Mostly rambles, few brambles
Career Aptitude Test
Even staying medium-cool in high school is hard work. Every day requires a hyper vigilance to insulate yourself from the embarrassing, from suppressing every fart to the point of sweating profusely to actively demonstrating how little you care about everything. Any narrative, though, will get twisted. Classmates capitalize like jackals. More details about nakedness, tears, and puke emerge and soon the storyteller’s own tepid, vain brand of medium-cool stock starts to soar.
Per every social-climbing witness, my question that day in the computer lab came out as bleating and sow-like. I don’t think I have a weird voice, but this alleged barnyard-ian inquiry occurred during the career aptitude test. Already aware of the many safety nets built into my life and my demographic, I’d been surfing through the assignment with the appropriate amount of detached apathy towards my future. Body language that screamed, albeit a touch contrived, “I don’t care about work; but, I mean, are you saying there’s gonna be girls there?”
The testing company guy limped over in his rumpled button-down, to say nothing of my J. Crew polo and snow white Nikes. His whiny voice pieced through the computer-lab quiet. “Well, now,” his unapologetic goofiness so over-the-top that it actually registered as a little cool, “can’t say I’ve seen this before.” Without protest, he accepted my result. No part of him would entertain a potential malfunction or error on behalf of this, apparently infallible, computer program. I sensed I’d made a mistake by raising my hand. I could have shown no emotion, said nothing, and repressed everything. I could have turned off the computer and reported something regular to our teacher: “Accountant,” “Junior Accountant,” “Clerk of Accounting Sciences.” This guy, though, was piqued. Mostly, his job was throwing salary and life-satisfaction data at seventeen-year-olds in an attempt to dissuade creative types, but today had been different. My ears and face started to simmer and I felt a bead of non-fart-suppressing sweat trickle down the side of my torso. Not enough to overpower my Harambe-brand body spray, but it would’ve been unsightly if I’d been wearing my pressed Brooks Brothers. “Son, how exactly,” he stifled a laugh. “How exactly did you answer the questions? How is your only career match ‘Truffle Hunting Pig?’”
The din of keyboard and mouse clicks immediately died and I felt a stab of nausea. The guy pressed and asked if I was a good smeller. He seemed curious, though there was also a little twinkle in his eye, some former high-school untouchable finally on higher ground and able to twist the knife on one of the medium-popular kids. Everyone was laughing. Incredulous eyebrows were all fully popped. If you hear the story from anyone there, they’ll claim I started tantruming, threatening to involve lawyers and bring about slander charges, but actually I only texted Father, who does practice law, and I didn’t really sob that much.
“Pig Boy” circulated the halls as if it was the catchiest jingle in the history of the world. People don’t forget “Pig Boy,” and I was no exception. That afternoon I turned in my science homework and Mr. Cooper threw his hands up, “Easy, no truffles here!” The class ate up his smug, young-attractive-teacher schtick. I didn’t know how he even would have heard about it, apparently, though, it was trending on the group text that all the teachers talk shit on.
I had thought it was odd that the test had ended with so many questions about smells. Asking if I preferred “earthy” odors versus “dry and crisp” odors, I had figured myself for an aroma therapist or sommelier, but there was no second place listed. The system determined that I could only be successful at foraging through temperate forests and while obeying a length of leash.
“Doritos and fries, Pig Boy?” Tommy Abraham, of the medium-popular caste prodded the following day, delighting the lunch line.
“Fuck you; you got ‘Magician’,” I smirked, trying to overpower the chuckles of the two high-popular girls with him.
“Magician?” He said, coy, “you mean a job typically held by a person, a human being?” The girls laughed harder, nearly doubling and trying to stop themselves from spilling anything from their trays onto their Tory Burch. “No, you’re right. Pig could mean a guy. A fat—um—glutton!” His face lit up at being able to use an SAT Prep Word. “You know, the Doritos-and-fries type.”
I stomped off. Tommy probably ate whatever he wanted and made out with both of them.
There are no second acts in American lives. Someone probably important said this, and you can consult my yearbook or therapist if you need further proof.
Quitting this school for my senior year to take Father up on his private school offer was an option. Leaving, though, would admit defeat, and I wasn’t going to let these outlet-mall-shopping knaves win. And so I returned in the fall, thrashing through adversity and defying stereotypes about pigs and the less popular.
I know your fine institution, Brownhouser College, is looking for academic excellence as well as persevering character and I do believe I now fit that paradigm. Ultimately, I’m eyeing your law school—in the meantime, though, I’m hoping to major in political science, with maybe a minor in grit.