Everyone needs a wake-up call every so often.
I realized this fact this past August. At the time of my epiphany, I was watching “Beauty and the Beast” in my underwear while eating frozen, pureed bananas that I was calling “ice cream,” which is probably all you really need to know about my summer. “Beauty and the Beast” is my favorite Disney movie, not for its historically accurate portrayal of medieval (right? Or Renaissance? Sometime with dresses and crossbows) France, but because I always identified with Belle. We are both bookish brunettes. We both quickly grew tired of the “provincial life” we experienced in the sleepy towns of our youth — she in southern France and I in New York City. Both of our fathers are eccentric inventors — hers an actual inventor and mine an “inventor of litigation,” or “lawyer.” And our tastes in men run to the hirsute.
But unfortunately, it turns out I’m Cogsworth, who I need hardly remind you is a grade-A jerk and talking clock. At one point, Cogsworth chuckles to Belle in a clockish manner, “If it ain’t baroque, don’t fix it!” I found this so amusing that I spit banana all over myself. And then, and good Christ was this horrifying, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror next to my couch: banana seeping down my chin, a temporary tattoo of an angry sun on my stomach, laughing maniacally at an anthropomorphic carriage clock’s rendition of a stupid, pretentious art history-related joke. The epiphany, then, went something like this: “I am sort of gross as a person and would prefer not to be!” I was so frightened at this that, upon my return to Yale, I shaved off my foppish mustachio and changed my major to something marginally less pretentious/useless. But I decided I needed to be more proactive in my quest to make myself a less pointless person. Enter my new best friend and daily companion:
My to-do list!
—Get bike fixed
—One (1) of the following:
a) Do laundry
b) Buy more underwear
—Take shower if mood strikes
Oh. Oh, dear. It is apparent from this list that I am lonely, lazy and an abuser of the exclamation point. Also, I ride a bike, when it works. Very cool, me, you’ll find a man in no time. And I guess I need, or needed, honey, though God knows why; I assume I included it on this list for some reason other than its amusing, if subtle, juxtaposition with the item above. But judging from the following (updated) list, I can’t even be a successful, lonely honey-consumer:
What I actually accomplished today:
—Drive to Stop & Shop while listening to depressing music
—Buy $40 worth of cold medicine, but no honey
—Go home and sleep
No, I’m not making meth in my basement (and yes, I did have to show my driver’s license to buy the amount of Sudafed I laid away today). I am sick, a lede I buried so deep even my housemate’s adorable dog Eddy couldn’t find it (EDDY IS THE BEST).
Being sick at college throws a wrench in your plans like no other. I realize that there are so many things I should do here at Yale, a famous and pleasingly one-syllabled place. I should be a happy and productive person, do well in all my classes, appease my bevy of friends and admirers with the occasional witty platitude. I should not wear the same one of my dad’s old sweaters for more than 24 hours straight.
I should, in short, wake up.
But when I am sick, I find it impossible to do anything except eat and sleep, like a person-sized worm, or an adult-sized baby. More accurately, I don’t sleep; I stare at the ceiling in the dark and check the clock on my phone every 20 minutes or so, calculating how little sleep I am actually going to get and how this will only make me MORE SICK.
In my feverish, doped-up state, I have decided to adopt another Disney character as my model to guide me through these dark and essay-filled times. I am speaking, of course, of the classic “Robin Hood” antihero Sir Hiss, and don’t you forget it. Sir Hiss is a snake, but nevertheless manages to perform normal bureaucratic functions with ludicrous competence. He writes with his tail and wears a little cape and hat so that he looks more like a person, despite having no limbs and an effete serpentine lisp. He is a shining example for us all.
Here, then, was my wake-up call: We could all be a little more competent in our day-to-day lives, even if we derive the impetus to do so from realizing that we suffer by comparison to bizarre and vaguely hateful cartoon characters.