanted to be a dentist, since I figured dentists make bank. And you know why? Because they have a treasure chest full of plastic toys of even lower quality than those from fast-food kids meals, and which I could play with in the bathtub — that was a deal-breaker.
I also briefly flirted with the idea of driving a bus professionally. At camp we had a driver named Drunken Ernie, and he always seemed to be having a good time. His man-pregnant belly hung over his belt (and surprisingly normal-sized waist); he always double-fisted a Big Gulp and Bacardi; and he couldn’t help but hiccup along to “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors as we whooshed around mountain roads peppered with skull-and-crossbones road-signs.
In fifth grade, I had the sudden and all-consuming urge to become a marine biologist, and I spent the better part of that year telling everyone it had nothing to do with Leonardo DiCaprio because boys stank of dirt. (It was about Leonardo DiCaprio.)
One time my mother caught me off-guard while I was halfway through the back-to-back 4 p.m. Full House/Family Matters block and a Slim Jim: She asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said “A Rhinoceros.” When I found out science hadn’t kept up with my career plans, I went black to huffing glue for the next 10-or-so years.
Freshman year, I tracked myself to be an i-banker, because I loved my iPod and had mild dyslexia. I majored in economics and suffered the consequences: boredom, dearth of self-respect, tears, panic attacks, night terrors, eating puppies, etc. I dropped that after three wasted semesters and picked up American Studies. “What’s that,” you ask? “And what’s that good for?” Nobody knows, but at the very least, I think I’ve paid my debt to apple pie, and I’m for sure qualified to be an uptown girl.
You know what though? Vladimir Putin and Hank Paulson have shown me I don’t need to waste my time thinking about such nonsense. Ben says the Mayan calendar ends in 2012, so I’m sure I can use all the knowledge and resourcefulness I will have picked up earning my Cornell degree to camp out on my parents’ couch for the next three years until feces and fan collide. It’s a really nice couch. And it’s nice to have goals.