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Hyperion April 19, 2001

#36 An unexpected lesson

Nobody ever did anything very foolish except from some strong principle.

-Lord Melbourne

A few days ago, a friend of mine invited me to go see the Premiere of a Tom Green movie. For those of you who don’t know, Green has a show on MTV, and has made his fame by humiliating people on camera; everyone from complete strangers to his own parents. I don’t find his humor as funny as most, but I figured anyone in the movie knew what they were getting into, and it was a free ticket to a movie premiere, which is always a cool thing.

The movie turned out much as I thought it would: not much plot, plenty of gross out scenes, and a few hilarious moments. It was, however, what took place outside of the movie that interested me most. In the spirit of Tom Green, the radio station that hosted the premiere was giving away tee shirts and the like to people willing to do gross things. For example, one girl had to lick the stomach of an overweight gentleman. I think she got concert tickets to some band I had never heard of.

Finally, the radio guys came to the cardboard stand-up for the movie. You know, the ones you see at the movie theaters. This proved to be a popular item, and quite a few of the audience was interested-until they heard the conditions for winning. The host picked out some guy wearing sandals, and announced that whomever wanted the stand-up cardboard had to suck on the guy’s toes for the longest. I know; disgusting, but hey, when in a Tom Green movie…

Well, you would think that this condition would limit the field to just the inebriated, but there were two sober people, both teenagers (who would have guessed that?) who were quite determined to win that movie cardboard. They both took turns, lasting about a minute apiece; neither willing to give up. It was time to start the movie then, so the somewhat perplexed radio guy announced that the pair would have to continue their contest during the movie, and the one who lasted the longest would win the prize.

I sat right in front of the radio guy, so I was privy to his treks at fifteen-minute intervals to see how the contestants were doing. Each time Radio Guy would return, amazed at the fortitude of the players. The movie finally ended, but we had no winner. By this time, half the audience was more interested in the outcome of this gruesome grudge match, and we all crowded around the two suckers, and a very embarrassed man with clean feet. The theater wanted us to clear out, so they could show a movie to a paying audience, so the contestants were pulled away. They were both offered concert tickets and cash, but neither would budge on their determination to win the cardboard. Finally, it was decided to end the affair with Ro-Sham-Bo (Rock, Paper, Scissors for those of you from Connecticut), and we had one very happy eighteen-year-old boy, and one inconsolable sixteen-year-old girl.

What struck me about the whole affair was not the ridiculousness of the contest, but the pure determination of the two combatants. Think about it. To me, to you, to anyone not French, both of these kids seem a little crazy. But what makes any of us any different? Your goal to get a job, buy a home, get into a good college, or take over the world is going to be seen by someone as absurd. All of our hopes and dreams are right and just to us and strange to someone else. But these two kids, in spite of the obvious “yuck” factor, were willing to make sacrifices to get what they wanted. Would that we Could be like them. And no, I don’t mean we should go out and practice random acts of toe hygiene. What I mean is that we should be so dedicated, so purposeful, to be willing to do whatever we have to do, to achieve our goals. And whether your goals consist of a cardboard movie poster, Harvard Law School, or the capital of Iceland, we could all learn much from a couple of kids.

Until the next Tom Green movie,

April 19, 2001


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