Lies and Untruths

Gillette, Peter

I spent Sunday night near my computer with my geology book open. I was alternating between plate tectonics and an entrance essay for graduate school, because last weekend, I realized something.
You see, I am an English major, and although I am rather dense, I finally analyzed the etymological roots of the term “graduate school.” For a while, my definition has been “the logical step after undergraduate school,” or “a sensible way to delay ‘real life’ while deferring loans,” or, better yet, “one of the many terms that falls under the laudable category of ‘anywhere but Appleton.'”
Then this past weekend, as I ate and slept and ate and slept, I began to understand graduate school with a renewed clarity. I started to listen to the term “graduate school,” and I realized that I have to graduate first.
It’s a pesky thought, you know. I have never been one for advancement. I am rather certain that the only reason I passed from grade school to middle school was social promotion. It’s a wonder I moved on, really: I couldn’t even tie my shoes the correct way (to this day, I cannot go “around the tree”; I have to use the “two bunny ears” method).
Consequently, I was the only eighth grader with a Velcro pair of LA Lights. I also wore sweatpants. Fashion illiteracy was the price I paid for promotion.
High school, I was sort of ready for. In fact, I think my academic career peaked ’round about eighth grade. I always read the books – delightful reads like “The Giver” and “Johnny Tremain” – until my teacher assigned the depressing troika of Elie Wiesel’s “Night,” the classic “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and (who could forget?) the reliably glum “Flowers for Algernon.” From then on, I only read ghostwritten baseball biographies and Entertainment Weekly.
Still, though, I had enough momentum to make it into high school, where I managed to fail health and chemistry in the span of a year. But then I learned how to fake it. Late in my high school career, I discovered the skill of writing application essays.
If knowledge and talent open many doors, creative application essays – ones that attempt to transform your faults into strengths through virtuoso displays of kettle logic – jam a crowbar into the locked gate of achievement.
And so I forced my way into Lawrence via a USO show of an application that was pure magic. Seriously, if you tapped this application three times, a broken-necked goose would emerge. It was quite a phenomenon.
Lawrence, I actually began reading again and I started doing pretty well. Now, school becomes tiring and I’m running the gamut again, trying to tell the Manhattan School of Music what I’d change about the world if I could only transform one thing.
I’d probably be selfish and eliminate science. From plate tectonics to stoichiometry to the birds and the bees, I just don’t get it. But, the future notwithstanding, I suppose you can’t fake a diploma, and sometimes you’ve just got to learn.
So for now, in the words of some baseball star (as told to a washed-up journalist), I’ll try to keep my eye on the ball.