“So, Stracy,” the interviewer began, “tell me something about yourself.”
Tracy sighed. She’d always known that it was important to her parents that she get into a good college… but she’d never have guessed at the true depths of their determination. Not until the first-stage acceptance letter arrived with a small typo.
“No, no, don’t correct it!” her parents had insisted. “Do you want to put yourself at a disadvantage this early in the process?”
But… but that’s not my name. I like being Tracy Sargent.
“You can correct your R.A. on the day you move in. But not before!”
And so she had kept up the charade. In mail, she was Stracy. In person, she was Stracy. Even the nametag clipped to her blouse read—in a happy font—“Hello, my name is Stracy!”
She hated it.
“Miss Argent?” the interviewer prompted.
“Oh, sorry,” Tracy said, collecting herself again.
She went on to tell a tale of the time that she had stabilized the broken leg of a fellow soccer player during a match. Revealing only at the end that the player was on the other team added an emotional denouement to the story, she felt. One that would surely demonstrate her “strength of character” and “depth of empathy.” Both of which she was told to keep in mind when making the story up.
Even as she was speaking, her own words washed over her with no effect. Is it possible to block out the droning sound of your own voice? It would surely be a mark against her to be bored to sleep by her own story.
All this could have been avoided if she’d just had some coffee before she drove onto campus. But again struck the paranoia parents.
“Of course they’re going to make you take a drug test! You’re going to pee into a thousand cups before they’ll let you in.”
Caffeine isn’t a controlled substance. Not even for athletes. I’ll just drink enough to be able to concen—
“There’s going to be nothing in your test but 100% clear, clean urine, young lady,” was the response. Followed by a strict regimen of 8 full glasses of water per day.
How glad she would be to be free of them, living on campus. Freeer, in any case. Being only an hour away was a problem to be left to Future Tracy, that chump.
Oh, but Future Tracy could drink all the coffee she wanted.
Tracy could see her now, greedily clutching a tall Americano. With every life-giving sip, more caffeine would be delivered to her bloodstream. It would fool her body’s nerve cells into thinking that it was adenosine, and bind to the adenosine receptors. Lacking actual adenosine, the nerve cells would speed up their actions, triggering the pituitary gland to release more adrenaline. The “fight or flight” response would kick in to a small degree, delaying or even preventing the onset of drowsiness.
What a bitch.
But all of that was fantasy, or at least not real yet. For now, she was stuck here. Playing a character named Stracy Argent.
She wanted to scream.
She wanted to flip the desk and scream, “My name is not Stracy! It’s Tracy! If you hadn’t screwed up the spelling in the first place, the lies wouldn’t have compounded!”
She took a deep breath and continued, “And I don’t care that much about academics! My parents would have conniptions if they knew that I just want to come here because you have a great soccer program! I mean, it’s not as though I’ll slack off in my studies, but that’s not where my passion lies!”
“I can see that now,” the startled interviewer said.
His words snapped Tracy out of her reverie.
Looking down, she could see that the desk was unflipped, but she had practically climbed on top of it. And the hoarse tickle in her throat told her that she had, indeed, been yelling.
“Eh, heh,” she wanly giggled.
She stepped down from the desk and settled back into her chair. Face burning with well-earned embarrassment, Tracy’s eyes locked on to a particular bit of paisley on her interviewer’s tie. She didn’t dare look up. What was she going to tell her parents…?
“So, Tracy,” the interviewer began again, “tell me something about… soccer.”