When I was younger, my mother used demons to contextualize people doing bad things. Rainy day demons made people grouchy at the grocery store checkout. Rush hour demons made people cut you off and, then, if they were really bad, flip you off. There were bad day demons, grouchy demons, haircut demons. It’s like I grew up in the only children’s book approved by a cult.
I always knew they weren’t real, but demon theory taught me how to look out for bad things without losing faith in humanity. Bad situations, not bad people or a bad world, make people do bad things. At age five I had my own theodicy, and it was mother’s frustration at the waiter ruining her order and not the teachings of Augustine that got me there. Who needs university?
Today, when the girl writing an exam behind me grunted and then said “you’re distracting me! Stop waiving your arms!” I felt like I was a child again. It seemed as though exam demons had gotten to her, as they had the proctor hours before when asking people without seething to leave their cell phones at the front of the room became too much of a challenge for him. I explained, “I can’t” and continued writing. So did she, I guess.
By Friday night, the exam demons will have fled back to their papery lair and begun hibernating in preparation for the December haunting. People will stop stressing out and giving me weird looks in Robarts when I cough, and email subject lines like “BIRNEY QUESTION?!?!?1″ will no longer take up space in my inbox. I can breathe, you can breathe, the girl who can’t write her exam because someone is mildly waving his arms can breathe. Oooohm.
Come Frosh Week, any semblance of demonic presense on the St. George campus will be replaced by the spirits of revelry. Their place, in turn, will be quickly snatched up by midterm goblins before the exam demons appear yet again. It’s a cycle, university, a trap; the meeting point between the stifling structure and helplessness of youth and the responsibility of adulthood. We make pitifully few decisions of our own but are often expected to interact with the world as if we’re not already able to pencil in our plans for April 5, 2013. That’s the last day of classes of the semester, by the way.
The more I read over this post the gloomier it comes across to me. What I say is true, I guess, but it seems as though with each passing second it’s less appropriate for a summer vacation/back to school blog post. Maybe it’s worth revising: there’s plenty of fun, and a lot of learning, to be had at our fabulous institution. Maybe I haven’t been giving this thing a fair chance.
I wonder why?