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 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.