Tuesday, June 14, 2005

stories worth a thousand words #21

A WARTS 'N ALL AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN ORDINARY GUY

1000 WORDS ON…THE COLLEGE YEARS

Written: December 16, 2004

THE CHICKEN SONG (written 1990)
[sung to the tune of the theme song of the TV Show “The Monkees”]

Here we come, stumblin down the street
We can’t do our finals, so we must repeat
Hey hey we’re the chickens we keep on cluckin around
And we’re too busy drinkin to get any study done
We’re just naturally lazy, we just wanna booze every day
Cos we’re the drunk generation, and we’ve got nothin to say!


At least I can say I was first. When I announced to all my friends that I was deferring my finals for a year to do them properly, I was shocked to see in the following days that one by one they were to do the same. Kevin Shanley, Barry Mullen, Jim Boland Allie & Daria (who apparently did not have last names), Sonia Roman, Abbey Black. As the rest of our class sat their finals, we sat in the bar drinking as we sang my Chicken Song.

For three years prior to my decision, I had done everything that one is expected to do in college, except of course, that small matter of actually applying myself to my studies. Having taken what was for me the extremely easy option of choosing UCD Arts as my first choice on my CAO application form, I proceeded to plod through the four-year course without giving so much as a moment’s thought to what I wanted out of the academic establishment.

Why should I have, for I seemingly had everything; a steady source of income from the pub, a steady relationship with the girlfriend, a group of friends to go drinking with, and absolutely no pressure from parents. It was brilliant. Sitting through the odd lecture and handing in the odd paper was nothing but a necessary evil in my book. For each of the four years I would be extremely diligent in my study habits, paying a visit to the College library every single day; well, for the first couple of weeks of the year, anyway.

If only I knew what possessed me to select three of the most comprehensive subjects for my First Year, those of English, Economics and Psychology. Most people opted for a softer third choice, usually Greek & Roman Civilization, which they could then drop for their final two years. But not me, I had to go for the jackpot! When asked the question of my intentions as I invariably was, I would say I wanted to do “Pure English”, with a view to eventually becoming a teacher of the subject.

I probably actually believed the teacher plan for a while, until that is I tried to get my head around the whole subject of “Old & Middle English” which had my brain cells on the verge of bursting. Rather than rise to the challenge, I found a way to avoid it. That last sentence is pretty much the story of my life! Anyway, the crowd in the Psychology class seemed cool, so I decided “Fuck it; I’ll do Pure Psych instead.”

A few weeks into Second Year, we were told by one of our tutors that all we had to do was put our names to our exams papers at the end of the year and we would pass, as seemingly the Psych department was hoping to one day become a faculty in its own right, and needed to let the numbers through to justify it. I will never know if in fact this was true, but it certainly was music to a lazy man’s ears!!!

I doubt you would find a more unlikely triumvirate of friends than those who formed “The Men’s Club”; you had Kevin Shanley, the skinny snob from Belvedere College, Barry Mullen, the charismatic bogger from Stradbally, and me, the wisecracking Yank who lived with his grandparents.

Yet found the informal club we did, and we would often hold “meetings” in the dingy hell-hole that was the UCD bar. The session would be called to order by the three of us banging our pint glasses on the table saying “here, here” in fake posh voices. We used to inspire others to “join” us, a ritual which consisted of such humiliating things as signing their name in Guinness on the table with their nose, and repeating the Men’s Club proclamation (“I hereby devote my life to the consumption of alcohol and the degradation of women”) with one’s tongue stuck behind their front teeth. Once the new member had bought the Founder Members a drink, they were instantly thrown out, of course.

I think you get the idea how Second year went, and unfortunately these habits carried themselves forward into Third year, and before I knew it, I was coming to the conclusion that I would need to defer. My fellow chickens however, actually applied themselves the extra year, with the notable exception of Barry, who was to drop out altogether. I found myself in something of a panic as the final exams loomed for the second time, as my study pattern had not improved at all in twelve months.

On the day the results were posted on the notice board, I had seen my score and found Kevin roaming the halls of the Arts block. “Well, what did ya get?” I asked him. “A 2.1!” he said proudly, “And you?” When I told him I got the exact same honours mark, he instinctively said “ah, well done”, but as each word came out I saw his face fall, with something akin to “you lucky bastard getting the same mark as me when I worked my ass off all year and you skived only to hit me for articles and information a couple of weeks before the exam!” written all over his face.

Kevin went on to do a PhD. When handed my Bachelors Degree the following November, I was firmly locked into my plan of getting married and setting off to travel the world, just like new graduates normally don’t!
© JL Pagano 2004

Next ... #22 : 1000 WORDS ON ... MY JUST DOING IT (SPORTS THAT IS!)

5 comments:

Anna said...

This is a very familiar story - have you told it before?

JL Pagano said...

Shan I will have you know I resent that allegation, for I am NOT in the habit of repeating myself!!!

JL Pagano said...

Shan I will have you know I resent that allegation, for I am NOT in the habit of repeating myself!!!

JL Pagano said...

Seriously though...these stories were on another blog which became my sports blog, so maybe you read it there???

shandi said...

Sounds like you really enjoyed your college years.... good for you. I drank very few alcoholic beverages...went to only one party...very few boyfriends... I ended up with a magna cum laude that does absolutely nothing for me. A good friend of mine just last week told me while comparing his 2. something to my 3.9, that it all amounts to nothing. A degree is a degree. You had a helluva lot more fun than I did.
Great story!!!