Issue #186 – “A Decade in the Real World” – April 11th, 2011

-Next month, I’m returning to Penn to celebrate my ten-year reunion. Ten fucking years. It’s amazing how quickly life changes. Nervously moving into the freshman dorms became reluctantly moving to Los Angeles. Protesting a ban on alcohol on campus became picketing the studios during the Writers Guild strike. Speaking at graduation became performing at comedy clubs. I long for those carefree college days when not every decision revolved around the question, “How is this gonna affect my health insurance?” As I look back on the past decade, though, I’m nostalgic about my time at school yet oddly at peace with the responsibility the real word requires. Filing tax returns doesn’t seem so bad when you realize there was a four-year period when your only expenses were fraternity dues and forties.

-At my five-year reunion, the lives of my classmates were relatively uniform. Most were unmarried and many were still at their first jobs. Five years later, though, the spectrum has widened greatly. Most of my friends have succumbed to marriage – some with multiple kids – while a handful are already divorced and a hearty few like me have remained proudly single. They’ve plowed through multiple companies and several graduate degrees. I expect there will be a lot more to catch up on at this reunion – meeting babies and hearing about new jobs. I’ll be muttering, “That’s adorable” a lot – though less about the babies and more about claims that being a lawyer is interesting.

-In the run-up to the reunion, Penn just mailed its annual list of those in our class who made donations to the school in the past year. It’s actually broken down by donation size, with a handful of my classmates dropping $10,000 or more. This of course leads me to extrapolate their total income, curse them silently, and then hide the once proudly displayed sticker I received for making my own relatively minuscule donation.

-The most unbelievable aspect of spending ten years in the real world is that my classmates who have contributed the most to society – those who slogged through the MCATs and med school and residency to become doctors – still earn less than anybody else. Some of my surgeon friends who have chosen to specialize can barely pay their rent. And they’re fucking surgeons! You know what those people who gave giant donations specialize in? Pushing numbers around in Excel. Obviously they’re the real heroes.

-Last week, one of my frat buddies sent around an email concerning the reunion that was of utmost importance. He asked whether our friends were interested in skipping most of the university-sponsored events in order to have a beer pong tournament instead. We unanimously agreed – hitting ping-pong balls into keg cups and chugging beers until we puke is priority one. Plus, if anyone gets alcohol poisoning, three of my brothers are doctors. Finally their poorly compensated, underappreciated skills will come in handy.

-My reunion will not be spent solely with members of my class. My ex-girlfriend will also be on campus, celebrating her five-year, and one of my best friends has his ten-year reunion from Penn Law. I’m excited to kick it with both of them – even though I didn’t even know them as an undergrad. Ultimately, I think that’s what reunions are about: the people. Campus changes. Jobs change. Life goes on. But it’s the people college brings together that has the greatest impact. Sure some of us are more successful than others. But until a law degree or $10,000 donation counts for points in beer pong, we’re all in the same boat.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-If you’re sick, don’t offer me a fist bump or elbow bash instead of a handshake. Just don’t fucking touch me at all.

-I met this chick in a bar last weekend, and as we were exchanging digits, she noticed we both had BlackBerrys. “Check this out,” she said, and proceeded to pull up a bar code on my BlackBerry, take a picture of it with her BlackBerry, and sync all of our contact information automatically. In a dark, crowded bar, this entire process took about ten minutes to get right. Is anyone out there working on cancer research, or just unnecessarily complicated ways for me to get the numbers of chicks I’m never gonna call?

-Baseball players must get bored out of their minds in April. I don’t care how much money you make, it can’t be fun to stand around in leftfield all day knowing there are 155 games left and literally nothing you do right now is of any consequence.

-A buddy moved into my apartment complex and was coincidentally assigned the parking spot right next to mine. I can’t stand the fact that now he knows whether I’m home or not, and I feel like I need to justify my whereabouts. I’ll pull in as he’s pulling out and he’ll ask me where I’ve been. “Panda Express,” I admit. Don’t judge me; I was hungover!

-I just read that the Internet at Google headquarters is fifty times the speed of the average broadband connection in America. That’s fast enough to download an HD feature film in two minutes. That’s so fast, Facebook loads before you even realize you want to procrastinate.

-For the past few years, I’ve been making this hairy, pretty much blind left turn in my neighborhood. About three weeks ago, I just gave up and decided to start making the turn two blocks away where there’s a light. There’s only so much “Wait, wait, now! No, wait…now! Wait, wait, no…wait, now! No? Aw, fuck it.” a guy can take.

-I had a question about my credit card bill and the options American Express lists to contact them are via phone, email, or Twitter. Why on earth would I want to publicly tweet AmEx a sensitive financial question? I don’t want the entire world to know about my exorbitant Panda Express charges!

-And, finally, I very conveniently scheduled a stand-up show in Philadelphia the night before my reunion weekend, so I’ll actually be in town for four days instead of three like everyone else. I’ll use that extra time to…probably do nothing. You see, Penn grads – like, I suspect, many people who went to college in a major urban area – tend to brag about the culture and convenience their nearby big city provides. But the truth is, most of us never left the confines of campus. Sure I ran up the Rocky steps once and ate my share of cheesesteaks, but I can’t say I ever really explored Philly. And having spent the ten years since graduation living in New York and LA, nothing impresses me much anymore anyway. Still, I’m excited to return to the city where I lost my virginity and learned to play beer pong. That alone is probably worth the donation. Fuck me.