Friday, July 29, 2016

St John's Origin Story Part 2

I closed the first part with my job at the post office in Maine, which detail is incidental to the story, curious to me only because I had not thought about it in a long time, even though I have been back to the town numerous times since I returned to this part of the country and have surely driven past the building on several of these occasions. To move on, during this time it was suggested to me by a handful of people, including my father, that perhaps I should consider joining the army, since I gave the impression, I suppose, of being disorganized and lacking in direction and many people have the idea that the army can correct those problems in young men. Perhaps it would have done me some good, instilled in me some real discipline and purpose, though certainly the United States is full of people who appear to have come out of the army in little better condition either psychologically or as far as possessing other relevant life skills than when they entered it. I was a petulant little brat at that time, and my idea about the army was that it was akin to signing up for two years of virtual slavery, and why should I have to endure that when all of these other people had these great lives, going to college and parties and having women and so on. What had I done, that I was not as entitled to these things the way everybody else was? Admittedly this point of view was very shallow and foolish, and if one wishes to argue the case that with such an attitude I was not fit for or deserving of going to any college, I can make no defense other than to argue that colleges are full of people as weak-headed and morally objectionable as I was, some of whom even have worse academic qualifications than I did.

I became at this point quite obsessed with going to almost any college of the regular residential, sex- drugs-and-rock-and-roll variety, which obsession was reinforced by a few weekend visits to nearby schools which people I had known in high school attended (I realize now the true generosity and indulgence of these friends, whom I dropped in on completely unannounced with the full expectation that they would put me up and entertain me for several days). The threat of enforced sobriety and especially chastity scared me off from considering any super religious schools, where temperamentally I otherwise might have fit in. I reacted to my feeling of having been shunned by serious academia by abandoning any real concern about the nature and quality of the education I was supposedly seeking and devoted most of my energy in this search to what I thought would enhance my possibilities for engaging in mature (in the film-rating sense) relations with women. Though I did even at this time keep up my correspondence with St John's, as the reading list there still appealed to me, the tiny size and as it appeared unfavorable male-female ratio of the school raised the spectre that there might not be enough women around to satisfy me reliably produce any who might be interested in me (and who I would be interested in as well, though at the time I did not imagine there could be very many people left who would not fall into that category). I did not realize that when you have no demonstrated history of being desirable to women, the last thing you need to do is expand your options, because you don't have options. You need to limit the number of able competitors that you have to overcome. This point did not fully hit home with me until years afterwards, when I knew some people who worked at a residential home for mentally handicapped adults (from well-off families) in an isolated part of New Hampshire. There were about twelve people on the staff, evenly divided by sex, mostly from Germany with the rest from various of the old Communist European countries, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, etc. Every one of them that I knew of was at some point involved with one of the fellow staff members, and at least two of the couples eventually got married. But getting back to the main story, besides this concern about numbers, I figured that the girls there would be like the smart girls at my high school, many of whom were wonderful people, but likely to be too engaged with learning and taking part in constructive (self-improving) extracurricular activities and contributing to the advancement of various liberal causes for me to be easily able to connect with them, because I was not going to be engaged with these things to the same extent, mainly because I did not know how to be so, in the right way. If I was going to be able to get anyone like this it would only be, I foresaw, after a long and necessarily asexual vetting process which I did not want to go through, though of course I did not articulate it thus at the time. Instinctively I knew that my life was passing me by, that I needed some things that were quick and dirty but also exhilarating to begin happening immediately, though I had no idea how to make those things happen. I had become convinced however that the answer to my problems did not lie with the liberal smart girls who up to that point had shown little interest in me anyway, but among the more general, less intellectually conscious population of females; a population the overall mindset of which, alas, I understood even less than I did the striving liberals.

It is understandable if by now the reader is thinking that I did not need to go to college, but should have packed off for Ibiza or the Full Moon parties in Thailand until such time as I might have found some Eurotrash or licentious Australian girl, hopefully multiple ones, to carry me past this ailment that was psychologically crippling me. This would have been the ideal solution, assuming anything would ever have come about, which is a big assumption, but I knew nothing of such scenes at the time, and the affordability of such trips would have posed a bigger problem even than college did, for which at least financial aid was available. The world is very efficient at gathering the most desirable young women in a fairly limited number of scenes, which of course cuts anyone left out of those scenes off from them. When you are a nineteen year old boy/man out of college, particularly if you have a three digit IQ, the truth of this situation/arrangement of society becomes very salient to you. There seemed nothing else to be done but to go to school.

So on my second attempt at applying to college I applied almost exclusively to large universities that had some name recognition but did not seem overly difficult for me to get into, though a couple still rejected me anyway, as did as a couple of rich kid 'alternative schools' I took flyers on because the literature on them indicated that if you went there you could be the ugliest person in the world and still get laid, which the literature on St John's did not promise so explicitly. I ended up going for one semester to a large university in a state somewhat renowned for the ordinariness and boring composition of its people, full of Deadsvilles from one end to the other. I imagined this would be an ideal environment in which to rejuvenate my flagging enthusiasm for existence, because there would be hordes of simple, wholesome, cornfed babes that I as an Easterner possessed of a mind that seemed threatening to grow more overpowering every day would be able to manage...Needless to say I did not manage anybody. I have in fact never been so entirely invisible and nondescript to women while actually in the midst of them as I was there. The tiny number that even condescended to acknowledge my presence did so in a way that indicated that if I happened to possess any latent sexuality, its expression was something that was going to occur in a time and place very remote from the present scene. One day a very beautiful, polished sorority type girl made the rounds of the floor I lived on, selling cosmetics or something as an assignment for a business/marketing class. Her pitch to me was that I could get some "for my mother". It was fortunate that I did not have any money or I probably would have felt some compulsion to buy something even though the women spoke to me as if I were less than a full human, politely enough of course, but in the manner of a being on a plane of life with which the likes of me could never hope to have anything to do. I realize now that my approach to that whole experience could not have been worse. Going to classes held very little interest for me, and I devoted the greater part of my days to trying to procure alcohol, drinking alcohol, and sleeping off hangovers. I did nothing to improve my chances of meeting the kinds of people with whom I might have been compatible, partly because I did not have a good sense for what people with whom I might be compatible did for activities (judging by my subsequent experience and other pleasant, attractive, and reasonably intelligent women I have met over the years, squaredancing, hiking/camping, and other anachronistic types of fun would have served I guess). Unlike at St John's, where the overall environment is serious and comparatively elevated enough to wield some positive influence on a mind otherwise wholly given up to obsessions with drinking and women, there was no such tempering or uplifting atmosphere to lean on in this other place. Despite the circumstance of the semester's having been a complete failure on all imaginable fronts, since I did not know what else to do, I still planned, when school let out for the summer (I had started after Christmas my first year out of high school), to come back and give it another try, figuring that eventually I would have to have some luck. I still was not really that inferior, after all, though certainly I felt that I was whenever other people were around. And perhaps if I had quickly gotten a summer job, and that had gone well somehow, and things in general had started going in the direction of looking up for me, then maybe I would have returned after all--I left some favorite books and other youthful mementos, including possibly my high school running medals, in a storage box in the place where I had gone to school, which I never went back to retrieve--but that story I must leave for another section (I am now only fifteen months out from my matriculation at St John's College however...)     

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