I have just graduated high school and I can’t go to college right away because I don’t really know what I want to do with my life right now, and my family doesn’t have money either, so what’s the point? I feel like such a loser because I’m not going. And I don’t know what I should do.
Anxiously awaiting your response,
I FEEL LIKE A BIG LOSER
DEAR BIG LOSER:
Pleased to meet you, my name is Big Loser Senior.
You shouldn’t be writing me about this. I’m not a counselor, I’m not academic. I’m not even a real writer, truth be told. I accidentally fell into the literary lifestyle on a bet.
A little about me:
I didn’t go to college until I was a grown man. I worked.
A list of my loser jobs: hanging drywall, laying tile, commercial framing, laying sod, landscaping, house painting, scooping ice cream, hanging gutter, manning a deep-fryer, schucking oysters.
Power-washing, patting hamburgers, washing dishes, playing guitar in beer-joints, and dressing up like a mascot for a car-wash grand opening—on one occasion.
My late father was a stick welder. My family is blue-collar. I come from rough stock. We don’t use college words, only four-letter ones—and improper conjunctions.
We use phrases like: “Ain’t,” and “y’all,” and “hot aw-mighty.” And: “Want in one hand, tee-tee in the other; see which one fills up first.”
So I’m not your advice man.
Here’s what I will say: when I was nine, my father discovered I liked writing. One morning, he handed me a scrap of paper. Written on it were extra-large words, in sloppy handwriting.
I can still remember each word.
They were: munificent, obtuse, loquacious, prosaic, ostentatious, soliloquy, and verbose.
“What’s this?” I asked him.
“Writers need good vocabularies,” he said. “And your old man never went to college, he’s stupid. I picked the biggest words I could find in the dictionary.”
Of course, he wasn’t stupid. He could weld column splices with his eyes closed, discuss soil salinity, and the mating habits of pecan trees.
When I attended college, I went to honor him.
On my first day, I sat in an English class. The teacher said, “Write five-hundred words on why you’re attending college.”
I wrote a thousand words about a man who used to call himself stupid. And I used a few ten-dollar words which he taught me.
So, I can’t tell you whether you should go to school. Because there is no “should.”
Neither is there is a list of rules. If there were, I wouldn’t suggest you to follow them. Because rules can take the fun out of living.
What I can tell you is that some of the happiest people I know are “losers,” just like you and me.
They live in farmhouses, work on oil rigs, cook suppers on apartment stoves, struggle to pay bills, or weld column splices.
Nevertheless, you asked for my advice. So here it is. I have a list of words I’d like you to memorize. They are:
You are not a loser.
Congratulations on graduating. Now go enjoy your life.