Well, it’s October, which means that despite your beloved Wilton High School seniors’ best efforts, the ever-anticipated early decision deadline is rapidly approaching. College tours, the common application, acceptance, SAT scores, the FAFSA, are not new, foreign concepts, however. The phrase, “do it — it’ll look good on college apps” has been in the daily vernacular since middle school. Wilton has prepared us well. Trust me, we’re all sick of being politely asked, “so you must be looking at schools now? Where are you looking? What’s your top school? City or rural? You really think you’ll get in?” by peers, relatives and strangers alike. So in the spirit of college application time, classic suburban teen angst, and “getting to know” this Warrior Words columnist, I figured I’d share a college essay draft of mine, written two years ago and quickly rejected by my father under the critique that it was “wrong on multiple levels.”
The prompt was something along the lines of “write page 256 of your 400-page future memoir.”
“But that event, that single episode, defined what was left of my life at that point, creating my final meltdown that forced me to acknowledge my mid-life crisis. I was a sheep. Just like everyone surrounding me, my life was dictated by money. I lived the life that I swore I never would in my youth: my million-dollar home in the ’burbs laughed, gossiping about the pitiful affairs of the neighbors, the BMW winked at me corruptly, my mahogany desk in the office building in the city threatened me with contracts and obligations and numbers to do the work it held tightly in its hand, work that I didn’t believe in. Society had silenced my eternal questioning, shoved me into the complacency that had plagued my teen nightmares.
“The meltdown took me back to my teenage spirit. I remembered the final days of the Gridlock Revolts: leading protests against Congress to establish a more efficient party system, an idea that had brewed since I saw Mandela at age 15 (page 30), the family reunion of ’12, when I swore I’d never grow old and sad (page 2), my first job working for the Man (page 4), the day I quit that job because I was working for the Man (also page 4). And look what I had become.
“I swept up the aforementioned life-size ceramic cow (page 185) that Esmerelda had hurled across the room — I thought it was trendy and interesting just a few days ago, now decided it was ugly, creepy and could barely be described as art. I looked down at my cat Mittens, who was staring up at me with such understanding eyes. I felt immediately apologetic for burdening him with the overused cliché of a cat name. Mittens. From then on he would be referred to as King of Cantaloupe Blossoms — much more fitting.
“‘Never again will I live according to society’s rules,’ I murmured to myself as I took King of Cantaloupe Blossoms in my arms and drove to Vegas. We were married that night. I understand that’s probably why you bought this book, and let me tell you it was …” (page ends).”