Creative Writing: Stephen Colbert's I Am

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We’re sitting in his dorm room at what was his first-choice college, and he looks small below this high, impersonal ceiling. He smells like cigarettes instead of laundry; he is surrounded by Diet Coke cans and dirty clothes instead of books. In the dim light, Che Guevara squints from his poster at the wall above our heads. Speaking slowly, this boy I do not quite know chooses his words in an uncharacteristically arbitrary manner. My responses are detached, and we slip into a resigned silence, reading on opposite sides of his bed as the night wears on. I don't remember exactly how I got to know Mike Hall. Was it when he impersonated Daffy Duck during rehearsal for the school play sophomore year? When he used the bus ride to my first Model UN …show more content…

Around me is a veritable library, books overflowing their shelves like a tribute to organised chaos. He frowns. "Stop whining. If it doesn't matter to you, don't do it." I tell him it's not that simple, and he turns to his nightstand, pulling a dog-eared copy of Kant's A Critique of Pure Reason from underneath Stephen Colbert's I Am America (And So Can You!). Tossing his own homework onto the floor, he opens the volume at random and begins to read aloud. Learn what you love, he told me, and so I choose Plath before Newton, international law before calculus. Just as he predicted, I've never been …show more content…

I told him no, and we spent forty-five minutes watching beautiful characters cry and party and fall in love. "It's the life we don't have," he said, when I asked him why he liked it. "It's the other extreme." Privately, I wasn't so sure. The drugs that featured so heavily in the show were a foreign concept, but the look of sadness and exhaustion each character wore was one I instantly recognized from my own reflection in the bathroom mirror. Suddenly, I didn't want to be at either extreme. Why choose freedom over stability? Why choose the chance of a prestigious future over the possibility of current happiness? For that matter, why allow those things to be mutually exclusive instead of learning to clarify, to reverse the distortion of my priorities that occurred somewhere along the line? As he drove me home that night, the lights from the houses blurring into lines outside, I asked him what he thought. "Perfection's stupid. You shouldn't care so much about what everyone else thinks. Just be nice--you're lovely when you're

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