Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Big Scary Real World

My wife Kara and I decided to host a little get-together for some of our work friends last Saturday night. We do this every so often just to prove to ourselves that people will still voluntarily hang out with us even though we’re married and boring. Also, the bathroom will never get cleaned if the threat of a co-worker forever associating us with toilet scum doesn’t loom near.

When you’re an adult and you have people over, guests bring stuff with them: chips, beer, wine, even homemade salsa. I’m still getting used to this idea. When friends used to come over in high school, they’d head straight for the kitchen, calling over their shoulders: “Your folks got anything good in the fridge?” Mom had to bury our good food in the backyard.

A couple of interns joined our regular crew this time. These guys are taking a semester off from college to see what life is like in the Real World, a term that I find myself using occasionally even though it’s awfully condescending. “Ooh, you have no idea what it’s like in the Big Scary Real World, little college children,” we say, holding flashlights under our chins and waving our adjustable-rate mortgage statements in their faces.

In many ways, the Real World is actually a lot nicer than school. In the Real World, nobody forces you to stay up until three in the morning trying to figure out what a Bernoulli equation is or why Avogadro’s number isn’t 867-5309. And you never have to use Bookman Old Style font to make your papers look half a page longer, mainly because you don’t have to write any more papers.

As far as I can tell, though, the biggest difference between college and the Real World is that in the Real World you get paid for doing things you don’t want to do. This helps you to afford the things you couldn’t in school, like pepperoni on your pizza. And when you decide that maybe Milwaukee’s Best just isn’t good enough anymore, you can usually upgrade to a better six-pack for less than 50% of your net worth.

As those interns sat in our living room on Saturday night, I wondered what our lives looked like to them. I pictured myself at nineteen, looking through our living room window, watching the goings-on inside like Scrooge watching the Cratchits eat dinner.

“They’re just sitting around telling stories. Only one person is talking at a time. Wait a minute, what’s that big red box they’re taking out?” I’d ask, my nose pressed against the glass.

“Oh, please, no. Merciful Heaven, what is this? It’s…it’s…Scattergories! On a Saturday night!”

Turning to the Ghost of Saturday Nights Yet to Come, I’d ask, “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

Actually, the Scattergories game was kind of fun. That’s a good game for anyone considering a run at law school, as it was designed with the sole purpose of making people argue with each other. Days later, I’m still making my case to Kara, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Scattergories Court, that some of my answers should have been counted.

“K, of the Special variety, is a perfectly good answer for breakfast foods that start with the letter K, you know,” I told her.

“No way,” she said. “That’s worse than kumquat omelettes.”

“Well, I think it should have counted. And everyone else came up with regular old personality traits that started with the letter M, like moody and melancholy. I think I should have gotten extra points for coming up with something as original as make-friendy.”

“Make-friendy? That doesn’t even make sense.”

“Sure it does. Hey, everybody really likes the new guy at work. He’s very make-friendy.”

Kara replied, “You’re about to feel very got-punchedy.”

You can write something make-friendy to Mike Todd online at


  1. This made me laugh out loud, which prompted my husband to scream, "Are you on that damn internet again?"

    To which I promptly crossed my fingers and replied, "No, dear..." and clicked you away.....

    Make-friendy, indeed.... hee


  2. ah yes- I remember when Gary and I upgraded from Sludgeweiser - oops I mean Budweiser to something that didn't leave a small jackhammer inside my head for 2 days after drinking. That was right around the time of our annivsary #2 - or the Paperplate Age. Now we've graduated to Corel dishes and a little Crown Royal once in a while.

    Youa re such a funny writer. I literally laugh out loud when reading you.

  3. No hyphens for me.


  4. melodyann! Awesome to hear from you, Holmes. Don't let the internets get you in trouble.

    Sheri -- Dang! Corel? Y'all are classy! Thanks for the kind words. I find your shizzle to be, as you already know, off the hizzle.

    busterp -- I'm more of a semicolon man myself. Word is bond, Dog.

  5. As we all know, some people's paletes are never discriminating, hence the huge popularity of Bud. I have since graduated to Corona, with or without the lime!
    Remembering the scattergorie days, I once said that blue balls was a disease, and a two-pointer at that! My husband and male cousin nearly threw me out of the game. I stand by my answer. Not all men have it, and maybe some should!

  6. DUDE! You could SO have used "McDreamy" or "McSteamy" as personality traits. What were you thinking? make-friendy indeed.


  7. When it comes to hyphenated terms for personality traits, my favourite is pass-remarkable.

    It's used to describe someone who makes comments about other people's business.