Last weekend was my college reunion, or at least a reunion at the college I attended, which I will claim as mine even though it was focused on other years. The important thing is, I got some free food. And that’s crucial, because while I am good at finding free food, I’m not actually any good at the reunion game. And don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about because we all play the reunion game.
Points are awarded for having successes and new interesting things to tell your classmates. So if you wrote a book about Rhode Island since the last time you saw people, that’s one point. If you got a promotion at work, one point. If you successfully defended your thesis, 10 points. If your vastly successful company continued to be vastly successful, no points. Why no points for continued success? Because success isn’t enough to win the reunion game. You also need to have something new and interesting.
If the guitarist has joined another heavy metal band, only one point. But if the quiet astrophysicist has joined a heavy metal band, 10 points. Having your first baby is worth a lot more points than your second baby. Having more than three babies actually loses you points. You get much more credit for doing something different. And this makes sense. If you think about it, if Mayor Alcombright wins a third term, it might be a success for him, but it’s not that interesting to talk about. But if Mayor Alcombright resigns to lead a jazz fusion quartet, that will totally be worth points at his next college reunion.
At this point I should probably admit that no penguin actually took the SATs, in spite of the headline. That probably wouldn’t be allowed, since many people object to animal testing. But if a penguin did take the SATs, it would be worth a lot of points at his reunion. Although if the penguin was like me, it would probably be looking for the free fish buffet, and not worry too much about the fact that he had spent the past year basically being a penguin just like previous years. What can I say, I love food; it’s my favorite thing to eat.
But that’s not news. Even the fact that I write for a newspaper is not news, since I’ve been writing for a while. I don’t get any points for continuing to write. I do get a point for creating a card game this year called "Legend of the Cipher," which combines strategic tabletop card gaming with freestyle rapping. I do not get a point for performing at poetry slams, although an exception might be made for the North Adams "Rambling Poets" slam on June 20, since I am featuring between rounds. And I might get a point for performing stand-up comedy this Saturday as part of a stand-up comedy benefit in Bennington. But no points for humor writing.
There’s a reason people greet each other by saying, "What’s new?," rather than, "What success do you continue to have?" We’re really only interested in novel and unexpected success. It’s why I titled this column to talk about penguins rather than reunions, the same reason corduroy pillows are popular -- people want interesting headlines. Nobody wants to read about how I ate lots of Salad And Tiramisu. But if I were a penguin, that would totally be interesting.
Penguin eats SAT.
Seth Brown is a humor writer, the designer of "Legend of the Cipher," and wants to start a jazz trio with Mayor Alcombright and a penguin. His work appears weekly in the Transcript, and weakly on RisingPun.com.