By Richard Black of The Unfit Father
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy college. I probably enjoyed the experience quite a bit. I say “probably” because I don’t remember much from that time in my life. In addition to a thirst for knowledge, I also developed a thirst for large amounts of alcohol, and while I’m using sensory metaphors, I should also mention that I found a taste for illicit pharmaceuticals.
In addition to a remarkably mediocre grade point average, these habits also endowed me with a more or less constant look of confusion that implies that I can’t remember where I’ve put my keys.
I’m not saying that attending college was the worst decision I’ve ever made. My past can largely be construed as a cautionary tale for others. There was this time in Thailand when I met this girl who turned out to be…well, that’s another story but, trust me, it was a mistake.
I’ve made some questionable decisions in my past. Saddling myself with an English Composition degree ranks somewhere between “The Thailand Incident,” a brief tryst I had with a woman my friends dubbed “Susie Stabby,” and the purchase of a 1993 Ford Probe in my spectrum of poor life choices.
When I think about it, I actually learned quite a bit in college. I minored in Latin American history and can hold my own in any conversation involving Guatemalan politics during the years of 1990 and 1993. My major afforded me with the ability to speak relatively intelligently on great works like Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, The Sound and the Fury, and many other literary masterpieces I only had the fortitude to read for twenty pages.
After graduating, I discovered that a degree in English Composition was about as useful as one would imagine when seeking gainful employment. I searched for employment the better part of a year before I found a job with a large brokerage firm, editing financial reports. The position could have been filled by a fairly bright twelve-year old or a really stupid eighth grader with a heavy addiction to cough syrup. Instead, they hired me, a 22-year-old college graduate who would soon come to hate the written word with a fearsome passion.
My tenure in college did provide me with one trait valued in the corporate world. It turns out that learning how to drink is a commodity valued as much as, or even more than, a liberal arts degree. Holding one’s liquor during a happy hour is vital in corporate culture. On more than one occasion, I saw my peers have a few too many and wax poetic about their sexual proclivities to the bemusement and occasional horror of their superiors.
Other than a propensity for putting away large amounts of booze, I was ready to chalk up my collegiate experience as one of the many events I’d undergone that had no real practical value.
And then I had a child.
The school I attended was 85% Greek and, as such, I joined a fraternity. I lived in the dorms as a freshman, which was an eye opening experience, but it didn’t compare to living in a house with fifty other guys. Now, before you imagine a bunch of young men humping each other in the communal shower, I’d like to assure you that our relationships were platonic—at least that is my hope. I drank pretty heavily during that period of time. I also passed out quite a bit and lived with a lot of shady dudes, so who’s to say what happened?[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Page 2″ ]
It turns out that young men and small children are remarkably similar in terms of behavior. Both are prone to irrational outbursts of frightening intensity. Both are marginally competent when it comes to the nuances of hygiene, and the odds of either one making it to the toilet half the time are on par with Kim Kardashian winning a Nobel Prize in physics.
Both groups, college age men and small children, are capable of creating an environmental catastrophe of truly epic proportions in the span of four minutes.
Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is an area of swirling garbage the size of Texas. Scientists claim the abomination is the result of our propensity to dump vast amounts of garbage into the ocean, but I have my doubts. I’m fairly certain the entire mess began as my old fraternity and continues on to this day because of the four metric tons of trash my daughter manufactures on a daily basis.
Thanks to my collegiate experience, there is no mess my daughter can create, no gastrointestinal event so awful, no argument that is so inane, and no injury she can sustain that I haven’t seen before. The last time my daughter puked tomato risotto all over my back, I looked at her, laughed, and asked the fates, “Is that all you’ve got?”
I lived with fifty boys for three years in a house where the height of hilarity was pissing on someone in the communal shower, and it wasn’t all that strange to find a piece of feces under one’s pillow. I once woke up to find every floor in our house covered in a mixture of baked beans, vomit and Aqua Velva. There was also a decapitated pig’s head in the foyer.
Emotional pain? I’ve got it covered. My daughter has recently taken to telling me that she loves her mother so very much more so than me. Twenty five years ago, the news would have torn me to shreds. These days I barely bat an eye. During four years in college, I conservatively estimate that I was dumped about 400 times.“I love you, but I’m not in love with you,” “It’s not you it’s me,” “I don’t want to date someone who is so fat…” I’ve heard it all and come through…well, somewhat unscathed.
The upside is that I feel pretty prepared for whatever it is that my daughter chooses to dish out. If I’m wrong, I learned enough about self medicating in school to keep me pleasantly zonked until that one day in the not so distant future when my daughter goes to college.
With a little luck, she’ll get as much out of the experience as her old man.[/nextpage]
About Richard Black
Richard Black is a remarkably attractive, remarkably disease-free man in his forties. Unfortunately ladies, he’s also married. Prior to his life as a stay-at-home father, Richard spent more than a decade performing various public relations and marketing functions for a number of financial consulting firms and found the job to be precisely as exciting as it sounds. When not tending to his wife or daughter Richard enjoys writing the occasional thoughtful post on his blog The Unfit Father and subjecting the public to his…unique take of fatherhood on a more regular basis. Find Richard on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.