Chicken and Waffles
By Peter Stein, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, May 4, 2012
This is the story of the tortoise and the hare.
I’ve only ever heard a few true stories. “I just didn’t do, like, anything today, dude. I literally sat on my computer for six hours. Thought about masturbating. And then just took a nap instead.” I trust that one. It’s probably true. That guy probably did sit on his computer for six hours, think about masturbating and then just pass out. That’s a myth that I can believe in.
There was once a tortoise and a hare. There were probably other animals around, too, but this story isn’t about them, so they don’t really matter. Stories are usually better if you can keep track of all the characters. That’s why Facebook kind of weirds me out now. I have no idea who the hell half these people are anymore. Seeing a friend’s little sister in a revealing black dress and “f*ck me” pumps with a bottle of Jaeger in one hand and a cigarette in the other is quite a twist. A dark turn. It’s like “The Sixth Sense,” but it’s much scarier.
So, as you probably guessed, the tortoise and the hare decided to race. They were both on the rowing team. Or maybe the baseball team. Or maybe the math team. Or maybe they weren’t on a team. I don’t really remember. I didn’t know them that well. They did, however, want to race. That much is true.
The hare was kind of crazy. Well, everyone’s kind of crazy, but some people are crazier. I like the craziest kinds. Because they’re more fun and you always know what they’re going to do next. The tortoise was more reasonable. More plodding. A planner. A thinker. A weekend-only drinker. The hare didn’t care. The hare was just into doing his own thing. Or her own thing. I can’t remember again.
The hare lived for the present. It lived for the immediacy of the moment. The tortoise lived for the future. It was going to be around for a long time, so why not plan for it? The hare had an ego. But sure, everyone does. And the hare knew that on some level his immediacy and urgency was just a mask, though he didn’t know what for. Maybe it was Halloween. Or maybe it wasn’t a mask at all. My memory’s shot.
The hare hated stopping. Always. Because he didn’t need to. Because he had caffeine. And, on occasion, he had Adderall. And he didn’t really like eating. Because it was just a waste of time. The tortoise was a bit more real. Things were grounded. The tortoise actually bothered to sleep. And relax. The hare relaxed aggressively. Because it’s intense. It’s extreme. And the hare used to be really into action sports, so he was kind of into that.
The tortoise knew how to take a break. The hare didn’t. The tortoise knew how to decompress. The tortoise knew how to calm down. The tortoise knew how to take its time. The hare thought that even considering the idea of time was silly because the hare was fast. The hare knew he’d be able to finish anything because nothing ever turned the hare off. What could?
They set a day for the race. And a place. They picked the Green. Or maybe Chi Gam. Or maybe Kemeny. Or maybe Novack. Doesn’t matter. People were excited. Well, maybe only one or two. Because they were their friends. And you have to be there for your friends. It’d be a bummer if you weren’t. Because hanging with friends is fun. Not as fun as scrambling with friends, but you get the point.
The hare funneled a Full Throttle and a four-shot mocha and started running. The tortoise took its time. The hare was fast. Really fast. Really, really fast. The tortoise was not. The hare took a break to grab some drinks and play a few games of pong and smoke a blunt and dive in the river and make a T-shirt and grab some more drinks and throw a party and build a website and build a chair and play some lax and grab some more drinks. The tortoise did not.
The tortoise was focused. The tortoise had a plan. The tortoise looked into the future. The tortoise saw itself in five years. In 10 years. In 20 years. The tortoise saw its kids. It saw their kids. It saw its house. It saw a dog and graduations and barbecues and white picket fences and baptisms and bar mitzvahs and weddings and funerals. It saw life. The hare saw the ground in front of it. It saw to the horizon, but not much further. Of course it had dreams, but things could always change. Why commit to a plan when life is so completely, utterly, fantastically, catastrophically random that you can’t hope to predict the future? You can’t know where you will go or who you will meet. Better leave room in your life for some coin flips. Still, a coin flip only lasts a moment. After that, it’s gone. Moments are fast. Even faster than the hare.
I don’t remember who won. But that wasn’t the point, was it?