Thursday, September 25, 2008

This side of the room

It’s your standard-issue dorm room. One of thousands on this mid-sized, Midwestern college campus.

Snug. Yet functional. With just enough room for two beds, two desks, a fridge, and a TV.

As for its occupants, they will struggle to share this space because they are worlds apart.

On that side of the room, it’s White Sox. And tits. No reading material beyond the required and ridiculously expensive textbooks. There’s a box of Kleenex on the shelf by the bed. It’s bland. Average. Orderly. Nothing at all extraordinary or unexpected.

But on this side of the room, it’s another story.

It’s Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson. A psychedelic poster graces one wall, a Fear and Loathing poster, the other. Pencil drawings taped above the bed. Empty liquor bottles stuffed behind the bolster. This side is delightfully – almost intentionally – cluttered.

These two kids are freshman. At the dawn of their professional adult lives.

Who are you betting on?
People like us – from this side of the room – don’t take the standard, acceptable path to get where we are.

Some people call us courageous. But following our own path has always been more about instinct than bravery.

Things don’t always go according to plan for us because, quite frankly, there is no plan.

We don’t always follow the rules. Because some of the rules are downright ridiculous.

We don’t learn from the mistakes of others – preferring to stir up our own share of fresh (often silly, always exciting) screw-ups.

What’s ordinary bores us. We’re drawn to everything sophomoric and irreverent and rude because it helps us escape everything that’s expected and typical and normal.

We’ve disappointed our parents and friends, teachers and bosses. But these are the same people who are still around, rejoicing the most when things go well for us, because they knew we had it in us all along.

We’re attractively normal looking (much to our disappointment and undying dismay) but are always more comfortable among the freaks on the fringes.

We’re scarred. But rarely scared because we’ve survived more than our share of self-induced shit.

We’re atypical addicts. Food, sex, drugs, booze – you name it, we’ve got it. But there’s no AA meeting, no counselor, no ‘Higher Power’ that’ll rid us of our demons because we know them so well, they know their place, and we genuinely enjoy having them around.

We know damn well why we do the crazy-ass shit we do – we’re often excruciatingly self-aware – but will rarely change because it’s what keeps us so alive, so lively.

We don’t talk much. When we do, it’s meaningful. It has to be. Our silence, coupled with our innate inability to follow anyone (ever) makes us reluctant leaders. We’re destined to disappoint our followers, too, but they’ll stay with us because we’re the only people honest enough to tell them the really right thing to do.

We’re happy to play The Fool – keenly, often uncouthly stating the truth when everyone else remains silently satisfied with lies.

We are also capable of great foolishness. But don’t be mistaken – we rarely suffer fools.

It could be intelligence. A bit of creativity. However, we believe it’s mostly some cosmic quirk that allows us to experience a little more success than most. We also know we’re quite capable of losing everything at any moment, so we tend to be more grateful than most, too.

We’re the kids from this side of the room. Bet on us.
I am listening to: Dissident – Pearl Jam
I am reading: The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems, 1951 - 1993 by Charles Bukowski
And I am: From this side of the room


Posolxstvo I said...

Nearly everyone else at Mythical College, nestled in quaint little Anytown, Northeast USA, was different than him. They looked like they had just stepped out of the pages of LL Bean* or Lands End. He looked like he just stepped out of Spin magazine. Most of them were wealthy. He was on work study.

His two roommates were Bucky and Chris. Bucky was a legacy. Chris was the son of a Long Island postal worker who was desperately trying to pass himself off as a legacy. In the first week, Bucky stopped talking to him, and Chris asked him flat out – “What, exactly, do you think you’re doing here?” As soon as they were able, both Bucky and Chris pledged frats. Neither got into the frat they wanted to – Alpha Delta – but instead pledged Chi Psi and Psi Upsilon.

He sat back and watched. Amused. Wondering why they allowed their peers to tell them what to do, think, wear, say. He was asked at one point if he was interested in pledging TDX, but the offer was removed brusquely when he busted out laughing in the asker’s face.

That first year, he had one roommate or three, depending on where Bucky and his girlfriend chose to sleep. The next year, he had a single. The year after that, a single. The year after that, a single.

In the years since graduation, he has kept in contact with exactly two people he knew in college. When he receives mailings from the school asking him to attend alumni events, he’s pretty sure that he would rather cough up a gall bladder than attend and make small talk with them. They were never on the same path as him. He was never on the same path as them. He flatters himself by presuming that he was able to see their paths and to choose something else, but they were unable to see his.

Of course, he knows that he never really had a choice.

* As a matter of fact, the grandson of L.L. Bean himself went to school there, and due to a common interest in music and computer gadgetry became a friend.

Dave said...

So, that's what he was supposed to be doing.

He always thought that being just within the line of conformity (as defined by those around him) was the way to go, allowing him to hang with frat types, the genius types and the stoners. It worked for the most part.

He never went back, but still operates pretty much the same way, and the method still seems to work.

Anonymous said...

He was inquisitive. He had one sheet of white lined paper on his wall.. it said...

Okay let me see if I got this right... I watched the speech and it seems to me that this was the Presidents point...

Cause - "mortgage backed securities clogging the system"

Status - "The American people can't borrow any money..."

Solution - "Bail out the people who made bad loans so they can LOAN us money"

And do it NOW...

His house was that of a dog...