I was walking through the Retreat, minding my own business, dreaming only of an over-priced Retreatzza with all of the Sriracha and garlic powder this world has to offer—when you blindsided me! “Guess what!” is neither an acceptable greeting, so-called friend, nor does it work as a set-up for whatever news I was supposed to be guessing about, especially when you didn’t give me a chance to make an educated guess based on the zero fucking clues or context you provided.
I’m a simple dude. Give me a jar of Nutella and a big spoon, or a glass of bourbon on the rocks, and I’ll leave you alone for the rest of your life. (I’ll wait for all my “friends” to now leave boxes of Nutella and bourbon in front of my TA doorstep.) Basically, what I’m getting at is that I don’t bother anybody, and I certainly haven’t done YOU wrong in the past. In fact, I thought we were pals. Bros. Amigos. Two grains of sea salt clinging for dear life on the underside of an under-seasoned piece of boiled chicken.
But what you’ve done is low.
Not even two seconds had passed and you just couldn’t wait to tell me the news of your recent employment. Like I’m supposed to be happy for you? Me, who has no job or future?
Second semester of senior year is a time in our lives when not only the carpet is yanked out from under our feet, but also the floor boards, the dirt and the center of the Earth, along with any form of gravity to keep us from drifting higher and higher until we plummet into the depths of the sun, where we will burst into flames, engulfed by all the uncertainty and ennui in our lives. But you knew that. Or at least I thought you did. Traitor.
I’ve given up hope that family and other adults with careers will stop asking the age-old question, “What are your plans after graduation?” and “You expect to get a job with that major?” and “Chris, dude, you’re 22, you can’t seriously expect the Tooth Fairy to leave you money under your pillow at this point, but also, you still have all your teeth, oh God, oh sweet lord, whose teeth are you stealing?”
Can’t I live?
Here’s the thing: In a few months from now, when I’m employed and no longer have to worry about how I’m going to afford my weekly supply of Lunchables, I’ll be happy for you. And, honestly, that could be as soon as tomorrow or as far off as when I’m dead, but just know: I don’t want to think about it.
And that’s really at the heart of all this, isn’t it? You telling me you have a job with a 401k plan, health insurance, a name tag and a cubicle, remind me that I have about three-and-a-half months until graduation. And just a vague sense of what I would love to happen. It also reminds me, for some strange reason, that I’ll need to make a stop at the liquor store shortly after our interaction.
None of this is to say you shouldn’t be happy. Of course you should! You got a job! And if we’re close, I’ll want to hear about your success and cheer you on. But being close means I was aware of the job search and we struggled together. Coming at me like a kangaroo bouncy-bouncy-bouncing its way out of Hell gives me the impression that your version of “I woke up like this” is “I woke up employed.” While a job popping out of thin air would be totally awesome and I’m all for it (you hear that, America?), please don’t throw it in my face like a fistful of sand.
Posting your status on Facebook is acceptable, because even if we’re unprepared to read it, we can weep silently to ourselves in the bedroom, at the library, in the Retreat over a Retreatzza or in the middle of class when we should be taking notes and not on Facebook (which, professors, if you’re reading this, you know I’d never do!) I think the Facebook status works great for both of us. You get your news out to the world, and I don’t feel personally attacked when you decide to use your words to cut me deep. If you must tell me, please warn me beforehand.
For serious, I’m only mildly freaking out. It’s not just about fear of the unknown, but fear of an education going to waste, fear of returning home, fear of disappointing everyone and fear of, well, not making money. But that’s OK, I have my own coping mechanisms. I can always depend on Nutella and bourbon.