How To Be a Person: A Guide to Living for the Recent Graduate

Greetings, graduating classes of 2011! Congratulations on accomplishing all you have accomplished to get here, pre-congratulations on all the accomplishments you will surely accomplish in your accomplishful futures, and pre-condolences on all the many things you will fail at. You should be very proud. Thanks for electing me valedictorian of the Internet, and allowing me to come here today and explain to you how life works! As a person who owns two living houseplants, once changed her own tire without crying (sort of) and even does her taxes almost by herself, I think it’s pretty obvious that I am a high-functioning adult human who is qualified to say stuff. To you. Right now. Listen up.

Ring ring. Ring ring. Ring ring. What’s that?

Yeah, that’s the real world calling, and it’s calling collect. Here we go.

“Heyyy, Kevin,” (for the purposes of this speech your name is Kevin). “It’s the real world calling. I just wanted to call and let you know that this isn’t Playpen 101 at Babies Academy anymore — this is the real world, and in the real world, we play hardball. And fastball. And we take it to the limit, and also I’m not here to make friends. Look to your left. Look to your right. One of those people thinks that I am joking right now about taking fastball to the limit without making friends. Now, decide which one you think it is and punch that person in the arm. Congratulations. You just passed your first pop quiz.” CUH-LICK.

Wow, Kevin, it sounds like the real world is pretty serious! Lucky for you you’ve got a pretty cool tutor to guide you through everything you need to know about surviving the real world. (Hint: It’s me.)

LESSON #1: EMPLOYMENT

Before you do or think or touch anything else, check craigslist for any openings under “millionaire,” “oil baron” or “childbride to a sultan.” If it comes up empty, keep reading. You’re going to have to settle for a regular job (unless you feel like using Hurley’s numbers to win the lottery, but I highly dis-recommend that.)

My first job after high school was at a university library devoted to books, media, and make out corners in the basement. Students came from far and wide to visit the library — which, from the outside, looks like a gigantic, well-lit bundt cake made out of steely cyborg unicorn horns with a  comforting bible verse stamped onto the front. Jocks would go straight to the movie rental or makeout section, hipsters would mozy on over to the big comfy couch just to be seen,  grad students would scuttle into the no-talking reading room, and nerds and geeks alike would sigh and weep and gnash their teeth at the sight of such a beautiful unicorny looking library. Some of my favorite people would walk in past the metal detectors and just stand there in awe, in some state of overwhelmed confusion and awe. My job was usually to deal with anything above six feet tall (being an Amazon woman myself). I wish I could tell you that I assumed that sexy librarian stance with the high heeled foot pop, glasses adorned face, and button up bloused body reaching precariously for the book on the top shelf, but I’m pretty sure I just looked like the Library Ogre, knocking down bookshelves oafishly and stepping on petite asian freshmen too short to be in my eyesight. My boss would send me on top shelf excursions for hours on end, and I grew to hate being treated like what I’m assuming this Arnold Shwarzenegger-esque man can totally relate to. The library backroom (where I spent my other hours when I was off of Ogre duty) played Kelly Clarkson on a constant loop. I worked whenever I wasn’t in class, I got paid $8 an hour and this was probably the third-best job that I have ever had.

What I’m trying to say is that all jobs can be terrible except for the jobs that are always terrible, and at some point, the light at the end of the tunnel fades and all you feel like you are is an under-appreciated ogre with no free time and unwanted murderous visions of Kelly Clarkson. Kudos!

LESSON #2: ROMANCE

When you’re trying to seal the deal with a “sugar mamma” or “papi” or “drunk guy walking past your apartment,” it’s a good idea to have a list of super alluring catchphrases in your back pocket (mine is laminated for maritime seductions… like, in case I ever run into a mermaid). That way, whoever you’re trying to get with knows you’re a classy, serious lover who is not to be kept waiting. And also that you’re totally cool with playing out a mermaid fantasy.

LESSON #3: MONEY

I don’t actually know what this is. I’m an unemployed singer whose previous job was “Library Ogre.” Try to keep up.

LESSON #4: PETS

When you’re out in the world meeting new people, it’s important to keep an eye on your image. The type of animals you let live in your home says a lot about you. Having a cat probably says, “I am high-maintenance and my body is probably covered with silky fur you’re allergic to.” Having an iguana probably says, “I am interested in the unique and super weird kinky sexual things.” Having a tarantula probably says, “I wear a leather top hat. It’s not a joke.” Having a fish probably says, “I am not interesting or memorable in any way.” Having a parrot says, “I am awesome.” Pro tip: Print this section out for a handy “cheat sheet” the next time you go to pick up someone at the pet store!

LESSON #5: APPLE PRODUCTS

This is simple enough, Kevin. Go to your local apple store, buy everything in sight, become super awesome. Girls are automatically more attracted to you if you use Apple products (this is also totally a super scientific fact), and the more products, the better your chances of finally scoring a date with Miss Parrot-Owning, Mermaid-Fantasizing, Non-Library Ogre Kevinista (or whatever the feminine version of Kevin is. Keviya? Keveena? Kyveinne?)

And that’s all there is to it, newly minted graduates! Congratulations! Those five things are literally everything you need to know about being a person in the real world. Now, Kevin, go like spread your wings or whatever.

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