An expensive piece of paper

My diploma showed up this weekend, in a mailer marked DO NOT BEND that was bent almost in half by my fuckhead mailman. After straigtening out the piece of paper, tacking it in a $12 frame from target, and hanging it in my bedroom, it’s a strange reminder that my days at IU are over.

I guess that’s a harsh way of looking at it. But the piece of paper is sort of the official word that on June 30, 1995, the part of my life called college ended. I didn’t see this piece of paper because I owned the bursar some cash, and I never did the cap and gown stuff because at a school as big as IU, it’s pretty worthless. They don’t have every one of the 10,000 people walk down the aisle when their name is called – they say “school of business – please stand – you are graduated – next – school of music – please stand – “.

Packing and moving out here changed things, and I’ve been here for long enough to forget what it’s like to be a student. But the piece of paper is a strange reminder. It’s so official – like something that would be in a doctor’s office, telling the world that this person spent a lot of money doing this and it ain’t no truck driving certificate. I sat looking at the piece of parchment for a while last night, mesmerized.

It reminded me of when I got my first driver’s license. I spent a whole evening staring at it, reading all of the text: the different restriction codes, the organ donor section, my height, my weight, my crappy picture. I drew a handlebar mustache and long hair over the photo with a pencil, which made my age go from 16 to 34. But most of all, I just thought about how strange it was to see an Indiana driver’s license with my name and picture on it. It was also abnormal to be able to get in my beat up Camaro that had been sitting for almost two years, and without a parent or guardian in the passenger seat, pull out of the driveway, turn up the radio, and slam on the gas.

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I was watching Larry King Live and he asked some guy in Paris if he had ever seen a car as fucked up as Lady Di’s limo after it got crushed in that tunnel. If Larry King asked me that, I’d have to answer “you’ve never seen some of the shit I’ve done to cars, Larry”. That Mercedes was in much more saleable condition than my Turismo that blew up in the parking lot of a Martins grocery store.

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