What is Judgment Day? Is it when you go to meet God or G-d or Buddha or Gaga or Rob Lowe before he had that wig or Bernadette Peters or Bernadette Peters in Rob Lowe’s wig? Yes. Maybe. Or is it Judgement Day? Or is it Judge Mint Day, a holiday where we crown Judge Mint (whosoever has the talent for determining the best mint flavor) and we allow him or her to decide who among us goes to heaven and who haunts reasonably priced mojitos at a Fairfield Marriott and ruins the marriage of “that guy in sales” for all eternity (in this scenario, “we” are all mint plants, and “that guy in sales” is Rob Lowe)? No. Judgment Day is not like that. But I do hope Judge Mint Day happens just as described (Rob Lowe will be played by Bernadette Peters in Rob Lowe’s wig).
I’m pretty sure Judgment Day comes at a different time for everyone, like SIDS, but is basically the day where the cosmic force for order decides whether you will succeed at every thing you do or whether you won’t. In order to continue reading this post, you should probably believe that there is a cosmic force for order, or at least pretend to believe. It’s like a passive-aggressive, Choose-Your-Own Adventure novel, where you either believe in what is happening (and have an adventure!) or you stop reading and worry about what quitting says about you.
There are obviously people who succeed at everything they do (Della Reese). But those people are so rare that even when you see them, you don’t because they’re rare and you don’t live where angels live (Della Reese). Everyone else has a Judgment Day in their lives where they realize that some level of failure is inevitable. For many, this failure comes when they try to achieve metatheatricality in their first tumblr post (SUCKAS, clearly not me, because you can see what I just did, also this is not my first post [MORE META]). For me, the earliest failure of which I am acutely aware was at the National Geographic GeoBee at Avon Middle School in the year of our Lord (Della Reese) 2002.
I love trivia because I enjoy masking my lack of marketable skills with a quick and inaccurate reference to Corazon Aquino. I also don’t like talking about things I haven’t heard of, but I do like saying, “Oh, I’ve heard of that,” and then making the conversation about how smart I am. Thusly, the National Geographic GeoBee at my middle school was the perfect way for me to engage with something on an extremely superficial level but still prove that I was and am very smart.
If you win the GeoBee (as it will henceforth be called), you are deemed worthy of attending the state competition (henceforth going to State [not like Michigan State or when Honduras becomes a state or state penitentiary or “State of Grace” which was an underappreciated sitcom on ABC Family]). Going to State, I assume, is accompanied by a ride in a hansom cab, a complimentary Tom Ford tuxedo, the ability to digest Double Stuf Oreos as lean protein, and 16,000 boyfriends give or take the “friends” part. Alas, I do not know if that is what going to State entails. I never made it.
My middle school also served as the prime recruiting ground for the Future Fans of LMFAO, so I was desperate to ride the sweet gravy train of the GeoBee as far as it would take me. In sixth grade, I was eliminated from competition on a question about the nuclear waste dumping grounds in China (No Child Left Behind MY A** [don’t leave your children behind any adult male a**]). In seventh grade, I was ill. Nothing but a nuclear disaster or Hepatitis C could keep me from the GeoBee, so let’s assume I had Hepatitis C (as all my fellow students/doctors assumed). Finally, in eighth grade, with all my elder competitors graduated or pregnant or both or neither, I knew I would win. The only possible obstacle was my all-time rival, and you can’t even call her that because she only beat me in vocabulary tests because she was allowed to use an electronic translator, Angela Chen (her name has been changed to protect the innocent or simply to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a customs officer at Ellis Island).
On the day of the all-school final competition in eighth grade, I knew I would win because I always won everything. And I mean everything. I was a little brat with an anger management problem who one time tackled a much smaller girl in indoor kickball because I thought if she dropped the ball I would be safe. She was the pitcher. I even won the genetic lottery by inheriting my mother’s hips and not my father’s eggplant-shaped midsection. I was unstoppable at even a chemical level.
As you can tell by the introduction I gave her, Angela Chen was my last competitor standing by the end of three rounds of inappropriately difficult geography questions (In what country is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct? Which country launched the Winter War against Finland in 1939 after shelling its own city of Mainilia? Who is Tierra del Fuego?). The last round promised to be much easier as it was America-centric and Angela was a Godless (I assume) non-American and I was just a Godless American. None of the questions were about Godfullness.
My final round question about the Civil War was written either by a good ol’ show queen with a soft spot for the Golden Age of American Cinema or by a good ol’ boy with a soft spot for the Golden Age of American Racism. The fact that I struggled with it is very disappointing as I try not to disappoint either of those demographics out of fear of bodily harm. These 10 long years later, the only thing I can remember about that fateful question is everything: “What city did General Sherman burn to the ground on his March to the Sea?” Any 13 year-old gay boy in suburban Connecticut worth his weight in confectioner’s sugar (about 26 pounds, soaking wet) knows the answer to that question. He knows the answer to that question because he has seen Gone with the Wind enough times to know the answer to that question (one time is enough times to know the answer to that question). The answer to that question is Savannah, GA.
“No? Not Savannah? Isn’t there a scene in Gone with the Wind where Scarlett goes to Savannah for some reason? Probably for pretty dresses?” “Doesn’t matter, 13 year-old gay boy. Get out of here, and don’t be late for West Side Story rehearsal where no one has the heart to tell you that your New York accent as Riff sounds like a drowning Bobby Kennedy. The answer is Atlanta.”
Atlanta. Land of Coca-Cola and land of World of Coca-Cola. It also sounded like Angela. The other thing that sounded like Angela was “GeoBee Champion,” because that’s what she was. Her question was something about the Freedom Trail in Boston. That’s a question I easily could have answered because there isn’t a Clark Gable film about the burning of Boston (which, come to think of it, isn’t a bad idea). I’m not sure if her electronic translator helped her, but if the translation of “crusher of little boy’s dreams” in Korean is “Angela Chen,” then her translator works perfectly.
I have no idea where Angela Chen is today. I prefer to think that her encyclopedic knowledge eventually led to interminable geographic ennui, and she can no longer analyze the topography of Aconcagua without entering a post-modern shame spiral in which her shame manifests itself as calories and she’s fat. But I know this is not true. I know because of a very brief Facebook search that Angela Chen is either working for Agilent Technologies (career gurrrrrrl, amirite?), has changed her name ever-so-slightly to Angela Cheng, or is a 12 year-old South Korean with a profile picture of heart clouds that I’m sure are meant to be cute but look terrifying. So, no matter what, she’s doing fine (she could still be fat).
Therefore, I am currently unemployed because I lost the GeoBee in eighth grade. But I am OK with being unemployed also because I lost the GeoBee in eighth grade. Judgment Day came and went, and I know that failure is inevitable, especially due to (as a writing teacher would one day tell me) my emotional unavailability and my reliance on pop-culture references (Corazon Aquino/Della Reese). There is always a Clark Gable movie or a Korean girl with an electronic translator waiting in the wings to strike me down. But I’ll cheer up! I’ll work hard, because nothing will be handed to me other than maybe a paycheck and maybe an engagement ring. From a man. In Wyoming (sorry to get political, but I’m not gay I just want to get gay married!!!!).
Angela Chen is the reason I both believe in and don’t believe in these Occupy movements. I support OWS because I’m pretty sure my sister has it, but also because I lost the GeoBee. Everyone fails, and it’s nobody’s fault but your own. Therefore, if you work hard, you should be able to succeed. But for those same reasons, I don’t want to believe in OWS. And as for things I don’t want to believe in, that is a very long list (spoiler alert: Angela Chen’s not being fat is numbers 1-23 (the number 23 is Angela’s lucky number because I assume she loves that Jim Carrey movie because it has a 7.9 score on Metacritic and I’ll take those odds)). I believe that everyone should have a chance to succeed no matter who they are, where they’re from, or how they were born (backwards, frontwards, or butt). So, if OWS is about giving everyone a fair shot, then I’m for it. But if OWS is about blaming the government or banks or what have you for failures, then all those protestors are relying too much on their electronic translators. Maybe they’ve just never had a Judgment Day, or maybe they had a Judge Mint Day and didn’t understand it because of Bernadette Peters’ slurring her words. And then there’s nothing we can do but give her a different wig.