The man is bullwhip lean – roughly 115 pounds, 20 if he’s lucky, of middle-aged derision culminating in a lousy haircut and pocket protector lodged in his shirt’s breast pocket. The kid, by contrast, is a tubby dollop of flesh, pink and soft, and looks like he’s in for the beating of his life.
“What do you want to do with your life?” The man screams at the kid from across the classroom, his voice too big and deep for his body.
The kid, his eyes two chocolate chips set in set in his uncooked cookie dough of a face, replies back.
“I wanna rock.”
But it’s not his voice. It’s the screaming, loud, I-don’t-give-a-damn-and-you-can’t-make-me voice of Dee Snyder, the gender-bending lead singer for Twisted Sister.
With only four weeks and counting left to go before graduation, hundreds of seniors have a nasty little teacher inside their heads, asking them that same, nasty question. Sometimes it’s verbalized by family, “So have you found a job yet?” or friends, “So what do you plan to do after graduation?” Your parents tell you that you could always move back home, and the idea is tempting. But then you imagine mom, cheery as ever, cooking breakfast in the morning for the guy you met at the bar the night before and decided to bring home. You realize that Tom Wolfe was right: You can never go home again – at least, not after college.
Seniors have to come ask each other the million-dollar question with a sly sense of sarcasm or try to avoid it all together, sick of the feeling that in 4 weeks and counting they will cease to exist. Poof. Gone from the face of the Earth. Disappeared into a world of middle management, name tags and cubicles.
Some soon-to-be grads feel they can escape into graduate school for a few years, holding on to academic shelter for another two to eight years. Little do they know that the majority of graduate students – not all, but a majority – have forgotten how to have fun. These people look back with horror and self-loathing on the time they played air guitar, windmill fashion, while jumping off of dorm room beds. They feel the world has cheated them if they can’t drop the words “hegemony” and “didactic” into a casual barroom conversation.
These people think identity politics are fun to talk about.
This leaves the rest of us, struggling to care about school while trying to inject a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll into our lives before it comes time to, God, become adults, before we have a nice, neat answer to the 115-pound weakling teacher voice in our heads.
But screw the teacher – it’s the little, chubby Dee Snyder kid we should all listen to. We may be the Nirvana generation, but Kurt Cobain is dead. Let’s have none of this post-World War II German cinema angst. Let’s rock.
My sister has a great plan for the more adventurous types. Grab yourself a work visa and head to Australia. The woman with a business degree and half a master’s in accounting is currently chewing on kangaroo jerky and dreams of working as a ski-lift worker in New Zealand. A former co-worker is now tooling around somewhere in Southeast Asia, visiting the temples of Angkor Wat and smoking spliffs to his heart’s content.
For the not so adventurous types, keep this in mind: The current fiscal crisis, (read: lousy job market) means that trying to find secure employment will be as hard as chasing after that dream job. Movie star. Writer. Opening your own business. If you’re unwilling to chase your dream when times are bad, then maybe it was never really a dream but a pointless stab of icy envy.
Four weeks and counting, folks. For once in your life, listen to the fat kid.
Steven Ruszczycky is the Daily Nexus opinion editor.