I got through my undergrad with a respectable GPA that also reflected how little I cared about any classes outside my degree and how much I loved napping and binge drinking. I’m keeping a 4.0 in my Masters program, and I think I’m decent at my job. My course evaluations were nice enough that I started to feel uncomfortable reading them–luckily, one kid said they felt like I was a little disorganized, and that dose of reality keeps me balanced. I meowed at my cat, and she meowed back. I mention all these grand achievements–the cat thing is equal in importance to the professional and academic stuff–because despite it all, I am still a bit of an embarrassment. I am not proud, but I have ample reason for that.
For example, all the high grades in the world cannot erase from history the time a guest of my landlady saw me lying on the kitchen floor, groaning, in only my underwear, while listening to the soundtrack from Tron: Legacy, at midnight. Take a moment and soak in each individual shameful facet of that image: a grown adult, completely sober, lying on a kitchen floor late into the night, and this person is listening to the soundtrack from a movie with a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, a film I can best describe as beautiful if you’re on mind-altering substances. I do not remember why I was groaning. Maybe my subconscious had taken control of my voice and was reacting to what my conscious self didn’t realize was a disgusting display. Maybe I was just caught in a vortex of existential dread. There’s no way to tell. All I know for certain is that it was around midnight, and I was on the floor, and someone walked through the door, and we made equally embarrassing yelps of distress.
If not for the internet, I never would have known how common it is for people to be kept up at night by the ghosts of their social screw ups. It’s nice to know I’m in good company. I have a new incident that has kept me up recently, and it will likely haunt me until I’m a self-loathing skeleton buried in a park somewhere. This one act could single-handedly undermine all the pride I should be feeling from every good deed I’ve ever done.
I’m not much of a shower-singer. I don’t often have the inclination to put on a soapy concert for my shampoo. However, I’ve only recently fully understood the compulsion to break out in song while seemingly alone. I’ve been singing while riding my bike to work, which makes me sound more like a Disney princess than I’m completely comfortable with, but what can I do. I don’t know the name of the song I’ve been belting out on my way to work, and I don’t care to research it, and I only know a few lines. It goes like this “Lollipop lollipop oh lolli lollipop, lollipop budum dum dum dum.” It hurt to write that. It hurt even more that apparently several cyclists were behind me for miles, and they heard every word of my little concert. When I finally stopped at a light, they rode up behind me. The only place they could have joined me on that road was at least 2 miles back. They’d heard everything. They heard me singing it to the prairie dogs. They heard me do it in different voices. They heard me try to rap it. They heard me repeat those few lines for at least 10 minutes. They scooted by me, and nobody said a word. My only consolation is that they didn’t hear me sing it as I go over the railroad tracks because I like to synchronize the “budum dum dum dum” part with the bumps from the track, and that is both the real gem of my artistic repertoire and the most shameful thing I’ve ever done in semi-public.
These are but two moments in a lifetime absolutely filled with similarly shameful acts. I don’t put any conscious effort into being the comic relief character of the world, but that’s the way life seems to be going. However, there are a few good things I can pull from the giggling corpse of my reputation. I can’t exactly take myself seriously anymore which is a real time-saver. When it comes to going out in public, I can get away with a lot because I’m rapidly transforming to the town bozo–every town has one, and some cities have a union for them. And the greatest consolation of all is that I get so much more work done now that I can never sleep again; the screams of my dying ego are simply too loud to sleep through.