[The following fictional letter is one of the teen male monologues in Emophiliacs (2005), my "punk rock musical" which was presented at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. A recording of me "performing" this piece, officially titled "Admission," is available on Jukebox Stories: The Official Bootleg, a generous collection of Jukebox Stories' greatest hits over the last couple of years. The first batch of CDs sold out pretty quickly, but they are now back in stock! Now you can own such infamous stories as "What My Sister's Breast Implants Have to Do With Golf" and "My Sister's MySpace Profile," recorded live, as well as such notorious songs as "Munching the Cooch" and "Mixed-Up Modern Family." Buy it now...or pay in hell. (This accompanying photo is of the lovely and talented Joseph Parks, who first spoke these words [although this photo is from another, wetter production.])]
Dear Admissions Office:
Thank you very much for the rejection letter. Even though it was a form letter, I appreciate that you spent enough time to do a mail merge in order to have my name actually printed on it and spelled correctly. I recognize that that takes some effort and some semblance of humanity.
I hope you don't think I'm being sarcastic or snide, because the fact of the matter is I'm not bitter about it at all. I mean, I may be a horrible student, but I'm not stupid.
I know that I deserved that rejection letter. I know that I'm not good enough to go to your college. I know that I had poor grades, that I had no significant extracurricular activities, that I had no teachers who would write me a letter of recommendation. I know.
I coasted through high school because you coast through things that you hate. Those four years were not a pleasant time for me. My home life was a mess, with my mom and dad arguing all the time and drinking all the time and the only thing that seemed to unite them was that they both could smack me across the face without the other one ever doing anything about it or feeling bad for me. They absolved each other. But somehow, I was seen as the problem child, always acting out at home and acting out at school and acting out so much that my parents took my school's recommendation that I go to therapy, where they began medicating me with drugs that I don't even know the names to.
I think the biggest problem that my parents and my school had with me was that I seemed to be following in the footsteps of my brother. He's a year older than me and probably a bigger screw-up than I will ever be. But people expected me to be a certain way because of him. My brother set me up for failure.
It's the summer before all my friends go off to college, and, while they're busy shopping for dorm room furniture, I'm working at the same restaurant that my brother works at. It's one of those ridiculously decorated chain restaurants where the whole staff is forced to come out and sing "Happy Birthday" to people who want a free piece of cake and who believe that life is worth celebrating.
My brother has been working there for three years, ever since he was a junior in high school, when he started out as a busboy. He's now a year out of school, he's now a waiter, and he will probably be doing this for the rest of his life.
I'm bussing tables, and I'm frequently working alongside my brother who yells at me and tells me what a horrible job I'm doing, but I think he's just relieved that he's not the only failure in my family.
Which brings me to the point of this letter.
You have to let me into your college. Please.
I think one teacher one time a long time ago said that I had potential. That was the nicest thing anybody had ever said about me. And I think that it's true. I do have so much potential. And I'll study hard, get excellent grades, do well on your sports teams, volunteer my time and services in any way that I can to make your school look good.
Because my only other option is to try to pick up a few classes at my community college and continue to live at home where my parents will continue to smack me, and one day I'm going to smack back so hard that I will probably kill one of them and end up in jail for the rest of my life.
And if that doesn't happen, then I will remain at the restaurant, work my way up to waiter, and maybe, just maybe, when I'm in my thirties or forties, I'll be a manager. My life's work will be trying to come up with new and exciting daily specials. And when I do come up with something brilliant to scribble out on the Daily Specials chalkboard, my brother, who will hold seniority over me, will veto it, a little power play on his part to make him feel better about himself.
Enclosed is a twenty-five dollar gift card to my restaurant. I had to work about four hours in order to afford to buy that. I hope this gesture shows you how dedicated I am.
And I hope you'll use it. You can come in and watch me work, and maybe that will tell you about the kind of college student I can be. That despite my yelling brother and annoying customers and impossible management team and physical labor and mindless tasks, I work hard anyway. Not to kiss up, not for good tips, not to move ahead. But because that's the kind of person I'm teaching myself to be. Because if you can work at place like mine and still retain your sanity? And your spirit? Then you can work anywhere. And that's where I want to be someday. Anywhere. Anywhere but here.
That's not my real name of course. My real name is lost somewhere on one of your many mail merge lists. I mean, I know for a fact that this letter will do absolutely nothing in terms of letting me into your school. I know that this is waste of my time, a waste of your time, an exercise in futility. But for some reason, I felt like I had to write it anyway? For some reason, I felt like my life depended on it.