When it comes to writing about the sexual state of affairs at Dartmouth, my mind can barely keep pace with the strokes of the keyboard, but ask me to write some little ditty about how my lifelong ambition is to work for peanuts as a yuppy peon, and I can't write my way out of a latex bag.
That's not to say I can't write letters in general. As a matter of fact, I'm convinced a letter I wrote two months ago will persuade Anka Radakovich, Details magazine's famed Generation X sexual pulse-taker, to go on a date with me once I move to New York. Don't get me wrong; I'm not obsessed (although lately I have been prone to fits of anxiety over why she hasn't written back yet). I only wrote the letter because Details is sponsoring a contest with Anka as first prize.
But at nearly the same time as I was working on that letter, I was also preparing a cover letter to another prominent magazine in New York. I had just gotten back from a nerve-wracking interview in which the editor in chief and senior editor had grilled me about such topics as "What's the hottest thing in street culture today, and how would you cover it?" and "How will Kurt Cobain's death affect your generation?"
Now, aside from the fact that the only streets I travel regularly these days are Main and West Wheelock, I've never been a huge fan of Nirvana. For a generation that has seen icons like Madonna go from the black lace days of Boy-Toyhood to mega-stardom and then back into pop-cultural irrelevance, I don't think the death of one more troubled rock star will have a tremendous psychological impact.
Of course, I wasn't quite so eloquent in the interview. I think I must of have mumbled something about how as long as Eddie Vedder was still alive and kicking, we'd manage just fine. So I wrote a letter to my inquisitors to elaborate on the answers I'd given.
A few weeks later, I got a call from the magazine. While they liked my ideas, my writing, and my general demeanor, they regretted to inform me they couldn't offer me the job. Why? I had misspelled Kurt Cobain in my letter. How Generation X is that?
The point of all of this, of course, is that I don't care. What I do care about is winning my date with Anka and spending the next year of my life as her unpaid, personal assistant. Maybe our generation will be the one to cure the modern plague of defining yourself entirely by your work. It should be easy for me. "No, Dad, I'm not a mooching, chain-smoking, unshaven, pathetic, unemployed waste of Ivy League space. I'm a poet, who just happens to mooch and chain smoke, and I'm so pathetic I can't afford razors. Can I borrow your Shick?"
I do exhibit at least one other defining characteristic of our generation, though: the precious ability to confuse nose-thumbing and rolling with the punches. After I got that call from the magazine, I finally was motivated enough to sit down and write them a letter. I sat down and wrote 25 sentences: "I will not misspell Kurt Cobain's name. I will not..." And furthermore "I will respect my generation's icons. I will..." Finally, I offered to come in to their offices and spell any other major pop-figure's name for them, on the spot.
I'm still waiting to hear from both Anka and the magazine.