We’re not wearing ties. We carry neither briefcases nor resumes. We wear t-shirts, plaid shirts, sweaters. We sidle up to cute recruiters and begin our job pitch, ‘Sup?’ We smile and we laugh more than anyone else at the career fair, and we like to think it’s genuine (i.e. we’re not selling out), but it’s not. We laugh, but we’re afraid, and though we form a substantial group, each of us feels very alone.
This is the community that I’ve imagined around myself. We’re the unemployable: the unpragmatic, the clueless, the vain dreamers. We don’t know what we want to do, but it’s not that. We’re headstrong, and we’re proud, and, in many ways, we’re dumb.
I talked to approximately one recruiter at the most recent career fair. It was sheer coincidence that I took her to be the best-looking girl there. In the middle of our conversation, she took out a fun-size piece of Laffy Taffy and began chewing it in front of me. She read me the joke off of the wrapper.
“What’s an owl’s favorite kind of math?”
“Owlgebra,” she said.
I laughed, and she laughed, then drooled (apparently the taffy had caused saliva to build up in her mouth), but I pretended I didn’t see it. I continued to laugh, and the longer I did, the emptier I felt.
I was too disheartened to hit on her. As I walked away, I thought to myself: I have no marketable skills. Then I thought: that’s a lie. I like money. I want to be happy. I have dreams, but I probably lack the confidence and the talent to carry them into action. I enjoy taking orders, and I’m a real champ at wasting time.
Later that week, a friend and I were camped out with a bottle of Carlo Rossi in the center of an empty Lake Lag. I was blabbing on about myself as usual, and she was half-listening and looking up at the stars. I was listening to myself, and thinking that I wasn’t a true dreamer. I was just vain. Real dreaming is hard work, and it’s got a lot less to do with the dreamer than the dream.
There was a long silence between the two of us. Then my friend spoke up.
She said, “People have been telling me to follow my dreams since I was a little kid. It always seemed intuitive, but now I wonder if the problem is that dreams are like the KGB in Martin Cruz Smith’s ‘Gorky Park.’”
I looked at her and we smiled.
“They don’t always take you where you want to go, do they?”
—Bob Borek & the Editors of Leland