Not long ago in Manhattan, I was working near my open window, which is normally a nice docile entity that does not have large hostile jars of Cheez Whiz flying through it, when there came flying through it: a large hostile jar of Cheez Whiz. You hear about this sort of thing happening.* Indeed, this is just the sort of magical metropolitan wonder that lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green had in mind when they wrote the immortal words:
New York, New York,
Where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain;
There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza;
Also, a projectile jar of Cheez Whiz will come within .000000003 cm of slicing your face into Bacon Bits.**
So I tried very hard to revel in the urban beauty of the situation, but failed, because I suck at revelry. I’m not a reveler, I’m a thinker. The beauty of college, besides its vast array of majors with names like KETCHUP ANALYSIS AND POLICY or PUTATIVE SCATOLOGY (APPLIED), is that you get taught how to think. I can proudly say that nary a month goes by that you do not find me*** engaged in an act of thinking. “Huh,” I might think to myself, in cultured tones.**** “Shall I pre-order ‘Night Court: The Complete Second Season’ BEFORE I engage in critical analysis of photographs of male figure skaters? Or AFTER? Curses. I cannot choose. For to restore my depleted cerebral energy, I shall first take a trip to Tasti ‘D’ Lite.” Sometimes - not to "toot my own horn" - I even go to class.
If you remain at college long enough, the rate at which you commit acts of intellect will increase until, at last, you reach the ultimate cerebral goal: 24/7 paranoia. I adopted this some months back, just for a lark. I never did obtain the lark, because it turned out you also had to send in two proofs of purchase,***** but I kept the paranoia. It kicked in especially at eating establishments, which I often attend with my backpack alongside - but not physically attached to - my person. I therefore became convinced that menacing hoodlums would make off with it (the backpack). This is a logically unsound concern, however, inasmuch as my backpack weighs approximately 2,000,000,000,000,000 pounds (Fahrenheit). Any menacing hoodlum who tried "funny stuff" would fail at once. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the menacing hoodlum actually got as far as lifting the backpack, at which point – WHOAAA – he would pitch menacingly to the floor, where he would flop around menacingly under the backpack, shortly before expiring due to complications of shattered torso. But you have to be on your guard.
But the paranoia didn’t kick in, not at first, upon my encounter with the Jar of Doom. For one thing, at the time my entire cerebral apparatus was intensively engaged in a quiz (“Which Doctor Who Are YOU?”). I remained in Deep Thought Mode even after the jar came in, abandoning the quiz in favor of pondering how we are ever to get it together, as a nation, if we do not take a stand against acts of Cheez Whiz-related brutality. You, personally, should feel ashamed of yourself.****** Then there was clean-up, during which I had to ponder the very real likelihood that my life would never again be the same for perhaps as many as ten minutes.
But life does go on, and as I made my way toward Tasti “D” Lite, the paranoia finally set in: it must have been retaliation. I should explain: a few days before, in a brash moment of audacity, I undertook to play in my dorm room – without headphones – a recording of: classical music. I should further explain that this was highly docile English classical music, the sort of composition with a name like “By the River on a Summer Evening as a Cow Looks Over the Fence at the Trees Rustling Softly on Ye Banks of Ye Braes of Yo Mama.” Now, I live in a residence where loud sound is a common pastime, from amplified music to amplified shrieking at nothing, to amplified carnal activity, to amplified taco-chewing, and so on. My personal favorite is of course rap, which is for the most part unintelligible, though to the best of my understanding, one particular piece advocates sex with alpacas. Were you to stand outside my building at, say, 3 A.M., the night sky would be populated with dozens of skyrocketing, comic strip-style words such as BOOMchhhBOOMchhhBOOMchhhBOOM, SHRIEEEEEK, OHHHHhhhhhHHHH, I WANNA SEX YOUR ALPACA, etc. Amid which atmosphere a comrade saw fit to rouse me from slumber by banging on my door******* to communicate the following sentiment: TURN OFF THAT RACKET. Which I obligingly did. I don’t know what happened after; my antagonist went away, I guess to sex his alpaca.
But I have not been innocent of English music-listening since, so I figured that was probably the reason behind the Cheez Whiz. That said, it’s weeks later now and there has been no such incident since, so I guess it’s time to let go, and resume the paranoia over my backpack. It’s not an issue of valuables. It’s the fact that I have in there every molecule of every scrap I’ve amassed since, at a conservative estimate, the Pleistocene.******** You never know what such a collection, ending up in the wrong hands, might turn up about you, such as the Hudson News receipt confirming your MasterCard purchase of Rosamund Thrust’s acclaimed paperback Loins in Heat, not that I would know anything about this receipt, dated July 12, 2007.
Obviously, I could clean out the backpack, but this would be – and here is a great intellectual stumbling block that has foiled the objectives through the ages of countless great thinkers such as myself – boring. Which narrows down my options in life to either paranoia or academia. And god knows I know which of those is the lesser evil.********* Should you happen not to see eye-to-eye on this issue with me, feel free to drop by my dorm, the one with the sound-effects outside, and tell me all about it. I’ll welcome your views. Stay a while! Have some Cheez Whiz!
*Just now, for instance.
**I can say without fear of hyperbole that this would have been a calamity on a par with nuclear war. I have a very lovely face, you see.
***You just try and find me. C’mon, punk.
****Like this: “Huh.”
*****Which was too much woooooooork.
******I feel a little better now. Thank you.
********I base this estimate on the fact that somewhere in there is a “scrunchie.”
*********Paranoia, of course. You only think it’s academia because you hate me.
©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending