Inert Gas

According to a new study ... college students who use [Facebook] have significantly lower grade-point averages ... than those who do not. --Time Magazine

Tuesday in chemistry class DR. FLEISCHMAN says he’s giving us a quiz on inert gases. I think, “I have so got this knocked, because the answer is "I am argon." I’m impulsive, and I talk a lot when I’m nervous, but I have a core of kindness that draws others to me—argon, right? And then he passes the quiz out, and there’s nothing about my qualities on the whole thing.    

Dr. Fleischman  may wonder why some of his student evaluations aren’t very good. Maybe it's  because he gives such dumb quizzes.

But tonight this really special thing happens. I’m walking past the library, and the doors are open, and there’s this golden kind of light coming out of them and falling on the library steps, almost like it’s beckoning to me. Also, next to the doors, there’s a statue of a famous smart guy from history, and his face is all lined with wisdom, and you can tell he had a great life because he knew so much. It’s this very cool moment. So I become a fan of the doors, the light, the steps, and the smart guy, and then I go to Jeremy’s party.   

Jeremy’s party is pretty good. I give KEVIN GRADY a One Night Stand using Long Island Iced Teas.  KEVIN GRADY would be a much more inert gas than he probably thinks he would be.    

Friday morning I start doing my European History paper, but I stop after a few minutes, because this is a time in my life when there’s so much going on, and I have to balance. My friends are important too. I now have 1,804 friends.

So I go outside, and Nick, Bethany, and Sara are in the quad. They’re talking about bosons, which is this completely confusing thing we’re covering in physics. I'm not sure if they're animals or people or what. Bethany says, “So two bosons can occupy the same space, right?”    

And Nick says, “Yeah, if they have the same energy.”    

Sara says, "Wait, I still don't get it."

Then there are six more comments, but I don’t listen to them, and then Sara smiles like her eggplant just came up in Farmville and says, “You guys, this is great! I finally understand bosons!”

I'm going to go right home and friend bosons.

Tomorrow is econ class. I will / will not attend.


Charlie Haas’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Threepenny Review, and Narrative Magazine. His novel "The Enthusiast"  is published by Harper Perennial.

April 21: " 'Pull' includes 'invitations to tea' at which one hears smiling reminders that a better life is available to people who stop talking about massacres..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.