I don't know how it is for you people today, but back when I was a lad, the college life was almost never about school. For example, my choosing schedule of classes revolved not around subject matter that might be valuable to my education, but rather around a strictly enforced rule of "not before 11 AM, not after 5 PM." Then it got even more tricky, because my crew and I decided that having a mutual break time around lunch to sit around, play Frisbee, tan and watch for hotties on the quad was more important than "taking prerequisites" or "graduating in four." But it turned out it was totally worth it because lunchtime was when all of the clubs, companies, and recruiters gave out stuff like free food, free t-shirts, free-crap-provided-you-sign-up-for-seventeen-years-of-indentured-servitude-which-is-written-in-very-small-print-at-the-bottom-of-page-17-of-the-contract, and other useless kitsch.
As it happened, my college was known for its excellence in the sciences and for its engineering program. It is a very well known undisputed fact that on the scale of hot to not, science and engineering majors tend to fall toward the latter. I'm not discriminating against anyone here- I'm just pointing out a politically incorrect stereotype that we all know to be true. Of course, I work in an office where everyone around me dallied in the fields of computer science and engineering, so regardless of how true my statement may be, it will probably get me jumped after work. But who fears getting jumped by a band of computer geeks? Eh, Arsenio?
So as you can imagine, searching for hotties got tiresome after the first week of the quarter, as this entailed hunting down the approximately .003% of passers-by who did not evoke immediate repulsion. And after watching 9,999.97 uglies walk by (no, English majors can't do mathematics but we ARE a good looking people) you start to believe that human beings are better off not procreating if this is going to be the result. The next logical step after that deduction is abstinence, followed by deep depression, resulting in insomnia, and I just can't lose my beauty sleep- as an English major my beauty is all I have going for me. Thus, the search for hotties ended.
We still had an hour or so to kill, and the cretins that shared our campus were going to walk by one way or another, so the Search for Hotties Our Quad (SHOQ, as in holy shit I saw a hottie on our quad, what a shoq!), turned into the Hunt Grand for Philosophy Majors (disappointingly devoid of a decent acronym). The HGPM proved to be a fantastic way to pass the hour; you see, the Philosophy Major is a strange and wonderful animal.
With its head down and purposeful walk, the philosophy major is often confused with its sister species, the Classics scholar (Greekus geekus) or the tiresomely philosophizing Graduate Student (Eggheaderus egomanius). Yet the philosophy major, at least on my campus, could always be distinguished by one distinctive, unmistakable feature:
Now as a member of the Humanities Major department, I am used to the idea that one should try to appear as attractive as possible. It wouldn't cross my mind to intentionally try to make the least of what my momma gave me. But I am pretty sure that the simple addition of a beard accomplishes exactly that. Take a decent looking person, male or female, add a beard and presto: at once you have an instantly less attractive person. That's a formula even an English major can follow. Just because one can sprout facial hair of impressive lengths doesn't mean that one should. There are lots of things that I can do that for one reason or another I choose not to do. Like buy other people drinks. Or Richard Simmons. I don't know, maybe because in aspiring for the greatness of the classical philosophers, they think that like the Biblical character of Samson, Plato's intellectual strength sprung from his beard and that they too can access the secrets of the metaphysical world only through a facial hair of copious amounts. At any rate, every single philosophy major on my campus was facially furry, making it a cinch to pick em out.
Thus we passed the hours and our days, forgoing our education in the hopes of achieving something much more noble: cherished memories of laughter at the expense of others.
As I broach my word limit, I realize that I have no conclusive point for which to strive in this article, and that perhaps I never did. But should all writing have a point? Does life ever truly end nicely reach a conclusive ending? Is there a point to our existence? Why then, should there be a point to this musing?
For the answer to these questions, we need not look too far. Only to the next passer-by with a beard.
Post Script: A few days after the article was written, we came across the website of the official Beard Team USA¢, which is apparently competing for the United States at the World Beard and Moustache Championships. I quote:
"Beard Team USA competes for the United States at the biennial World Beard and Moustache Championships. Our primary goal is to promote the worldwide appreciation of beards and moustaches. Other goals include making the United States competitive in the WBMC, promoting and publicizing the WBMC, and facilitating the attendance of members and others at the championships. We have great fun making new friends from our own and other countries."
The site advertises that the team is currently recruiting for new members and welcomes both genders.
When I first saw the site, Arsenio and I spent a good hour mocking the members and their quest for fame by way of unruly whiskers. But as I scrolled down, I learned that the 2005 WBMC held in Berlin, Beard Team USA's Toot Joslin took home the gold in the sideburns category, and while Germany continues to dominate the competition, the US team is slowly and steadily becoming a formidable rival. 21-year-old rookie Jack Passion finished third in the highly competitive full beard natural category, the category many consider the marathon of the WBMC. The team travels the world and pays its members handsomely for their time and training, even in the off-season.
It then occurred to me that my choice of an English major had once again obscured my hopes for excellence and for fame. It appeared that even the Philosophy degree was more practical and marketable than mine.
Well played, Sophocles, well played.