The ghost of Eric past
While I was home for Thanksgiving this past week, I asked my brother to send me a copy of my college application essays so I could get a glimpse of how far my perspective has come in the past four years. Actually – full disclosure now – I really only wanted to see one of the essays again. So here it is, in all its glory, my crowning achievement in the college essay realm. I think it’s the perfect embodiment of a) my awkward sense of humor, b) my analytical thought process and c) my general intellectual boredom at the time. But hey, I submitted it to the University of Chicago – and I got in! – so it couldn’t have signaled too much boredom I guess. I know it’s kinda long (one page typed in Word), so bear with me. It’s worth it, I think.
Essay Prompt: Have you ever walked through the aisles of a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club and wondered who would buy a jar of mustard a foot and a half tall? We’ve bought is, but it didn’t stop us from wondering about other things, like absurd eating contests, impulse buys, excess, unimagined uses for mustard, storage, preservatives, notions of bigness…and dozens of other ideas both silly and serious. Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard.
While mustard in any form, size, or amount is one of my least favorite condiments, I do enjoy mayonnaise. Thinking of buying mustard in bulk, consequently, made me think instead of mayonnaise. This thought of a “super-huge” jar of mayonnaise in turn brought again to mind what the experience of swimming in a giant tub of the white cream would be like. As my mind attempts to dissect a virtual lap of my mental mayonnaise pool, these are the thoughts that float along:
First and foremost, why did I pick mayonnaise? If I had thought of the most common condiment, I would have inevitably selected ketchup. But ketchup does not have the chemical makeup that would allow one to simply lie suspended. Ketchup always seems to have that annoying amount of orange water spilling in front of the red syrup. This unwanted liquid would probably cause the ketchup to be less adept at supporting body weight, forcing me to struggle to keep afloat.
Mayonnaise, on the other hand, seems dense enough to hold up a whole person. Therefore, mayonnaise is the more logical choice. As an extra aside, mayonnaise has a distinctive smell and a specific taste that allow for a larger gross factor when submerged. Just the idea of the sheer stench of an unfathomable amount of mayonnaise is enough to curdle taste buds and send nostrils in search of a room freshener. In that weird way of a typical boy, this heightened grossness makes mayonnaise a better subject.
As I try my best to backstroke on the surface of my mayo pool, another thought occurs to me, one which I had not yet pondered: How will I be able to see where I am headed if I dive beneath the surface? If I open my eyes, I am sure to be assaulted with a horrendous stinging pain on my corneas, making me then clamp my eyes shut, thus sending more mayonnaise rocketing into my eye sockets. This conundrum is one I do not wish to experiment with, and I lazily stay on my back on top of the gooey mayo.
As my neighbors curiously gather around my acrid pond, I simply stare up at the sun, sure that they are jealous of my lifetime supply of mayo. Then my dream is disrupted again.
Where in the world did I buy all this mayonnaise? Even at stores that sell their products in bulk, this order would surely need special attention. As a rational human being, I would never want my name to be called over the store intercom in reference to a pool of mayonnaise.
“Customer needs help in condiments. Manager Jones, bring the Special Order for Mayonnaise sheet; this guy wants to fill a pool with the stuff (snide laughter and the inevitable beep of disconnection).”
So I toss this possible piece of history in the mental garbage can, resolved that there must either (a) be a black market contact who deals in large amounts of mayonnaise or (b) someone on eBay who has made a fortune on his unwanted condiments. I choose the first answer because it seems more rebellious, another factor in a guy’s perception of “cool.”
The last and most difficult quandary that arises before I get out of my pool to dry (sponge?) myself off is a matter of motives. What convinced me that constructing a pool of mayonnaise was a good idea? I could never throw a “pool party” per se, because no one else would want to hop in my mayonnaise lake. Cleaning up after a rainstorm would be an inconceivable chore, and besides, what happens to mayonnaise when it is mixed with rainwater? That is a question better left unanswered.
After all this daydreaming and deep thinking, I decide that I have better things with which to waste my hours. I make my dismount and pick up my special mayonnaise-retardant towel. But before I can make my return to reality, how do I get all this sticky mayonnaise out of my hair?