what’s not in the book

Today I received my class book for my upcoming ten-year Stanford reunion.  The book is a compilation of pages alumni from my graduating class made about their lives since college.  Since I am an absolute sucker for that kind of nostalgia, I tore it out of its envelope and spent the whole afternoon devouring its contents.  Nom nom nom nostalgia, you are so tasty.

After absorbing a few hundred pages of my fellow alumni, I did start to feel a bit inadequate.  After all, I had never dived the Great Barrier Reef, or built hospitals in Africa, or won an Olympic medal, or created my own start-up, or backpacked in Patagonia, or cut cancer out of grateful children.  Then I realized I was being utterly absurd.  Of course the pages would only feature the impressive achievements of seemingly well-adjusted people!  For my own page, I didn’t very well write about the two and half years of harrowing pain that had me in & out of hospitals, the surgeries, the creditors calling about medical bills, the conviction that I was slowly dying, the loneliness, the terror.  I mean, I didn’t want to be a bummer.

Once the book was closed I sat there wondering about all that was elided from those pages, about the people who didn’t send pages at all.  Then I thought how grand it would be if all the pivotal moments from people’s lives had been included, even the tawdry and painful ones.  Sentences like:

  • I destroyed my marriage when I slept with my boss.  I got promoted though.
  • Last year I finally reached my weight loss goal.  Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
  • …but after my second stint in San Quentin was when I really began to make some bad decisions.
  • This stifled suburban life makes me want to wedge a shotgun tightly under my chin and blow the back of my head off.
  • The condom broke.  I am expecting twins in August.
  • The worm they removed from my large intestine was over three feet long.
  • When my divorce finally came through, I rewarded myself by having a prostitute do all the things my wife wouldn’t.  But now that burning rash on my scrotum won’t go away no matter what I do.

But no no, I am being foolish.  Such things never happen to Stanford graduates.  We are all exemplary.  Everyone of us as beautiful and serene as the flower-heavy night wind rustling the palms on the main quad.

People who went to the Ivies though, they are fucked up.


5 responses to “what’s not in the book

  1. The smugness of those kinds of alumni updates slays me! Yes. It would be WAY better, more colorful, more AWESOME, if people just told it like it was, per your suggestions. 🙂

    • Some of the pages reminded me of your latest blog post–smug parents ahoy! I think next time we are accosted at a wedding by someone who is implying that we are not complete until we’ve reproduced, we should ask, “so when are you and your husband planning on writing a novel? I was an unrealized human with a meaningless life until I wrote my novel.”

  2. maternal unit

    Is nom nom nom French for yum yum yum?

    • French for “yum” is “miam.” I believe “nom nom nom” is an onomatopoeic rendering of the sound one makes when one is moaning in pleasure while chewing something delicious.

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