If at first you don’t succeed, go to college

Peter Borchers

Does it bother anyone else that half of the millionaires in this country are teenagers? I’m talking about people like Britney Spears, N*SYNC and half the players in the NBA. Some of these folks aren’t even old enough to own a credit card, yet they’re well on their way to a cushy retirement. I’m entering my final semester of college so I’ve been doing some self-assessment lately. I guess I just find it a little disheartening to see people younger than me making millions of dollars and legions of fans when the greatest accomplishment in my life is completing one side of a Rubik’s Cube. People say not to worry. “You’re only 21, your best years are ahead of you.” They are lying. I wasted my best years staging epic battles between my He-Man and Go-bot dolls while the young go-getters of the world were getting a jump start on their careers. In this fast-paced new millennium, if you haven’t reached the top of your profession by 14, you probably never will. If you don’t believe me, just watch the Olympics next month. These world class athletes are so young they have diaper changing stations built right into the field. I saw some of the gymnasts the other day and I swear they can’t be more than 6-years old. These kids must have started training as a fetus to be competitive. The only way you had even a remote chance of Olympic stardom was if your mom had a pommel horse surgically implanted in her womb. Which brings me to an important point: Whenever you don’t succeed, always blame your parents. It’s easy to do and you’ll feel so much better about yourself. And if you think about it, in a way everyone here at Iowa State is a failure. Yes, you’re working hard (or doing a good job cheating) to make it through this university. But isn’t going to college really a second option? Nobody really wanted to be an engineer. Sure, they may enjoy it now, but if you told them when they were little that they would spend the next 20 years in school so they could do math for a living, they probably would have peed their pants. They probably would have peed their pants anyway (kids’ll do that), but I think you get the point. I’m in advertising and while I do enjoy what I’m doing, I can’t say writing ads for Curious George Fruit Snacks is fulfilling any childhood dreams. In my childhood dreams I grew up to be a rock star or a pro football player. This should come as no surprise; there are really only four professions that young boys ever give any serious consideration: pro athlete, rock star, fireman, or cowboy. These options get narrowed even further when kids realize that it’s hard to make a living volunteering your time to fight fires and that cowboys don’t exist. The only exception to this is Jeff Olson of the Village People who was both a rock star and a cowboy. Initially, I wanted to be the star quarterback for the Vikings but thanks to my habit of getting beaten up by the neighborhood girls, I learned early that I had very little chance of making it in the NFL. So rock star it was. I have to say I put a lot of time and energy into being successful in this field. I worked extensively on my air guitar throughout middle school. Unfortunately, just as I was about to hit it big, the Milli Vanilli scandal rocked the music world and overnight the market for imaginary musicians was eliminated-along with my dreams of being a rock star. As a senior in high school, I tried to resurrect my music career. But I was well past my prime. In the music industry, if you haven’t seen your face on a lunch box or had a Happy Meal named after you by the time you hit puberty, your career is over. Even though I knew I had little chance of making it big, I figured learning to play guitar would be worth it because it would make me irresistible to women. So one afternoon I went through the junk closet and dug out my dad’s old 6-string (which, due to years of neglect, was now a 5-string). I figured I could probably master Stairway to Heaven by sundown so I could devote the rest of the evening to fending off the hoards of women who would no doubt be throwing themselves at me because of my incredible talent. But things didn’t go quite according to planned. Two months later my version of Stairway to Heaven still needed some work, but I could play the first few of Kumbaya with my eyes shut. And while women weren’t exactly swooning over me, my sister had at least stopped threatening my life every time I started playing. So I was making progress, but it was becoming clear that the rock star thing wasn’t going to happen. And that’s why I’m here. While I’m a little disappointed I never made it big, I don’t feel bad about myself. I just blame my parents.