Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dunkin' Doughnuts, Columbia College & Prayer Circles

There is something very sad about Dunkin’ Doughnuts at midnight. To be fair, there is something sad about Dunkin’ Doughnuts any time of the day. The name presumably refers to the ancient tradition of dunking one’s plain doughnut into a Styrofoam cup of piping hot coffee. But this tradition has been relegated to TV programs attempting to classify their characters as “cops”.

I understand homelessness is a “problem”, much in the same way that “war” and “consumerism” are problems. Subjects for vegans to spend their time bitching about between Simon & Garfunkel records. “Subjects”, “problems”, “annoyances” these hippies never intend to do anything about beyond updating their Facebook statuses, and possibly linking to an NPR article they got halfway through. However, homelessness becomes less of a “problem” and more of a problem when you’re simply trying to enjoy your stale French crueler and shitty hot chocolate, and they bring their stench of alcohol into your night that is already depressing enough, thank you very much. I understand that if I am attempting to read a book while Top 40 music blares through the speakers at the sad, dimly lit Dunkin’ Doughnuts in the sad, sad South Loop of Chicago, I am asking for it. I have shown the world I have given up. But why drunkenly interrogate the cute gay couple trying to discuss showtunes in peace. It’s easy to sypathize with the homeless if you haven’t met them.

Now, to be fair, I must admit I assume the men were gay simply because of their admiration for Hair and Spring Awakening. I like Hair and Spring Awakening, and I am not gay, so how is this fair? Well, I know I am not gay and it is therefore very easy for me to not assume that I am. Someone else might assume I’m gay and this would be fine. One could assume this because I love musicals, I like the Taylor Swift song “Fifteen” and I enjoy the Twilight series. Just kidding, I do not enjoy the Twilight series. I am not gay. However, the first and foremost reason one would believe I “like it in the ass” so to speak, is because I attend Columbia College Chicago. It is a good school for what it is good for: theater, fashion, film, homosexuality.

The only problem with gay people’s affinity for Columbia College (“the lesser Columbia” as comedian Michael Ian Black referred to it) is that females seem to come with zero expectations of getting a boyfriend. Of course, this is bullshit that I tell myself. Much like how fat people claim that eating only half the box of doughnuts is a “diet”, I force myself to believe the only reason I am single is because no girl here wants a boyfriend. That is not true. The truth is I am a borderline-bi-polar, completely neurotic mess who has added “cigarette smoker” and “part-time showerer” to my charming list of traits.

I have never had a girlfriend. The farthest I’ve ever gotten with a girl is holding hands in a prayer circle. Now I don’t hold hands or pray. A large part of growing up, says the pretentious 18-year-old who has never left the country, had sex or paid taxes, is losing things. Losing religion, losing friends, losing hope. That last one’s a little too overwhelming, so let’s focus on the first one for now.

Yes, that’s me in the corner, attempting to be the first man to actually figure out the answer to the universe. Or, that was me, before I said “fuck that shit”. Believing is hard, apathy is easy. Believing is getting up at 7 every morning, working out every night. Apathy is scheduling all of your classes in the afternoon to consistently avoid the part of the day when eating pancakes isn’t depressing. Apathy is not working out when there is a gym literally beneath your floorboards, because you need to make sure to be there when your friend replies to the certainly hilarious video you sent him of a cat dancing to the Full House theme song. He likes it. You’ve just earned yourself two more Oreos. I think religion & working out are very similar, in their sense of dedication. I wouldn’t be surprised if the more religious one is, the more likely it is they work out. For the sake of my argument I will claim that one is NINETY PERCENT more likely to work out if they are religious.

I worked out for a week once. I shaved five minutes off of my mile, but when you reduce your time from 15 min to 10 min, being proud is like calling yourself a reader because you finally started Girl With a Dragon Tattoo and keep meaning to pick up that new Jonathan Franzen novel you hear is so great.

So, instead of working out I am at Dunkin’ Doughnuts at midnight, attempting to get through just one chapter of Sloane Crosley’s excellent book before another homeless person stumbles in asking for money for “food”. And I guess I am reading, which is good, but not great. Bob Dylan is great. A 36 on the ACT is great. A pseudo-intellectual sitting at a Dunkin’ Doughnuts at midnight is not great.

As I get up & leave, go outside and light a cigarette, I look back at the gay couple sitting inside. They are happy, laughing, together. They are lucky. They are warm. And they will be warm even when they step into the below-zero Chicago air that is currently reminding me just how much I miss those prayer circles.