Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Back in high school, Ankur roped me into writing an editorial for the awkwardly-named Fanscotian newspaper about how much the junior prom sucked ass. You can read the article, which needs some major prettying up, here. I forget how the whole thing came about, although I have a feeling I got the job thanks my perpetual bitching about how unpopular I was and how little I cared about Jane Shih's dress. There were two problems, however. First, the article was due before the junior prom actually took place, and second, like The Shawshank Redemption, the junior prom started off slow but ended as a rousing success thanks to, ironically, Jane Shih. But anyway, I wrote this article and I figured that since you'd have to be extraordinarily bored to even consider reading the Fanscotian, it would just go by unnoticed.

Well, it didn't. And I want to analyze what happened because I think I've come to a conclusion about people. About other people.

See, the editorial got one of two responses. Either you had a blast at the prom and you had some problems with my article, or Dave Lasus dumped you at the prom and my article captured the experience perfectly. (We don't even want to think about why you were dating Dave Lasus in the first place.) My own experience — I sat quietly at table nine, ate my nasty food, watched Jess Biegelson and Evan Dornbush make out prudishly. Every now and then, I went off moping and James was nice enough to commiserate. A little before dessert, I was moping on a flowery bench outside the bathroom when Jane and company saw me looking pathetic, told me I ought to be dancing, and the rest was history. Random chance — if I wasn't on that bench, if those girls didn't all decide to pee at the same time — and the prom would've been a lot different.

It's just a very familiar pattern... cough, cough, senior dinner. You head in with these expectations, then capricious fate and mercurial personalities intervene, and you realize how different things could have been and how little control you have over your experience. No wonder there's no gray area.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Senior Dinner

If you've been reading my blog regularly, you know that I've had some, uh, issues with the Senior Dinner celebration. After all, I was the one who suggested that we have a "Carrie" themed senior prom back in high school, and an attitude like that is sure to lead to problems later in life. The world just seems more suited for social events than I am — since I never had a group of five or ten friends to register with, I signed up as an individual, knowing full well that nothing good happens when you're alone. 'Taint natural to be lonesome. — Thorton Wilder, "Our Town"

When you register alone, you get to choose your own table, sitting with all the other social disasters who couldn't muster up four friends. This is why Bailey's Irish Cream was invented, and I'm pretty sure the reason it tastes like chocolate-covered fire ants is to keep people like me from overdoing it. Anticipating the awkwardness that could only come with a three-hour long senior pseudo-icebreaker, I convinced Erica and our friend Vik to start off the evening with a few glasses of Bailey's and Citrona before dinner. No, it wasn't all that hard to convince them.

My fears were unfounded. Erica has nine friends, so she got a table. Vik also has nine friends, but he didn't bother registering, so he and I shared table 88 way in the back with eight invisible companions. And drinking. Nasty white wine with salad. Nasty red wine with the chicken, which was breaded and served with that same radioactive orange sauce that caterers reserve for junior proms and dinners in tents. I spent the night engaged in my favorite hobby: looking for people I know and then waiting for my Paxil to kick in while I build up the nerve to go talk with them. I ran into a few people, had the obligatory futile conversation with them — "Hey, how are you? It's been such a long time, I never see you around! How've you been? What are you doing after graduation? [awkward silence.....] Well, it was great seeing you again. I'll talk to you later." A lie. How damn disappointing.

And the night would've been a waste except that right before I left, Erica, in a drunken stupor she still denies, sent me on a mission to find Sarah. I was walking around the tent, about to give up, when I spotted Sylvia. Sylvia's a great person to spot at any event because, unlike yours truly, she knows everybody and she's like human serotonin. She got herself right in front of the stage, at the table of honor with the mouthwash-colored alcohol that I'm guessing was brandy, and there would have been much high-pitched screaming and happy hugging on her part had not the a capella group Uptown Vocal taken the stage and led the senior class in a rousing and pointless rendition of our irritating school song, "Roar, Columbia, Roar." I shrugged off to the sidelines and resisted the urge to kill the entire senior class with a plate of radioactive orange chicken. There was much high-pitched screaming and happy hugging and photos — don't forget the photos! — when the song was over.

As an aside, I learned something important from Hanna and Harrigan: chicks love talking about their weddings. The ceremony, the location, the dress, the invitations, the reception, the caterer, whatever. I did my best to put the testerone aside and get engrossed in the details of Sylvia's upcoming wedding. Smile and open your eyes real wide when she shows you the engagement ring. I have a feeling Sylvia now thinks I'm gay.

Nevertheless, I really couldn't follow the description of her dress. I just don't have it in me.

Okay, I want to wax philosophical about the experience, but I've got real work to do. More dinner talk tomorrow.

Friday, April 23, 2004

As part of Columbia's end-of-the-year celebration, they're having all sorts of stuff-your-face gluttony contests on the steps in front of Low Library. The first contest is beer chugging. Excuse me? Beer chugging? How good are all the remaining hot-dog-eating and pie-eating and roast-pig-eating contests going to be if everyone's sluggish and lethargic from all the beer? If I was running the thing, I'd make the first contest espresso chugging. A whole carafe full. Then we'd see some fun contests afterwards.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Good deeds

Rachelle and Rian run this organization called Columbia Community Outreach, where one day a year — this Saturday, in fact, — lots of Columbia students and groups head out into the city and volunteer their time on various projects. According to the massive amounts of literature of gotten about the event, these projects include "playing squash with kids, restoring fireboats, planting flowers and beautifying our neighborhood parks." Now, Rachelle and Rian are running the event, so they're asking pretty everybody they come in contact with whether they've signed up for CCO. Rian, in particular, seems to have this idea in her head that I'm some sort of misanthrope —imagine that!— and she's crusading with extra vigor to get me to sign up.

She'll fail, of course. It's cause there's nothing in it for me. I know, I know, that's an awful thing to say about doing charity work, but it's true. Thing is, I like that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with doing something nice for somebody as much as anyone else does, but this is just too much of a risk. See, you can't sign up for a project per se, so I couldn't sign up to restore fireboats, say. You have to sign up for a "team," because there's no 'I' in "volunteer," and on Saturday morning, your team finds out what lucky sons-of-guns get your Ivy League help. Here's the best part: if you're like me, and you have an 'I' but no team, you can sign up as an individual and be assigned to a dreaded t-word.

Just a side note here — will people please not tell me to stop moping and make new friends? Like with the senior dinner thing, I had to sign up as an individual (surprise, surprise), and now I've gotta hear from people, and from Mom, "Well, you can make new friends with the people you're sitting with." Blank stare; I restrain myself with difficulty. Um, people... if I could make new friends, then I wouldn't be in this predicament. Assholes.

Anyway, you're randomly assigned a project, rather than picking what you want to do. Rachelle assures me that there are reasons for this... many of the organizations CCO-ers will be helping out don't jump aboard until the last minute and others only want a specific number of students. I'll assume you're smart enough to figure out all the ways in which this system is incredibly stupid. But suffice it to say that restoring fireboats actually sounds pretty cool, and who knows, maybe they'd even have a volunteer thing working with animals (that doesn't involve picking up crap after them), and I'm kind of irritated that I'd have to play this roulette game to sign up. After all, who the hell turns away volunteers?

Also, if anybody wants to join me starting up a volunteer group that finds flaws in people's plans and products, then expounds on these flaws in a condescending, cynical manner, let me know.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Hi, do you have a minute for 'Save the Children'? asks the idealistic activist on the street as I pass by, pretending to ignore her. Sometimes I just say, "No, sorry," and sometimes I move to one edge of the sidewalk or the other, as far away from her as possible, hoping that she'll accost somebody closer. But I wonder what would happen if:

Her: Hi, do you have a minute for 'Save the Children'?

Me: Yes, but I don't want to save the children. I don't like kids.

And I keep walking.

That's the thing about kids — tell people you can't stand the little snot-nosed bastards and they give you this blank does-not-compute stare as if thanks to my disgust for kids, the terrorists have already won. Truth is, only thing worse than kids: their parents.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

A Completely Impartial Review of the Varsity Show

Went to the 110th annual Varsity Show, first time ever. It's a Columbia tradition. Thanks to what I'll call a confluence of events — the show was oversold and we couldn't get seats, Wonderfalls was cancelled because people have bad taste, and some guy screaming "Yeah, Kevin!!" at the end of each scene — I left during the intermission. Nevertheless, I'm going to give a completely honest and disinterested review of the show, because if one word describes me, it's "cynical".

For starters, jokes about Yale aren't funny. Neither are jokes about Harvard or Dartmouth. We know you didn't get in and you're bitter, but we still heard all those jokes during orientation, and again during homecoming and spring fling, and they weren't funny then either. You're just insecure, get over it. However, Brown and Princeton are great targets for jokes, because they rejected me.

The show was about some guy with minions who wanted to move Columbia from Morningside Heights to New Haven, Connecticut. Now, I can say from personal experience that New Haven is a total shithole, but it's not like Morningside Heights is Eden either. Much as I love a song featuring references to Duane-Reade and Columbia Hot Bagels as much as the next guy who can tell good from bad, I don't have enough imagination to believe a song that glorifies our neighborhood via the West End restaurant and pub — that poorly-lit bar where everybody looks like their pet gerbil just died. The good guy is a bike-riding Columbia professor who can't bear to move his beloved university; the dude with boring henchmen falsely accuses Professor Tighty-pants of drawing a racist cartoon in the Fed, this crappy Columbia newspaper that appears in my mailbox every week even though I didn't ask for it. Columbia's liberal students turn against our doofus professor, and then, because Morningside Heights is located at the nexus of a time-space vortex that causes ninety-nine percent of the community to ovulate constantly, those same students sing about how sad they are that Columbia will be moving out of state.

Naturally, nobody is going to explain how exactly Columbia is going to move. Is Low Library going to walk to New Haven? You see people, satire only works when it's believable. They should've taught that in Lit Hum, then they could've sung about it during the Varsity Show.

With only thirty-four days left in my college career, I had my first real alcoholic beverage tonight. It was this drink they call an Electric Iced Tea, which was a mixture of vodka, gin, and that blue stuff they use to disinfect combs. Now, the whole drinking thing's been growing gradually, both because I'm currently overdosing myself on Paxil and I worry that I might be called on to save New York City by driving and/or operating heavy machinery and because for my first two years of college, I had no friends and nothing says your nineteen-year-old life has hit rock bottom than spending three hours at a bar all alone. I mean, there were health reasons, too — I never exercise, I'm essentially a red-meat-and-junk-food-etarian, and if there was one nice thing I was going to do for my body, it would be avoiding the spirits.

But honestly, when you're a college freshman, who cares about the excuses? It's bad for you, it impairs your judgment, it's illegal. Truth is, my bullshitting lying cunt of an elementary school health teacher told us that you might be an alcoholic and not even know it, and you might throw away all your money on booze before going on to harder drugs like pot and smack and crack, and your family would disown you and your friends would hate you and the cops would arrest you, and then you'd die in prison and the temperance union ladies would come and piss on your grave. Same thing would happen if some mean fifth-grader offered you cigarettes in the playground and you smoked once. And she showed us that picture you've all seen of the healthy liver on the left and the cirrhosis-rotted liver on the right, and there was that Lifetime movie about the kid who gets his driver's license, threw a party with all his friends and the devil's beverage, and then drove home and ran over a family of missionaries. This was back in the days when the philosophy of our educational system was based around a complete lack of respect for the students' intelligence, and no one had the gall to tell me the, ahem, truth.

They still don't. Last year, my mom freaked out when I told her I hadn't smoked pot. Then she gave me a pamplet from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. When I asked my doctor about for some facts about the dangers or lack thereof from marijuana, he looked at me as if I told him I was thinking about experimenting with cannibalism before telling me, "Don't do that." I think I would have gotten a more frank answer had I asked him about the benefits of urine therapy. I guess there's a certain wussiness factor at work here, too — the same trepidation keeping from haphazardly putting things such as booze, acid, and wasabi into my body — otherwise I'd just yell at my poor pediatrician, "I'm trying to make some informed decisions here. Do you want me to make uninformed decisions? Would that be healthier for me?" I hate people.

Back to the alcohol, ever since Sarah and company took me to The West End last year and found out that I was too abstinent (read "scared") to drink anything stronger than water, it's been a pet project of just about everyone I know to take me out for my first drink. It just never happened. The closest we got was a bottle of cooking wine in Erica's room before those more experienced than me decided that wasn't the way to start me out on my new career as a dipsomaniac. Sarah's suggestion, after I listed all the things I wouldn't drink — nothing carbonated, nothing fruity, and, had I known, nothing blue — was a White Russian: vodka, kaluha, and milk. Sounds delicious.

Meanwhile, hoping to not be totally pathetic, I was experimenting with, groan, my dad. Had a sip of his beer last Halloween; tasted like lawn fertilizer, only more bitter. Took fifteen minutes and three packets of soy sauce to get the taste out of my mouth. Tried white wine, Lord knows what kind, on Thanksgiving; tasted like lawn fertilizer, only sweeter. Neither time, I got drunk, so things were looking good for me not being an alcoholic and not so good for my bullshitting lying cunt health teacher.

So last night, me and my ad hoc friends Rian, Rachelle, and Uma went to the Amsterdam Cafe, or "Am Caf" if you're lazy, for drinks. Rian invited me around seven, they spent the next four hours at the Varsity Show, and I spent the next four hours teaching myself about mixed drinks. They all have such telling names: there's a Borrowed Rum, and Kamakaze, and Liver Rot, and Hey Whose Bed Is This. Rian, Rachelle and Uma are all neuroscience majors, so I figured if they didn't care about fucking up their brains, then neither would I. See there, bullshiting lying cunt health-ed teacher — three real-life almost graduated twenty-one-or-two-year-olds who think you're full of, um, bullshit and who know more about brains than you do! I guess another thing keeping me from drinking was the whole bar atmosphere, by which I mean the West End. The West End is crowded enough to make the fire inspector freak and it has about the same cheerful lighting as a movie theater. My guess is that it's crowded with ugly people, which is why they keep the lights down. Also, the crappy music is really loud in there, presumably because your friends don't have any interesting conversation worth making anyway, and hence suck ass. They would probably make good plutonium miners. People at Am Caf were slightly more attractive, but evidently no more conversational, considering the music volume.

Stupid question: how the hell am I supposed to pick up chicks if they can't hear me?

So there I was, me, my inhibitions, my itchy, gnawing temperance, and a beverage list. No carbonated nothing, no fruity stuff... but I can't say I've ever had a blue drink before. Besides, it's an Electric Iced Tea, and on what planet is iced tea blue? And I order. Twice. The waitress can't hear me first time. I wonder why. We're waiting for our drinks. Uma says something. I nod politely. Low talker. Rachelle's done with her MCAT. Good for her. That sounds stupid. Don't say stupid shit. Uma: "I want a Sex in the Library." Rachelle: "You like having sex in the library." Uma: "Shut up!" Jay: "That's what you get for making a pun." Uma: "What?" Jay: "That's what you get for making a pun." Uma: "What?" Low talker. Goddamn bass line. Where's the drinks?

And there they are. And mine's, well, you know. But I figure, what the hell, I paid eight bucks for this mutant drink and no one in the real world is quite as understanding as they are in public service advertisements. So I sip the stuff, and wait to see if it'll kill me like my bullshitting etc. teacher said it would. It didn't. And it tasted.... well, not like lawn fertilizer. It was kind of bitter, like unsweetened iced tea, and then it became really pungent. Caustically, bitingly pungent. Imagine a blue version of Nyquil.

So, the prediction was that I'd either lose my inhibitions (that's Erica's idea) or I'd be rushed to the hospital from some horrible interaction between alcohol and Paxil (that's my idea). I guess what transpired was a bit closer to Erica's prediction. I talked more than usual, worried less than usual, but since I only drank about an eighth of a glass of that nasty comb-wash stuff, I'm not sure that the alcohol was the cause. Still, Erica should be a sibyl when she grows up.

It's just, here's what I don't understand. So beer tastes nasty and wine tastes nasty and Electric Iced Teas taste nasty. (Rachelle concurred with me on that last one, so it's not like I'm a complete abberation.) So what the hell is compelling people to go out drinking? If you just want to get drunk, there's always 180 proof Nyquil. And if you want a refreshing beverage, get one that, I don't know, doesn't make you want to vomit. Nobody agrees. I feel so alone. It's like fifteen years ago, being at a birthday party for one of my eight-year-old friends, and not drinking any soda because, goddammit, carbonation burns your throat! (Not as bad as Electric Iced Teas burn your throat, though.) But here, it's worse. Everybody else is an adult — a semi-mature adult, at best — and I'm a little kid with my sippy-cup full of chocolate milk. And you see, if I ramble like this when I'm sober, imagine when I actually am inebriated.

Anyway, there's thirty-three days left to try pot. Then my college experience will be complete.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Someone stole my umbrella. And then they replaced it with a different, nicer umbrella. Which I lost.

Who the hell does that? Either a lousy thief or a total asshole.

Friday, April 9, 2004

I hold you all responsible for Fox cancelling Wonderfalls, which was one of the smartest, funniest, most worthwhile shows on network television. But of course, you were all too busy with your Friday night movies and dates and getting drunk to care.... All I can say is God help me if anything happens to Arrested Development.

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Every election year, we hear the insipid talking head commentary on the network news: this is going to be the worst election year for mudslinging ever. And maybe it's true. Maybe every four years, those Madison Avenue slicksters come up with new and better and more creative invective for the Joe Bag-o'-Donuts morons who comprise this country to swallow. Four years ago, it was "Gore will raise your taxes;" this year, it will probably be something like "Kerry will eat your children."

I used to think that was bad until I took my Classical Traditions course, which is ostensibly a survey of ancient Greek and Roman literary genres but inevitably devolves into a course about homoeroticism. You see, when the Greeks invented democracy, they hadn't really worked all the kinks out, and it wasn't long before orators and demagogues started taking advantage of the cultural flaws in the system in order to get every Theocritus Bag-'o-Donuts to vote their way.

Case in point: Demosthenes and Aeschines. Alexander the Great has been conquering Greece and he's at Athens's doorstep, and the Athenian denizens need to decide whether they should pay tribute to Alexander. Demosthenes is in the forum arguing that the Athenians should declare war on Alexander, while Aeschines's argument is, "Demosthenes is gay. Let me list the ways in which Demosthenes is gay." To which Demosthenes replies, in front of the entire Athenian populace, "Don't you all think Aeschines is a little too straight?"

In case you were wondering, Demosthenes wins the argument.

And then nobody compares to Cicero when it comes to character assassination. From his Pro Caelio, defending Marcus Caelius on charges of conspiracy — Cicero argues that his archrival's slutty sister Clodia entrapped young, innocuous Caelius — "I would argue this case with vigor if not for the animosity I have with that woman's husband... oh, excuse me, I meant brother. I'm always making that mistake."

Wednesday, April 7, 2004


You know, when I started this blog a whole three weeks ago, I figured I'd have something to talk about at least every other day. Well, it turned out I was wrong. Life is banal and hardly worth sharing. Sorry.