Yesterday I was unhappy with my lot in life because I had forgotten that I had promised to run the basketball scoreboard after school and my daydreams of getting home in time to talk to my family weren’t going to come true. Because I was in a bad mood I decided to make things easier to bear by spreading my version of joy and enlightenment to my colleagues and friends. One of these colleagues noted that I’m still a bit young to be so cynical and sarcastic and wondered if maybe I hadn’t been traumatized as a small child. In fact, I had a reasonably normal childhood with a caring (if overly involved) family and I have no excuse for being the way I am. As nearly as I can recall, I’ve always been an insufferable jerk.
By way of illustrating my point, I’ll tell you the story of The Great Gatsby. Most of my readers have already passed junior english class, so I know that you are probably aware that there is a novel about rich and stupid people doing rich and stupid things entitled The Great Gatsby. English teachers love this book for some reason and as a result entire generations of hapless students have had to read it.
Long time readers and close associates already know that I am not a fan of either rich or stupid people, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed reading this book. In fact, I have been known on occasion to state that I loathe this book with the white-hot burning intensity of a thousand suns.
I was forced to read The Great Gatsby in my honors junior english class by a truly heinous woman (her name will be withheld to prevent my loyal cult from hurting her). In fact, even worse than forcing us to read this book, she required us to read this book aloud in class which if possible, rendered the storyline even more trite and unappealing.
I have always been a good reader (brownie points for me!) and had already finished the chapter that my classmates were mumbling through so quite naturally I was sucking in my gut and trying to catch the attention of the red-headed girl next to me instead of paying attention to the class. Mrs. Boozer (her name has been changed to protect the drunk) of course noticed that I wasn’t paying attention and decided to ask me a question in the hopes that I would become embarrassed at being called out and settle down. (Don’t all teachers do this?)
Mrs. Boozer asked me, “What does the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock symbolize?” (This book is supposed to be renowned for its “symbolism”)
Sadly for Mrs. Boozer I actually knew the answer she wanted for this question. I knew it because she had stated it yesterday in class and while I wasn’t the most attentive student, I did possess a short-term memory slightly longer than that of a potato. I won’t go into all that here, however. If you’re really curious just find any English teacher and ask them. I’m sure that it’ll be the most enlightening 45 minutes of your life.
The answer I actually gave to Mrs. Boozer (and my class) was: “The end of Daisy’s dock.”
Mrs. Boozer: “Excuse me?”
Me: “Yes ma’am. You see it is a law in NY that all boating docks over a certain length are required to have lights on them indicating both the end of the dock and the proper right-of-way to aid boat traffic.”
Mrs. Boozer: “Are you sure that there isn’t a more symbolic significance to the dock?”
Mrs. Boozer: “I think you’re wrong. I think (insert aforementioned lecture here)”
Me: “Prove it.”
Mrs. Boozer: (nonplussed)
Me: “Fitzgerald’s dead, right? Did he leave any explanation for his works behind? Did he ever give a lecture on this book? No, he didn’t. So no one actually knows if the green light meant anything at all, do they? Personally, I think that he was just stringing words together at random and now everyone thinks it’s an amazing piece of literature.”
Mrs. Boozer: “Go to the library, young man! NOW!”
That last line is confusing unless you know that my mom worked in the library of my high school and whenever I got in trouble my teachers would send me there instead of to the office. My mom is a sweet lady, but I would have rather gotten detention.
So you can see that I have always been this way. No traumatic brain injury (that I can remember) and no horrible story of my childhood really explains why I’m a cynical and sarcastic douchapotamus; it’s just the way it is.