Henry David Thoreau once said, “Don’t try to be a great man, just try to be a man.” I think it was Thoreau. Hold on, I’ll check.
OK, I’m a little embarrassed. It wasn’t Thoreau. It was Zephram Cochrane, inventor of the warp engine in Star Trek. Yeah, he’s a fictional character, so I guess I should really be attributing the quote to whatever writer wrote that line for the actor who played Zephram Cochrane. I should, but I’ve already done so much research with the whole Thoreau thing. I can’t do it anymore. Do you know how hard Thoreau is to spell? I had no idea. I knew the name, like how it sounded, but trying to write it down? I’m not going to put up all of my failed attempts here, but let me just tell you, they were all way off.
Whatever, I wasn’t an English major anyway. I was a history major. History is so much more serious than English. Come on. English. What a joke. Besides, everything that happened in an English class happened in the past. In fact, everything studied at any university is something that has already happened. And so, technically, everything is history. And so, to get even more technical, majoring in history is like majoring in everything, because everything is history. Everything, except for the future. But I don’t think my school offered a major in futurology.
At least, I don’t think so. My school had this ridiculous call-in registration thing. I mean like, hello? Has anybody ever heard of the Internet? It was terrible. You had to get up way too early and call this registration hotline. It was busy for like first five or six hours. But you still had to just keep calling. Finally I got through and this robot voice was all like, “Hello! Welcome to class registration!” Whatever I was so bored at this point. And I was pretty sure that all of my classes would have probably been booked by this late in the day because, well, I said that I sat there for five or six hours listening to the busy signal over and over again, but the truth is, I tried like once or twice, got discouraged, and then went outside to play Frisbee or something. College!
So finally I’m on the line and it’s time to pick classes when the robot lady says, “We’re sorry, you cannot register for classes until you select a major.” And I’m just thinking, “Major? What? Already?” And I looked down at my watch, and sure enough, it said “Sophomore year.” And I’m just like, “Oh shit! Sophomore year already?” The robot lady said, “Please state major.” And I didn’t have any time to think. So I said, “Futurology.” I wasn’t sure if that was what it would have been called. Maybe Futurism? Future Studies? I had no way of knowing. Of course I must have said it wrong, either that or such a program never existed (not yet … maybe in the future) because the phone said, “Does not compute. Please restate major.”
And I knew that if I hung up to think about it, I’d have to call back and deal with more potential busy signals and I’d have to walk over to the student center and find someone who worked there and ask for a registration handbook or a course guidebook or something like that, I have no idea. I didn’t even know what I would have been asking for. And the person helping me would give me that look like, “Shouldn’t you have this figured out by now?” And I was just thinking about that happening and I have such a vivid imagination, like I could clearly imagine some university employee saying this to me, so I got pissed and said out loud “Shut up!” and the phone said back, “Does not compute. Please restate major.”
I knew that these computers had a way of just hanging up after so many botched attempts at communicating with humans, so I just said, “Mystery.” I thought this could have gone in a number of directions. I thought, maybe there’s actually a Mystery major. It would be so cool. You’d get to study murder classics and Hitchcock movies and you’d get to play Clue as an elective class. Either that or maybe the computer would take “Mystery” to mean, “Who knows? Surprise me.” And then I’d get a crazy random major, like Quantum Physics, or Hotel Management.
I sat there waiting. The phone didn’t say anything for a while. Then it clicked, “Major selected: History.” And I was just thinking, OK, did it mistake my saying “Mystery” for “History?” Or did it give me a random major, like I was saying before, but it randomly gave me history? I tried to undo it. “Phone!” I shouted into the phone, “Undo major selection!” But the phone said, “Does not compute. Goodbye.”
And there you have it folks. Best mistake of my life. I learned basically everything there is to learn about everything. Up until graduation that is. Since 2006 I haven’t learned anything. About history I mean. I’ve learned plenty of other stuff, like how to buy a wireless router with a built-in password, or how to pretend to be a Jehovah’s Witness, so that way when real Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking at my door, I can answer and be like, “Sorry everybody, I’m already a JW. Maybe you should go check on my neighbors.” Actually, this didn’t work out how I thought it would either. Because they just started smiling and saying, “Great! Why don’t you come around town with us! Knocking on doors! Handing out pamphlets! The more the merrier!”