In my view, he's making the whole human race look bad, but especially young people. If you haven't been following sports news, which I never ever do but this story was impossible to get away from over the weekend, Rory McIlroy just won his first major tournament, the U.S. Open (see: golf). He is twenty-two years old. Not only did he win this infamous championship, he set a bunch of records doing it, as he probably had the greatest round of golf in recorded history. I didn't pay attention to the game on Sunday very closely, but I'm pretty sure he finished the day with a bajillion under par. Yes, I believe I heard that on ESPN. This soon-to-be-a-great-Trivial-Pursuit-question event came up in a brief elevator conversation the other day with my boss's boss, who it turns out by coincidence used to work at the same company as my dad starting before I was born. "He's only, what, like twenty-two? How old are you?" the boss asks. "Twenty-one," I say. "Right, well, you still got a year to catch up then," he says, or something to that effect. He crystallized what I was already thinking. I just found out that McIlroy's last birthday happened pretty recently. He turned twenty-two less than two months ago. Our births were only about eight months apart. And he just won the U.S. Open better than anyone else has ever done that before. What have I ever done better than everyone else in the world in history? What records do I hold? Besides most times anyone has ever hit their head on an MTA bus or train (happened just a little over an hour ago). OR: Besides most hours logged playing "FallDown!" on my iPod Touch? OR: Besides time, money, and energy spend on Magic the Gathering and video games. They don't give out trophies for any of those things. Also I just made all those records up.
Obviously I don't have a lot of time to strive for any world records or create something that I can enjoy making and be proud of. In almost four weeks of my new internship, I still haven't gotten over how much time so many working people, me being one of them for the time being, spend at their jobs that likely don't fulfill them in any way outside of financially. I know I'm not saying something here that hasn't been figured out by pretty much every adult human being before, but it's been weighing on my mind ever since I heard the strangest thing in my office's mens room last week. I was standing in the stall, because I think urinals are weird, when I overheard a man at the sink on the other side of the wall brushing his teeth. It made me think of all the nutcases (sorry, just calling 'em like I sees 'em) I've ever seen or heard clipping their fingernails on the bus or a subway train, only this was less annoying and yet weirder. Unless you were, I don't know, coming from or leaving on a business trip, why would anyone brush their teeth at work? Maybe he's obsessed with personal hygiene. My understanding of OCD mostly comes from watching Tony Shalhoub on Monk and more recently Emma on Glee, and both those characters seem like they might brush their teeth in an office. I assumed that he must've just eaten something and felt the compulsion to brush immediately, in which case I wanted to tell him about the article I read about how that's actually harmful, because working your teeth that hard just after chewing up a meal will wear away tooth enamel or some such thing, so really the best time to brush is just before each meal. But maybe he read the same article and he was just about to eat, so I didn't say anything.
Back at my desk, though, my overactive imagination kicked in. What if this guy isn't the office Monk at all? What if he lives here at the office? While everyone around him thinks he's the office overachiever, first one in the morning and always working late, secretly he's never going anywhere, just sleeping under his desk like George Costanza and getting all of his meals from the cafeteria downstairs. Maybe he had a huge fight with his wife, stormed out of the house one morning, and hasn't had the nerve to go back ever since. Or maybe he just lost his security badge, can't get back into the building without it, but doesn't want to deal with the consequences of losing it. Or maybe, and this is the alternative I've really accepted as my narrative, he used to have a long commute to and from his home in, let's say, Staten Island, and he got so fed up with the hours and hours spent sitting on buses and ferries only to spend so little time at home that he just said to hell with it and started living at work. And that's an impulse I understand because I now do so much of my living at work as well, about eight hours each day, five days a week. Compare that with how and where I spend the other hours of the day. Approximately three are spent commuting to and from the office, during which time I'm at best reading but more often just listening to a podcast. I often think about how far I could go if I spent all that commute time just traveling in one direction, how close I might get to my girlfriend's house in Pennsylvania if the bus got onto I-80 instead of the expressway. I'd say that, on average, I spend about six waking hours at home on a weekday, and one of them is entirely devoted to getting up and ready in the morning. That's not a favorable ratio.
So that's a numbers breakdown of how I'm spending my weekdays and why I'm not holding up any giant cups like Rory McIlroy. (Yeah, that's why, every sensible person groaned.) I might keep following news about this guy just because, if I'm being very honest, I'd like to hear that he's not happy. Because if he's a record-breaking athelete (well, it's golf, but still), he's almost my age, and he's really happy in his personal life, then there's no denying that he's got me beat. But as long as I'm happier than he is, then that trophy means less than any of my made-up awards. Besides, from what I hear, that was apparently a really dumbed-down U.S. Open anyway. It's like when that first guy won it all on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? because all the questions were way too easy. (Apologies to Rory McIlroy for everything above. Just kidding about the whole wishing unhappiness on you thing, man.)