Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

A few days ago, I was rummaging through my Dad’s room for a clean pair of socks. Like a smart college student, I used my entire stash of clean sockage before leaving Howard so that I could abuse my Dad’s free washer-dryer at the house. I mean, I figured since we’re big believers in the mi casa es su casa policy…it wouldn’t be a big deal! Right? But then again, this economy ain’t no joke.

(Make reference to the terrible economy to elicit sympathy? CHECK.)

As the hunt for clean socks commenced, my good eye lingered on a small picture set nestled between a copy of biblical concordance and a short bottle of Nautica cologne. It was a picture of your narrator, wearing his Little League uniform, revealing a mouth devoid of adult teeth.

For about ten minutes, I stared at that photo. If only I could dispense some sagacious advice to the younger me! You know, like tell him not to play catcher with the kid that would eventually give him the scar that he would carry on his right cheek. Or, perhaps encourage him to punch that white kid in the face for using the “n-word” at Holy Cross High instead of nodding slowly through gritted teeth to avoid suspension. Heck, I could even teach him that girls in high school are not as intimidating and terrifying as they seem. But alas, the knowledge was trapped in my adult brain. I left my younger self trapped in his plastic prison, a character serving his sentence as an image evoking memories of a simpler past.

For the first time in my life, I understood the concept of time flight.

Since I don’t want to become a clichéd writer, let’s take a moment to deconstruct an annoying statement that has become abused within the rhetoric of our society.

Time flies when you’re having fun. Trust me, that’s sooooooo not true. Time just flies. Period.

Which brings me to my true reason for writing this column: College is OVER.

It’s just crazy to consider. I literally remember walking into my freshman dorm, looking at the bleak walls painted puke green, and baking in the heat like a rotisserie chicken. I remember cutting heads for cash in the community bathroom, sharing the one hot water shower on my floor with fifty other dudes, and praying for a quick end to the atrocity.

Well, God answered my prayer. My four years of college went by faster than the Tim Donaghy scandal. On graduation day, I felt like Hiro from NBC’s Heroes. And over these last four years, I’ve made my share of mistakes and contributions, picked up some great friends, and learned a bit about what it means to be a man of integrity and faith.

Wait, did I just say MAN? Well…I guess I also (gulp) became an adult, too.

It’s true. In a heartbeat, my Dad’s little son – the Little Leaguer, the Mock Trial aficionado, the deadly basketball sharpshooter – became an adult. Yes, it’s painfully obvious that I look like an 18-year-old extra from Saved By The Bell. (I just learned how to shave last week.) But during my college years, a metaphysical transformation took place. Even though I still get hyped watching the Blue Barracudas battle it out on Legends of the Hidden Temple reruns, I’ve started to think about investing my finances and budgeting my resources. I’ve even had to start asking myself the tough questions. Should I go to graduate school or law school? When is it not okay to ask your parents for gas money? For the love of God, what am I going to be now that I’ve “grown up”?

Yes, I’ve officially crossed the threshold into adulthood. If you don’t believe me, just ask the student loan office. I hate being in debt.

Graduates (and overzealous underclassmen), don’t panic. With the wind of God in your sails, life’s a breeze. But once this adulthood thing gets underway, I don’t think we’ll get too much time to reflect. So, let's do it NOW! Where are you going anyway? Gas prices are rising again! What’s the rush?

To honor my college years, I’ve decided to finish out these soppy graduation columns with a bang. Then, it’s back to sports talk and awkward ramblings.

Yes, I’ll miss you. And you. And you. And you. And of course, I’ll miss you too.

But there’s some people and things that I won’t miss from college at all. Not for one minute. So, to keep the tears from destroying your desktops and BlackBerries, I’ve decided to let it all hang out. Why not? You’ll never see me again, right?

Let’s just cut to the chase already.

Goodbye…to the one nice lady in the loan office. I hope the anger and hate that spews from your colleagues doesn’t singe your cheerful countenance. Or your eyebrows.

Good riddance…to H. Patrick Swygert. I never found out what that H actually stood for. Heathcliff? Herbert? You know it HAD to be wack if you took the time to hide it.

Goodbye…to the few girls that I seriously considered dating before chickening out. If you liked me, feel free to drop me a line. You know I get text now.

Good riddance…to the girls who attempted to employ my creative intellect for their evil desires. No, I can’t help you study for your GRE’s in June. Isn’t that what the prep class is for?

Goodbye…to the professorial triumvirate (Carr, Williams, Tovares) who encouraged me to develop my creative abilities and pushed me to achieve a level of excellence I once though impossible. You will be missed.

Good riddance…to my negative attitude and low self-esteem. Man, you were the worst. Good thing Donald Lawrence (or David, if the Bible) made “encouraging onesself in the Lord” a positive re-affirming practice. Living in this newfound freedom is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Goodbye…to my Motorola Razor. Actually, I’ll see you around…now that you’ve become my kid brother’s new phone. I kept you in great shape over these last few years. We had some great times together…ordering pizzas, begging for project extensions, and conducting phone interviews for humungous internship positions (Beijing!). Man, those were the days.

Good riddance…to my apartment's terrible cable connection. I went a full semester without the NBA on TNT because of your inability to provide me a good screen. No, don’t go blaming this one on the TV. That bad boy’s been going strong since I earned it shoveling snow in the cul-de-sacs of New York. I’m still readjusting my eyes to our high definition monitor at home because of you.

Goodbye…to dormitory living. Are you an egg short of a monster omelet? Borrow one from the guy next door! Want to play basketball on a sunny day? Just message all twenty dudes who lived in the Towers to see who’s ready to get owned!

Good riddance…to the ridiculously loud speaker systems played by obnoxious jerks on any given weeknight. Why play ONE song at full blast for ten minutes at a time? People are trying to sleep! Ahh! Loud Noises!!!!!

Goodbye…to Remember when you had to type “TheFacebook” to get to this little website? Remember when we were finally allowed to add profile pictures? Back then, I felt like I was part of some cool, little network. Then my teenage cousin got a profile. (By the way...Zuckerberg, I’m watching you. Don’t go all crazy like that dude from MySpace.)

Good riddance…to Black Planet, Friendster, and all those other random social networking websites. Don’t hate, collaborate. Maybe you guys can become an application on Facebook.

Goodbye…to life as an individual, not as a token smart black. Hello, corporate entity that seeks my application for employment. I look forward to not fitting your neat, little stereotypes of black people characterized by buffoons like Tracy Morgan and Sean Patrick Thomas. Look! I can make a reference to Warren G in my sophisticated presentation on cross-platform advertising! And I don’t even know how to dance!

Good riddance…to the cult, the School of Business. Yes, it turns out that you need to actually develop an understanding about society outside of stuffy corporate management suites and aggrandizing self-promotion. (See what I did there?) No, waving green paper in the air with Washington’s face on it at commencement doesn’t actually mean that a cushy job with stock options awaits to embrace you with open arms. I look forward to seeing you infiltrate my city and get lost in our subway system. No, I'm not bitter. I enjoyed wearing T-Shirts to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
(Eh, I figured it was past time for me to make a subtle dig at them, you know?)

Goodbye…to Mr. Quick, engineer of the famed morning omelet toss. I’ll miss seeing you allow girls with exposed cleavage to cut the omelet line even though I would already be waiting for ten minutes. Hey, can you hear me? I did Sudoku puzzles while waiting for my spinach and cheese dude!

Good riddance…to the new cafeteria. Yes, I know it looks better. But why did you wait until I shifted to dining dollars to remodel the place? I would’ve overlooked this unfortunate error if you had only made sure to keep the salad bar stocked with croutons and Italian dressing. It’s the only style I like, dangit.

Goodbye…to the Honors Program. In that office, I could be AS LOUD AS I WANTED! We had some epic conversations in that room. In the Honors Office, I felt like a big fish in a small pond, or so I thought. We all did. It was like living in Cleveland or something. Or, like being a contestant on Tiny House. I could always use the free paper, Dr. Williams.

Good riddance…to the pressure to conform to patterns existent at my university. No, I never felt the tickle to become a part of a fraternity or to become a top-notch student government officer. Nope, I never liked talking to a girl with too much makeup and too little makeup. (More often than not, I wondered if I could butter my toast with the extra cake of mascara applied to her face.) To be or not to be? Eh, well…I just WAS.

Goodbye…to the Geek Squad. No, not those pompous jerks that charge you one hundred bucks to fix your laptop's backlight, but the people that held me accountable and encouraged me to do my best academic work. I won’t call you out for fear of destroying your street cred, but I do appreciate you. Let's always go hard or go home.

Goodbye…to the Dandy’s man, who always delivered my 10 Pc. Buffalo wings with white rice on time, no matter how bad the weather. I will leave your number in my phone out of respect.

Good riddance…to Ho Chi, who continue to effectively cripple the campus with its insistence on low prices and late hours. I know those lads and lasses were eating cat. I mean, are chicken even formed like that? Make sure to wipe the blood off of the floor though. People don’t enjoy seeing murder stains on your linoleum before devouring your mambo sauce.

Goodbye…to the Kennedy Recreation Center on P St., where I could shoot hoops and get games with guys without having to wait 27 “Next!” yells for my turn.

Good riddance…to Burr Gym, with your egregiously long intramural tournament robbing us of sheer enjoyment of the facility. When I give back, I’m putting my cash aside for Howard to build a monster gym somewhere else. Maybe then people will actually show up for basketball games.

Goodbye…to my sister, Arielle. Well, at least to the "Hey look...we're both in college at the SAME TIME at the SAME SCHOOL!" moment we shared. You are my partner-in-cool, my sister of suave, our family’s Daedalus of décor. No one will ever come close to reduplicating our intrinsic connection. We became great friends in college, and that counts for wayyy more than boosting some grade point average. Plus, you understand my jokes better than anyone else. Heck, we ARE freaking twins…even though I’m 1 ½ years older than you.

Quick, walk the other direction. I don’t want too many people staring at us during this emotional encounter. Oh crap…they already started talking pictures. Just act like nothing’s happening.

(Folks, by the way…stop calling Arielle “Lil’ Benjamin”, “Baby Benjamin”, or whatever clever moniker you developed to solicit her. We hate that. We get it. She’s my sister. Those references have never been and are no longer acceptable. Her name is ARIELLE. Got it? Cool. I’d hate it if everyone referenced me as that for my entire college career.)

Good riddance…to the moniker of “Lil’ Benjamin.” In addition, good riddance to those dudes who would try to befriend me in order to get closer to Arielle. And vice versa. Trust me…we KNOW who you are. Just stop already.

Goodbye…to Blackburn's C store. I killed SO many dining dollars in that little shop, buying my routine Gatorade/Almond Joy combo. Yeah, I know only old men eat Almond Joys. Leave me alone.

Good riddance…to the Punch-Out. Do you know why they call it the Punch-Out? Because all that chicken grease and fatty food knocks you out! (Man, that joke looks so lame on paper...)

But most of all, goodbye to all the people that made my college experience worthwhile. That includes you, faithful blog readers. This blog was a big part of what made college fun for me, because it helped me to realize that I’m pretty talented at making people laugh at my words. And, you know, talking sports.

Instead of moving this entire operation strictly to Points Off Turnovers, I’m going to keep posting my entries over here on the Facebook too. Honestly, I just think that it’ll be way too hard to get my readers to commute to my blog to read my updates and long-form posts. As I mentioned before, it’s tough to establish a base audience. Once someone establishes an Internet routine (check e-mail, update status, pick nose, read, monitor updates from Bossip), it’s tough to shake them out of that track.

Either way, I’ll still be around. Feel free to text me (I’ve got a BlackBerry…WOO!) or hit me up on Don’t worry…I won’t pull a Where’s Waldo? on you.

Howard University, I’ll see you when I see you. God, you are SOOOOOO awesome.
Mike Benjamin, II


  1. Ahh...the end of an era.

    And now the life of non-conforming conformity begins....

  2. I really like your writing style. I found this piece of writing hilarious.