Appendix B - Refining Gold - by Justin McDonald

        Life is frequently amusing in retrospect. Even tragedy is funny when you look back at it. The details, though they seem infinitesimally insignificant at the time, can be looked at later, and the pure absurdity laughed at. College, though not a tragedy, is a difficult time that is full of absurd details, most of them having to do with the opposite sex. The others are closely associated with your friends, people who only a couple of years ago you didn't even know, nor could you imagine them existing. They are just too strange to exist in your high school world that all fit together, and made sense. There are times that it is exceedingly difficult to laugh, but you can have no other reaction than to just break from reality, and start laughing hysterically, because more likely than not, when you are around friends like mine, a break from reality probably makes more sense. Though my friends encompass both sexes a great deal of our conversations revolve around the female of the species. Since I am considered to be somewhat an odd fellow, and we are at a conservative school I frequently am considered to be the life-long bachelor of the group. But Phil has never given up on me.
        "You have, like, eight billion women to chose from." He had absolute faith that somewhere in this vast world there was a girl that was odd enough to suit me. He just was happily unaware of the size of the world. He was happy to not know facts. They usually just got in his way, and didn't change anything in his life. How could we try to interject reality and interfere with his blissful joy?
        "There are only five billion people, there are, by the law of probability, two point five billion women." I am the eternal realist, and point out the proper statistics to anyone who will listen, even if they don't really matter. I just like facts. I know they don't matter, but they are still fun to point out.
        "There are two point five billion women to chose from."
        "No, most of them are in the wrong age group."
        "He's right. He can only pick from those who are within five years of him, either way." Tarah had jumped in on my side. However, I think that she too believed that me finding love anytime soon, or in the United States for that matter, was a joke. She had once declared that I was the closest thing she had to a boyfriend. That fact frightened both of us, I believe. She could hurt me. I was afraid to make a bad move, and give her reason to hurt me. Unfortunately, being me, I tend to say dumb things, and knew that I would regularly be giving her reason to cause me injury. I didn't have faith for her to have a perpetual good humor, and to merely laugh at my comments that did in fact deserve injury. And it frightened her, I believe, that the best she could do was a long-haired punk like me who went against almost every one of her social and religious mores. So I think that she frequently tried to get me a girl since it would salve her mind over the issue, it would make me someone who was obviously not a boyfriend.
        "OK, so that is one-eighth of two point five billion." I did a quick calculation in my head, and realized that I needed a calculator. Phil was the math major, and he was proud of that fact, along with the fact that he could recite the powers of two up to some absurdly large number. I believed that I could just state the fraction, and let him work it out. So I went to the next issue.
        "Then you have to figure in the language barrier. Remember, I can only speak English, and bad German."
        "Well, just learn how to say `I love you' in every language known to man." Phil pointed this out with exaggerated hand gestures, and with a squeal in his voice. At this point his arms were flailing, and I knew that he would probably start screaming soon. Screaming wasn't a sign of anything bad with Phil, it was actually a good sign. It meant that he was in a good mood, or a bad mood, but with his sense of humor still intact. Phil could be a dangerous man when he wasn't screaming. That meant that he was a little bit angry, or frustrated, and one could easily get hit by spaghetti or some flying Jell-O. "I got the babe, and I'm psycho."
        "Yeah, but you got a cool chick. They don't make many like Nanno." I reminded him of that a lot. I think he just liked to have that fact reaffirmed in his mind frequently.
        I have spent the year proving that I am worthless at love. Either my standards are too high, or the fact that I go for girls who are blonde, hippies, or pay attention to me, is my problem. I haven't quite figured out which one it is yet. However, I am beginning to lean toward the first, because I will get a crush on just about any blonde who crosses my path, or any girl who smiles at me, but they have almost all been simply crushes, and have seen sense, and reason within a few minutes, hours, or at most a couple of days. After a short period big, flashy, blinking, red neon signs point out that the female in question is all wrong. So Phil has become my love guru. He has become the official voice of the red neon signs.
        "You gotta stick a cheese doodle in your ear, and walk up to the chick, and say `Hi, my name is Justin, and I have a cheese doodle in my ear.' Try it. You will get the chick."
        "I will disgust the chick."
        "The one that isn't disgusted will be yours." Phil smiled his angelic smile. His eyes fluttered in the way that only men who are secure in their masculinity dare to do. He once again began to expound on his theory of the refining of gold. "If you scare away all the bad chicks, then you are losing the chaff." He raised his hands as though he were letting the chaff fall from between his fingers, and float to the table. "When you have refined it enough, that last one will be pure gold, and she will love you. That is what I did with Nanno. I scarred everyone else." We all shuddered involuntarily remembering him scarring everyone else. The time that he stood on his chair, and let a several foot string of drool form into puddles on his plate disgusted even those of us with strong stomachs, and it cleared out everyone from tables around. I'm just a freak, I'm not out to clear out the cafeteria, and to marry the one girl who is still sitting there, oblivious. To me there is a difference between good marriage material, and a girl who can continue eating while those around her are being disgusted by my friends and I.
        "If you put cheese on your beard and go up to a girl and say `Hi, I'm Justin, and I have cheese in my beard' she will love you."
        That fact just concerned me a little bit. Any girl that would be attracted by that, although she may be the type that would go out with a guy like me, would, I feared, have enough mental problems to tie my future money up psychiatric bills.
        As strange as it may seem to some people, I am actually looking for a semi-normal girl. As much as I enjoy green hair, nose rings, and complete insanity, it just isn't what I'm looking for right now. Of course I'm not looking for a prep either. Preps are the epitome of evil, in my mind. It is merely that I realize that with my own utter insanity I am looking for a girl that might temper me just enough to make me an acceptable member of the vague notion that I have of what society should be. Left to my own I will eventually be a freak that is fit only to be a janitor at a small town elementary school. I will someday be the man who children fear when they are in the dark. I will soon be the malcontent that writes inane letters to the editor of a meaningless paper about how people need to have more respect for trash collectors, the men upon whose shoulders the society runs smoothly. Or with a girl I will probably be the same man, but darn+ it, I won't be alone.

+Some text has been altered at this point in order to maintain standards of wholesomeness within this website.

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