Julia Shi

Hi there! Hope you’ve been having a nice day. Can I grab you anything? A coffee? Water? Maybe some wine? You know, in ancient Greco-Roman times, wine was usually diluted, which is why Dionysius’ name is sometimes translated as “the bringer of undiluted wine.” In fact, dilution of wine was a fundamental marker of the Greco-Roman social hierarchy. Don’t you think it’s a shame that we don’t have a strict social hierarchy today?

But, oh, I’m getting ahead of myself! I’m so pleased to finally meet you, since we’ve seen each other around campus so often. I’m the guy who condescendingly explains Aristotle to very sad girls in Blue State, and today I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself.

To get us started, I’d like to dispel the pervasive myth that condescendingly explaining the teachings of Greek philosophers to girls who look like they’d rather slit their fucking wrists than spend one more minute on this date is a skill that people come by naturally. While there certainly are some prodigies in the field, I, like most, came to possess my powers through education and dedicated study.

From a young age, growing up in a wealthy East Coast family free of want or extensive interaction with racial minorities, I learned the skills of the trade from those around me. Every time my father viciously mocked my mother for not understanding his joke about the Eumenides, every time my brother Winston swore at the housekeeper in ancient Greek, I learned skills that helped make me who I am today. However, it was practice that really allowed me to hone my abilities: from my first day of Montessori pre-K to the lavish graduation ceremony my prep school held in the Hamptons, I took every opportunity I could to poison all of my relationships by never shutting the fuck up about how Thomas Aquinas had such respect for Aristotle that he referred to him simply as “The Philosopher.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been able to improve my work in college. Our precious few years at a liberal arts university present us with a chance to really improve at the things we adore. For some people, that means finally taking that painting class they’ve always meant to try; for others, it means delving fully into the world of mathematics; for a select few, it means boring the object of your affection to absolute tears with your interminable, condescending, and often kind of distasteful diatribes about, like, ancient Greek pederasty or whatever. I chose my path, and I have no regrets.

So, where am I today? Generally, I spend most of my time behind a delusionally self-serious Tinder profile in which I somehow manage to reference “the life of the mind” twice over the course of 30-odd words. Whether out of morbid curiosity, boredom or maybe some sort of latent masochism, girls sometimes match themselves with me, upon which I treat them to a coffee of their choice and a bunch of untranslated Latin passages from Tacitus’ Annals, a leather-bound copy of which I bring with me wherever I go. In my free time, I also enjoy making parties significantly worse for everyone involved with my mere presence, getting mad when people don’t understand that my Halloween costume is a pretty obscure reference to Plato’s Apology, chucking boat shoes at the homeless and interning at the hedge fund my dad runs.

I try not to think about the future too much, but there are definitely some things I could change about myself. While most every girl who has the misfortune to go on a coffee date with me feels the gnawing pain of existential dread by about fifteen minutes in, I’ve only driven five or six people to such despair with my masturbatory Aristotle yelling and casual yachting references that they publicly renounce their faith in God — so, yeah, I’ve got some room for improvement. But, beyond that, I think I’m fine just staying what I am: a symbol of our campus’ epidemic and utterly unexamined narcissism so fucking on the nose that you’d laugh it out of a creative writing seminar. I mean, what’s wrong with liking who you already are?

Anyway, I should probably get going. I have a hot date tonight, and I can’t wait to tell her at great length about how I think the word choice in a passage from the Aeneid elucidates the issue of academic tenure! But, again, it was really nice finally getting to meet you. And, of course, if you’re ever in the mood for a hot cup of joe, a loud coffee shop, and an even louder guy with slicked-back hair to half-scream condescending observations about the classics at you, just give me a call.

Micah Oslermicah.osler@yale.edu