Street | Humor
It was a Monday. The air was bitingly cold, yet my eyelids continued to droop despite the frosty sting. I had two classes down and two more to go, with only a short lunch break in between. Something buzzed in my gloved hand.
“Getting food. Where are you?”
It was a text from my roommate. I picked up my pace.
I entered the Rocky dining hall with a vague sense of dread. My roommate was probably still getting food, and I doubted I could find her inconspicuous JanSport amid the masses of unfamiliar faces in forest green quarter zips. To my relief, I spotted a friend, A, with none other than my roommate’s backpack in the seat opposite him. After exchanging a brief greeting, I hurried off to the servery.
When I returned, however, it was not to A and my roommate alone but our friends B and C as well. My hope of cramming in some reading dwindled into a pathetic little flame, which was swiftly extinguished when acquaintances D and E plopped their bags down next to us. I saw the weight of my growing social anxiety reflected in the scowl that my roommate sported; we both had gotten very little sleep and only had about 20 minutes left to eat.
“Have you guys ever heard of coronation chicken?” asked D. “It’s Britain’s national dish made for the Queen’s coronation in 1952 that includes precooked chicken, mayonnaise, curry powder and raisins. It’s atrocious,” he laughed, “but it was like, the only thing I ate on my flight back from my inter —”
“Dude, you want to talk about atrocious?” interrupted A. “Over the summer in Ecuador, all I ate were the guinea pigs from my host family’s farm.”
“Woah, that’s so extreme … ” my roommate said weakly.
“Like Doritos,” I said. Nobody heard me, or perhaps they did me the courtesy of pretending not to hear.
“That’s just brutal,” said C to A. “Over my summer in D.C., the secretary who was in charge of the interns’ lunch loved shawarmas.”
What the hell are shawarmas?
“I love shawarmas,” gushed E. “That’s not even worth complaining about. My startup decided to all do this banana detox together, so we just ate 30 bananas every day, and nothing else whatsoever.”
A few minutes in, my roommate and I had completely renounced any pretense of participation. Eventually, however, our silence was noticed. Gradually, I felt the force of every gaze falling on our rigid faces.
“Guys, I have something to tell you,” I said at last, quietly. My roommate shot me a look of alarm. “I’m sorry it’s come to this, I really am. But I — I’m — ”
“Lin, no!” cried my roommate.
“ — I’m a Boring Person.”
A deep silence blanketed the table. My roommate’s eyes darted wildly among the faces of our acquaintances, trying to salvage the situation. Unfortunately, she, too, was Boring.
“Haha,” said B optimistically. “… Ha?”
“HAHAHA!” shouted my roommate aggressively. I kept a meek expression on my face.
“You can’t be serious,” said C incredulously. “Everyone here is Interesting.”
“What’s your Witty Reaction Time? The most it can be is like, what, 0.8 seconds?” asked D.
“This semester, on average, 1.21,” I admitted.
An uncomfortable thickness clung to the air, like when someone reveals that they’re PDF-ing Bridges at a table of engineers. “So you’ve been falling behind a bit,” said E at last. “I’m sure you do tons of Interesting things on a day-to-day basis.”
“Well, I’m behind on Game of Thrones, Suits, Arrested Development and …” I lowered my head. “And I never finished season one of Breaking Bad.”
There was a gasp. B had grabbed A’s hand; C swooned with a flourish (as all truly Interesting people are wont to do).
“Sometimes, when I run out of things to check on the Internet and I don’t want to read anything too serious like the news, I check my high school email accounts and then … LinkedIn.”
“Okay, this has got to be a joke,” announced D with finality.
I sighed and took a deep breath. “I only go out once a month — on a Friday. I’ve never eaten outside a dining hall. I only ever eat one type of cereal — unsweetened corn flakes. I fall asleep at 11:30 p.m. and wake up at 7:30 a.m. every day. I only speak one language. I come from an upper middle class family of a single ethnicity. I grew up in New Jersey. I’ve never presented at a science fair or won a spelling bee. I don’t plan on pursuing any certificates. I’ve never been on a safari in any African country. I read “Are You Smart Enough to Work for Google,” and I wasn’t. All my political views are moderate. I’ve never worked for a start-up. I don’t even really know what a start-up is. On each of my birthdays, all my Facebook well-wishers have only ever written “happy birthday” because there is literally nothing else anybody has to say to me.”
An eternity seemed to pass (please note how Boring that metaphor was).
“Wait, wait, I know!” A cried suddenly. “You must know a pun, right? Puns are Interesting. Tell us something punny.”
“Hm,” I said. “Okay, a man walks into a bar. He said ‘Ou — ’ ”
“Stop!” A shouted. Each of the Interestings had expressions indicating varying degrees of shock and even distaste. D appeared slightly nauseous.
“One more thing,” I breathed, barely audible now. “My only extracurricular activity is writing for the ‘Prince.’ ”
My roommate covered her face, ashamed of our association. C stood solemnly and pointed a finger to the exit. “Get the fuck away from us,” she said.
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