Waiter, Waiter, There’s A Nihilist In My Soup!


I picked up a hitchhiker on the way to the library this morning. True, I wasn’t cruising down a curve of highway when I stopped for the upraised thumb of a dusty stranger who later turns out to be a chainsaw-wielding maniac…. This was much worse.

I picked up a Thief of Time.

I met him in The Class That Is Technically Useful But Is As Much Fun As Having Sandpaper Rubbed Over Your Eyeballs, which I absolutely should have taken as an omen since that class was the most efficient time-thieving mechanism since that Silicon Valley crowd invented Candy Crush and “borrowed” a fistful of years from our lives.

Things you might enjoy knowing about the Time Thief.

1) He likes his iced coffee Venti in size. But my acute caffeine addiction detects that it’s usually more creamer than coffee, so he could totally just get a tall and drink it straight like a real person to create the same effect.

2) He is studying Law, I think at Master’s level, but he already has a couple of Bachelor’s degrees.

3) He likes to mention his degreeS, emphasis on the plural. He keeps them in his pocket, curled up in a bill-fold with Lady Justice carved on it. Every now and then he brings them out to unfurl them in front of you, like a Wolf of Wall Street might a fat roll of 100’s.

4) He’s from the west coast, which makes him unpopular with his professors: too laid back for them apparently.

5) This is it, right here. Here is where the minutes begin to flood by into a vortex of uselessness. His nonchalance is definitely nihilism, that affected, oily carelessness that usually leads people to lean against the bar at parties and unctuously announce that “regarding life, the wisest men of all ages have judged alike: it is worthless” – That’s Nietzsche, by the by, ain’t libraries grand ;). And boy can the Time Thief expound on his themes at length. He’s the original “too cool for school” character. Too cool to care about anything, it seems. He doesn’t read for his classes, he doesn’t care about grades or impressing his professors, he has no real plan for his life but will probably just “get another degree” because he can. He’s discovered a dark, clammy niche of law that only one and a half people even know exists, apparently in order to make ironic performance-art out of his studies by focussing on something that effects no one at all and has no practical application.

So there I was, trapped, spending most of the best hours of today fielding questions about how little time I’d devoted to my set reading so far this semester, or how many of my seminars had caused the feckless “I don’t know why I’m here but it’s better than a social sciences degree” existential fluttering that seems to be the intellectual nirvana of being too cool for my life to have meaning. Somewhere around his fiftieth laconic smile I should have jumped in. I should have yelled that I wasn’t the humungous twat paying $5,000 a class to sit in the back and pretentiously deride the entire pantheon of knowledge and that, yeah, I love reading about long-dead geniuses and their adventures in trying to get girls to like them (which actually seems to be the central point to almost all the classics). Yougotaproblemwi’that? Do ya? Do ya?! DO YA?! I could have thumped my chest for emphasis, maybe threateningly brandished my copy of Image, Music, Text.

But I didn’t. I just smiled and nodded and quipped about the superiority complexes of the Comparative Lit. crowd, and my mind’s eye rolled in its socket, while all the time I’m thinking that the Time Thief was taking me away from the quest for a holy grail seat. It’s midterm season, and it seems like the entire city wants a spot in the graduate reading room! – near enough to the heating vent to be warm but not too far from a window, so you can still see freedom and please god not too near the ever-dinging elevator, or anyone with a runny nose.

But really the upshot is only that I’m sitting here munching a Chilean apple and feeling erroneously sorry for myself because I didn’t get up on my little soap box. #firstworldproblems. Soooo, on with number 6.

6) His feet smell.

7) He thinks we should grab a drink some time.

8) We will, funnily enough, not be grabbing a drink some time.

Bye for now, and whatever you do, avoid Californian nihilists with old shoes and fetishes for not valuing life, they will steal hours from you and you will get nothing done.


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