The Prodigal Student Returns: First Impressions

Posted on January 8, 2011


At dinner with my Philly friend, the night before my first class, we were talking about boys.  PF, who is lending me her spare room for the next two years, has been one of my best friends for going on 14 years.  She started her own battles with online dating and the quest for capital-L Love before I did, and we always have a lot of ground to cover.

“Being a non-drinker is even more of a dealbreaker than being a vegetarian,” she exclaimed, when I mentioned that Lieu is a teetotaler.  “I would never.  I list it right in my profile–no vegetarians, no non-drinkers, and he has to be educated.  I won’t date anyone without a college degree.”

“You wouldn’t date me?” I asked.

She paused.  PF is nothing if not frank.  “No,” she said finally.  “Based on an online profile, I wouldn’t go on a first date with you.”

Well, aside from the fact that we both date men.  Honestly–and that’s a funny way to preface this statement–I lie about my educational background online.  I elide when possible, but when that isn’t possible, I say I have a college degree.  Of course, if I actually end up dating the person, I clear it up quickly. (Telling Lieu, with his fistful of terminal degrees from amazing universities, was the first hurdle of our relationship–I was certain that he’d be appalled to be shtupping a peon like me.  His response was amazing, and I still remember it word for word, as well as the relief that flooded me when it came.)

I don’t feel bad about the lying either; after all, isn’t making sure someone has a bachelor’s degree really a socially acceptable way of marking class?  It means that you were at least middle class, or a real striver who made it happen for yourself if you’re from a less privileged background.  It means we can all share a hearty chuckle at a Vonnegut reference, or understand the phrase my freshman roommate from a common perspective.

Well, I’m of that class.  I see your Vonnegut and raise you any liberal arts trope you like.  My freshman roommates changed my life.  I make the same amount of money, and have the same level job, that I would have even if I’d finished school in the sorry state I was in during the late 90’s.  But the constant wariness I feel around my degreelessness in dating and as I begin to look for a new job has finally catapulted me back into the classroom.  If all goes according to plan, I’ll graduate in 2013, 20 years after I bid adieu to high school.  Maybe the recurring nightmare I’ve had for fifteen years in which I realize that I never officially graduated from high school and must get back to my home town and remedy that situation before anybody finds out will finally disappear.  I always wake up pissy after I spend the night subconsciously wandering the halls of my high school, wringing with anxiety, and unable to find the office I need no matter where I look.  I won’t miss that.


My first class–Persuasive Writing–was this morning.  The university’s campus is even more urban than mine was, and somehow feels nothing like a school.  Which makes the abundance of 18-year-olds milling about that much more odd.  Jesus, have you seen any college students lately?  They are children.  I can’t believe their parents let them live in a world without supervision, when they so clearly need to be reminded to do such things as change out of their pajamas and brush their hair before they leave their rooms.  Get off my lawn, you damn kids!

My professor was at least seven, if not ten, years younger than I am.  She has a nose ring.  She has an MFA, and I think she’s pregnant.

I’m the only person in class–four women, one man–who isn’t married.  Lately, I want to ask every married person I see how they found someone to marry, and why, in their opinion, I cannot.  So far, I have refrained.

For this class, I must write papers and pay special attention to following MLA guidelines.  Can I tell you how little I wish to spend my non-work time creating a properly formatted bibliography of sources for a paper about my career goals and why I am well-equipped to meet them?  Very little.  Very, very little.

I might have been the youngest person in my class, or at least, no one is significantly younger.  We have a team project for the final, and I am already sizing up my classmates as potential partners.  During the introductions portion of class, they all looked at me like I was insane when I said I’m commuting from DC.  They might be right.


Posted in: Angst, Philly, School