For me, dating in college is a lot like grabbing an apple in a dining hall: by the time I work up the confidence to go to the kitchen, the best apples are already taken by other people, the remaining ones seem fine on the surface but turn out to be mushy or weird, and, worst of all, no apples want to date me. It's becoming increasingly clear that I should have capitalized on the pinnacle of my romantic life when I had the chance: in third grade. It's ironic that my third grade self encountered significantly more female interest that my current self, and not because tetherball accounted for the height of his athleticism, but mostly because of his complete lack of interest in females. Why is it that the only time girls had crushes on me was when I wasn't interested in girls? What the hell was Third Grade Ethan thinking? 

I wish I could talk some sense into that punk.

ETHAN: Hey, you!

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: If you want to play tetherball, you need to get in line.

ETHAN: I don't want to play tetherball. I want to tell you an important message. From the future.


ETHAN: I'm you from the future.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Aw, awesome! Like in Back to the Future! It's my favorite movie.

ETHAN: (gets sidetracked) I know. It's so good.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: I love the scene in the second one with the Hoverboards.

ETHAN: It's the best one of the series! And remember how Marty jumps into the water at exactly the right moment-

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: And Griff swings right into the building!

ETHAN: Classic!

They laugh together. They have the same laugh, except Third Grade Ethan's is significantly higher pitched.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: So what did you want to tell me?

ETHAN: You need to go on the Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios as many times as you can NOW. It's cheesy but fun. And Universal is going to close it down and make a SIMPSONS ride out of it, just to advertise for the movie. It's absurd.


Long pause


ETHAN: Oh yeah. One more thing. This may be even more important than Back to the Future.


ETHAN: Just listen to me. Sometime next year, you're going to start liking girls.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Ha ha, nice one. That's gross.

ETHAN: I'm not finished. By the time you realize this, the three girls that have crushes on you right now will have moved on. And never again in your life will three girls have concurrent crushes on you. 

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: What does concurrent mean?

ETHAN: God you're stupid.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Shut up, you're stupid.

ETHAN: Listen. If you don't do anything about at least one of these girls, you are going to regret it.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: What, regret getting cooties? No, thanks. Besides Jason and Sam would make fun of me. 

ETHAN: Sam does not graduate high school and Jason will never like girls. If you know what I mean.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: I'm sorry, I just find Legos and tetherball more interesting.

ETHAN: Mother****god****head***rag.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Heh. Heh. Mother****god****head***rag.

ETHAN: Whoops. Don't repeat that.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Don't repeat what? Whoops? Or mother****god****head***rag?

ETHAN: The latter.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Do you have any lottery numbers for me, or an almanac or something?

ETHAN: No, I didn't think of " Dude, okay. Come on, why do you think Sarah always chases you around the playground?

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Because I throw her lunchbox on the ground.

ETHAN: Stop doing that and just talk to her. Well, maybe keep doing that. It seems to be working.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Maybe you need to try throwing girls' lunchboxes on the ground.

ETHAN: You're a real smartass. Well, fine, don't listen to me. You are going to regret this.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Come on, are you telling me that by the time high school rolls around, I'm going to WANT to kiss Sarah Klausmann?

ETHAN: Yes. 

A long pause

ETHAN: Yes you will.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Well, that's just absurd. 

ETHAN: I give up. 

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Wanna play tetherball?



ETHAN: Yeah, a little.

They start playing tetherball.

ETHAN (looking off): I guess, at the end of the day, you can't live with regrets. Sure, my romantic life peaked when I was too young to appreciate it, and all my twenties have given me is heartbreak and loneliness, but you can't live your life in the past.  You gotta look forward. You gotta look – to the future. Thanks, Third Grade Ethan. 

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: So how's astronaut training?

ETHAN: Um. Oh yeah. Wanting to be an astronaut. Right. I, um, I'm actually an English major now.

THIRD GRADE ETHAN: Mother****god****head***rag.