America’s Premier Cultural Export:
per a Zurich contemporary hi-fi store.
(I was pretty pleased by this, clearly.)
The first time I slept away from both home and family was a Model U.N. in Hershey, PA. My best friend got exceedingly intoxicated and I was terrified of her aspirating on her own vomit after she passed out so I stayed up all night watching her breathing for anomalies and quietly singing this collection to myself. We had it on cassettes, but I didn’t have them with me; that is just how ingrained it was.
Wait, that is false.
We were a strict “no sleepovers” family, so the first time that I was really away from home was “Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week” in Lycoming, PA. I couldn’t sleep for several days in the little dorm room with a stranger, but then one afternoon I sat down on a couch in the room between an arcade and a cafeteria and when I woke up, there was a meeting of—I shit you not—the PA State Dairy Princess association going on literally around me. They all had pins with the “REAL” milk logo on them. They were pretty, as one might imagine a gang of county princesses to be—though I didn’t know they had such formal titles at the time—and it was terrifying to be so vulnerably surrounded so I got up and ran. I had never liked any milk (my mother brings this up occasionally, still taking unnecessary personal offense), and I openly hated the milk flavor up until grad school; then I was briefly okay with it as a cheap source of protein; then I competitively drank a gallon of it with a housemate; then, as if there were a weird “straw that broke the camel’s back” kind of situation, onward milk consumption has been met with acute pains and other downstream gastrointestinal terror.
I still don’t like being the focal point in any situation. I forget what exactly I was watching that involved weddings last week, but I remember the distinct thought that the bride walking in process seemed excruciating and if I were ever in such shoes, and had to do such a thing in public view of a lot of people who knew me, there would surely be smoke bombs or something involved. Some distraction. Not in a racist way, but some manner of ninja-bride scenario. That was the phrase that I wrote down. I can get up in front of a room and teach or give talks or trainings or whatever and it isn’t terrible, but focused attention on a story, pedagogical or otherwise, is so much different. Relative pulchritude aside, that comfort is most certainly what the princesses had over me. Surely this is at the root of my unseemly interests in ventriloquism and prestidigitation.* This has been a good session.
Model U.N. was the second time away. I sold so many position papers that year. And stole so many cokes. The delegation went home with 109, which I decided to stick with as it was our room number and seemed an auspicious stopping point as we were drinking 2 at the time and I’ve always liked a repdigital number. We used them for meetings for the rest of the year. On one hand, it is tough to argue with money for nothing, but stealing free things is kinda shameful. But, that was my angle on youthful shenanigans. (I was told that I could not be convicted on this side of a degree. I’m not, in this moment, sure that is true, but like most sung lies, it is a pleasant enough sentiment.)
Last night was the first night since that first week in September that I did not sleep in a bed, so I guess I am restarting the grown-up habit clock. I’d blame the lag or the mucus or the fever, but I am pretty sure I knew exactly what I was doing when I brought the blankets out to the living room.
* Illa nunquam sola est qui est magister ventriloquism.