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The ripening fruit

Brooks Smith | Monday, April 19, 2010

With the debate on God terminating as smoothly and inconclusively as anyone could have hoped, I found myself completely at a loss for suitable subjects for snark. My own religious beliefs being exactly as absurd and unjustifiable as everybody else’s, I had hoped to poke some mildly mean-spirited fun at the militant in the (a)/theist camps while carefully obscuring my own weak points with clever rhetoric.

As I reflected on the situation, I grew weak with shame. Was I just another Amelie Gillette (writer of The Onion’s “Hater” column), to make increasingly bland jokes at the expense of increasingly easy targets? No, I decided: I was a Serious Writer, with accompanying capital letters. After having some business cards printed (“Brooks Smith: Serious Writer/Math Enthusiast”), I sat down at the keyboard of my three-year-old, hence obsolete, Dell PC (down with Mac) and wrote the most personal, honest and original Viewpoint of my career on the subject of getting “old.”

Having no experience in the real world, I have to peg the aging process to milestones in my scholastic development, which up until now has been a breeze. The formula for my success: Be intelligent, write papers the night before, occasionally do homework, hope the teacher likes me. Unfortunately, the latest milestone has been a doozy: I find a larger and larger portion of my time allocated not to the completion of busywork, but to exercises quite taxing to my intellect.

In fact, I have finally reached that point, in both my mathematical and English development, at which it no longer suffices to coast upon my innate intelligence and interest and actual effort must be invested to continue to progress toward life after college. Here I use the word “life” to mean “the lifestyle to which my parents have paid for me to become accustomed,” and the phrase “after college” to denote an unimaginable and probably purely theoretical state of being. The most distressing development of all this is that I have begun to detect, in my own person, signs of maturity. This is the most complex idea of all, and rather than disposing of it in a semi-witty phrase I have resolved to devote almost the whole of the next paragraph to it.

Maturity is the state, frighteningly real and imminent for me and possibly for quite a few of my classmates, in which the pleasant reveries about life as it could be (and as I would find it quite pleasant to be) are quite rudely puffed away by the cold north wind of reality and I am left to face life as it is — naked and unclothed, without even the warmth and comfort of a North Face jacket. In this state all of the wistful little ideals and dreams I have cherished, say about making love to somebody with the body of Angelina Jolie, the face of Zooey Deschanel and the intellect and temperament of Susan Hampshire, disappear and I find myself instead making love to somebody with the intellect of Angelina Jolie, the temperament of Zooey Deschanel and the body of Margaret Thatcher.


I have therefore titled this column “The ripening fruit,” not to invite comparisons to those unpleasant brown spots on bananas after you leave them sitting around for a few days, but as a metaphor for maturity.

This is a column on aging gracefully.

This is a prolonged meditation on whether or not I will need to throw out my Daft Punk records at age 30 because I have “outgrown them.”

This is a column exploring how successfully I will avoid becoming a rigid and calcified self-parody.

This column raises the question of whether or not it’s too late for me to get on track to being a “cool dad” or gonzo journalist.

This is a column on commitment: to a career, to a person, to a new hairstyle with goofy sideburns.

This is an essay on the mating habits of Hungarians, if they don’t cut that part out of the final product. [Viewpoint: We did.]

This column is so over.


Brooks Smith is a junior math and English major at Notre Dame. He can be contacted at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.