Friday, December 03, 2004

My College Regrets

This is an unedited version of an article that was submitted to Bowdoin College's No Reply Magazine:

My Biggest College Regrets

When I am not watching the Maury Povich Show or eating tubes of cookie dough (or rhyming for no reason), I’ve spent the last few months of my life reflecting on four years of college. What would I have changed? What would I have done differently? So when Sean Turley asked me to contribute to this month’s No Reply, I decided to take this as another opportunity to be both self-indulgent and…umm…ok, just self-indulgent.

1. Not being a proctor.

I would have been the most awesome proctor ever! Me and my proctees would set up tents and go camping on the quad on weekends. We’d create our own language consisting of clicks and hand gestures. We’d eat candy for breakfast, brunch, and lunch…along with a sensible dinner.

I imagine myself having weekly meetings where I would try out new jokes. They’d love me for involving them in this sacred process, and would probably give me terrible joke suggestions:

“Have you ever noticed there are no spoons at Thorne? What’s that about?”

“Why does the Bowdoin Polar Bear have to be white?”

“What’s the deal with bumble bees? They’re so small, but I’m scared to death of them.”

I’d also let the kids advertise for all my comedy shows, and take turns holding cue cards. I ALONE WOULD BE THEIR ALL-ENCOMPASSING BOWDOIN EXPERIENCE.

I’m sure I’d have to deal with lots of people having crushes on me, but I’d immediately have to put an end to that. Proctors need to be responsible and make sensible decisions. Plus, I'd lose my job if I hooked up with my kids! (Though, at the same time, who cares if I got fired? I could have worn a t-shirt that said “I was a Bowdoin College Proctor and all I got was this stupid t-shirt…and some ass.” It would have been hilarious.)

Oh, I forgot to mention that I’m also a really great listener!

2. Not telling Elaine from Thorne Dining Hall that I loved her.

Elaine was definitely the most stable figure in my life during those tumultuous college years. She was always there to greet me with a smile, or a head nod, or sometimes to ignore me completely…but I knew she cared. Always quick-witted and sharp as a tack, I enjoyed watching her scold people for doing something inappropriate…or for doing something perfectly reasonable, like asking what the entrees were for the night. It really didn’t matter. Elaine gives Thorne Dining Hall a personality, and when she retires I think a statue in her likeness should be erected.

I know the Moulton dining hall people may disagree with me because they have their own idols and ways of life. I understand this because I have always believed myself to be a Moulton person at heart. Moulton is Bowdoin dining services’ equivalent to small town America. Thorne is definitely the big city. Too many faceless, nameless cliques. Elaine, however, stands out in this mess of humanity and should, therefore, be honored.

Oh, how I wish I confessed my love for her and begged her to stop smoking. “It’s bad for you, and if it’s bad for you, it’s bad for everyone at Bowdoin. I know I never had the guts to introduce myself to you, but I thought you were awesome.” A definite regret.

3. Taking “The Amazing Brain.”

“The Amazing Brain” is usually the class I describe when I try to give an example of the mismanagement of one’s education. It was offered my second semester freshmen year to non-Science majors to meet their distribution requirements. These classes are generally not known to be very tough, and so I took this class with a bunch of my friends.

I should have guessed from the title of the class that it was going to suck. It was not called ““Basic Neurology,” but “The Amazing Brain.” A title that would make one assume that Elmo was teaching the course, and not a certified Biology professor. When I think about all the classes I wish I had taken instead of the “Amazing Brain,” and the fact I allowed my parents to pay for a class where I learned nothing, I wince.

You might be wondering why I am not describing what I learned. Well, the class was so terrible I don’t actually remember anything I learned. In fact, I’m not sure whether I learned anything at all.

I do remember two things:

1) The final exam was essentially a photocopy of the review sheet we got in class two days earlier. I finished it in 20 minutes. The extra credit question was to name one thing we learned in class that semester. That, by far, was the toughest question on the exam. I wrote something about the medulla that I learned in 7th grade Bio. I got a 105 on the test.

2) We had to give final poster or power point presentations on one aspect of the brain. (I don’t remember what my topic was, but it was probably something about how the brain is used for thinking about stuff.) One classmate of mine, who will not be named, decided to give a poster presentation about the inner ear. It kind of related to the human brain, but he never really tried to make the connection. In fact, mid-way through the presentation, he admitted that he was not prepared to present that day. This fact did not really shock anyone since his poster was done in pencil, and on the back of a Bowdoin Blood Drive sign he must have ripped off the wall in the Union. Absolutely disgraceful! Rumor has it that he got the only A- in the class. This was before the plus/minus system returned to Bowdoin, so that meant he also got an A.

If I don’t get into grad school, we’ll all know why.

4. Never having sex in the H & L Stacks.

“Hey kid, you in college? Here’s some advice: Make sure you bang as many chicks as possible.”

These wise words were said to me by a New York City police officer during a summer internship with the Queens District Attorney’s office. NYPD officers are, of course, known for their tact, rational thinking, and their ability to not kill unarmed minorities. I was so happy that the third condition was met, that I did not worry too much about the first two.

His point was well-taken, but lacked the answer to a key question. Where should I bang these chicks?

I always thought having sex in the stacks of the Hawthorne and Longfellow library would be pretty awesome. Ah, to eat the forbidden fruit in a forbidden place. A place where we are supposed to study, not fornicate. How hot would that be? Having sex in the middle of all those old books written by all those dead guys whose ghosts probably still haunt the place. I think it is pretty damn kinky to let ghosts watch you do it.

But alas, I never had the opportunity to have sex in the stacks. Or in The Tower elevators. Or on the Bowdoin decal in the union. Or while making a salad in the dining hall.

Or ever…I am a virgin.

In other words, my conversation with MTV News’ Gideon Yago would have been pretty awkward.

Gideon Yago: Do you always wear a condom during sex?

Hari: I’m a virgin…so no.

Gideon Yago: Well, don’t be down. The safest sex is no sex.

Hari: Yes, but if you engage in the safest sex, and there’s no one there to have sex with, is it really sex at all?

Gideon Yago: What? That’s a terrible attempt to be Zen.

Hari: Yeah, well your wardrobe is a terrible attempt to be Rivers Cuomo.

Gideon Yago: Touche.

Many people I’m sure are curious why a funny, sexy, eligible bachelor like myself has stayed celibate for so long. Well, my friends, I think its time to reveal a very closely guarded secret, right here in No Reply Magazine:

The government is paying me NOT to have sex. You see, I am currently the NUMBER ONE supplier of clean, disease-free blood in the United States. I have been told that in this day and age, with so much sexual activity, blood as clean as mine has not been seen since the late 1800s. Apparently, the only other possible American sources are members of the Christian Right…but getting blood from them is damn-near impossible since they see needles and doctors as instruments of witchcraft.

So just like how American farmers are subsidized NOT to grow corn, I am paid NOT to have sexual relations. Particularly during this time of war, I have become very valuable and am therefore, compensated well. It’s been rough, but it’s also been a living.

But no more, dammit! I’m no longer willing to live my life this way in order to help fight a war I do not believe in. No money is worth this torture.

Ladies…I’m all yours.

5. Writing Regret # 4 for this stupid list.

All the respect I earned in the Bowdoin College Women’s Studies department down the drain because I wanted to make some easy sex jokes. For shame! I wonder what Professors Scanlon and Ghodsee think of me now? I can imagine what they might say: “Hari, I am so disappointed in you! I’m so surprised you would write that…you’re still a virgin?”

6. Writing Regrets #4 and #5

I am NOT this pathetic in real life. I just really enjoy this “lovable loser/ curmudgeon” character that I have created. However, I must admit that the “virgin” jokes are getting quite stale now, and I’m starting to realize that I have been extremely misdirected. I mean, lets be honest here about why I got into comedy. Sure, it was a stress relief, and a way for me to express myself, but most importantly…it was supposed to be a way to meet girls. Unfortunately, I have learned that what girls really like are guys with self-esteem or, at least, the illusion of self-esteem. Therefore, my loser-virgin jokes have, in fact, backfired on me and made me less attractive.

Perhaps the last four years would have been better spent learning to play the guitar and making each of my abdominal muscles distinct and visible entities. In addition, I regret not dancing more. As Henry Laurence used to tell me “Girls like to dance, Hari. If you dance, girls will like you.”

7. Never following through on my “Unathletic Decathlon” idea.

This may surprise some of you, but I am not a very athletic man. Sure, I played 3 C-League intramural basketball games my freshman year, and 1 C-League Softball game senior year (and hit a 3 run homerun!), and then helped start the Bowdoin Ping Pong Club (I ranked 15th in 2004)…but I really only accomplished these feats with “heart” and “intangibles”…not with any actual athletic skill.

With this in mind, late last year I started designing a competition tentatively called the “Unathletic Decathlon.” The requirements to participate include never having been on a varsity sports team, and only playing in intramurals at the C-level. We’re not talking about the cream of the crop here, but the part of the crop that the locusts got to.

There would be 10 events: Darts, Candlepin Bowling, Frisbee Golf, a wiffleball home run derby, pie-eating contest, pinball, and other skills that people who preferred playing video games instead of Little League baseball or Peewee soccer might excel at. It’s our time to have some glory!

8. Never making my own omelet.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hari, you're freak'n hilarious. I'm sitting here working at the res life office and cracking up. Keep posting this stuff, its so entertaining. I just copied "my college regrets" and forwarded it to my buddies. I'll be sure to spread the word about you and have them visit the site. Hope to see you if you come to Bowdoin in April! Liz Mengesha

10:59 AM  

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