Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on November 6, 2008



         You know what almost never works out?  High school romance.  For the most part, high school romances end as predictably as most Hollywood films – except in one case, the story in ends in marriage, and in the other, the story ends with your picture-perfect boyfriend having sex with that really cute Delta Zeta cheerleader from his speech communications class.  Sure, occasionally you’ll get surprised, and this is kind of like the ending to The Sixth Sense – nobody saw that one coming, and if they claim they did, they’re a fucking liar.  But I can count on one finger the number of my happily married friends who started dating in high school.  On the other hand, I’d need all five fingers, plus all ten toes, plus the appendages of six busloads of friends to count the number of high school sweethearts I know of whose relationships ended the other way.  So, just playing the odds, let me tell you that if you are banking on getting married after four years of college (whether you both attend the same school or not), you’d better hope your relationship is FDIC insured – because the odds are the crash is coming, like Black Tuesday, only with more screaming, crying, and throwing shit at each other. 

          You see, here’s the fundamental problem.  Even if you two elect to go the same college, you’re both going to change – a lot – and this is a good thing.  Trust me, you don’t want to be the same person at your ten-year reunion as you were in high school.  For instance, members of my graduating class spent a lot of time on the weekends drinking Natural Light at a place called the cow-dump (which was a long stretch of country road situated between a cattle farm and the county landfill – awesome! I know).  But not so awesome at 28.  Now, I’ll concede that even those who haven’t changed much have moved on to the bars downtown – but this is really just a lateral move, not a move forward.  Maybe they’re happy – but my guess is that if you’re reading this lesson, you don’t want that life.  No, you probably want to experience the great growth that can happen during college, you want to feel the excitement of changing into a more-cultured, more mature person.  But if you embrace this, you must also embrace the fact that seldom do people ever change together – at least not very often between the ages of 16 and 24.  Guys who go into college acting like McLovin often come out acting like Ashton Kutcher; and it’s not unusual for your high school cheerleader girlfriend to come back from school over winter break a PETA-loving, tie-dye wearing hippie.  You just never know what kind of adult butterfly lurks inside your high-school caterpillar self, and if you don’t go through the larval stage of college, you don’t get to find out.  And this unfortunate state of arrested development often becomes even more pronounced in couples that decide to go to different schools, but spend every weekend away from campus visiting their sweetheart back home.  All of the sudden, the rest of the world has passed them by, and they are the metaphorical embodiment of Buster Bluth. 

          So listen, I’m not telling you to break up with your high school sweetheart.  Hell, you might be one of those Sixth Sense couples that makes it all the way.  All I’m telling you is that most of the time, you won’t end up seeing dead people, you’ll just wind up in a dead relationship.  If this happens, know that it’s normal.  Sure it sucks, sure it hurts, but as a consolation prize, you get to start dancing with thousands of other hormonally-driven adolescents without a single parental chaperone to tell you to keep your hands up. 

          *Note: When this lesson originally posted on November 6, it was accompanied by a second, more sentimental, version that was included just for kicks.  All comments referring to the “maple syrup post” refer to this alternate version, which can be accessed by clicking here.

24 Responses

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  1. funktifiedacoustic said, on November 6, 2008 at 2:21 am


    I know that you though I would like the former post over the latter, but it’s just far too sappy. I feel like after reading that post I could impersonate a maple syrup magnate from Vermont. And stick my hair up.

    Seriously, post two could be read on

    I vote for post #1.

  2. funktifiedacoustic said, on November 6, 2008 at 2:22 am

    And by “former post over the latter”, I meant exactly the opposite.

  3. Eli G said, on November 6, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Cow Dump, 137%

  4. seamstress for the band said, on November 6, 2008 at 3:19 am

    I had post #1 play post #2 in an epic match of Cowboy, Ninja, Bear (best of 5) and the winner was post #1, so that’s what I’m going with.

    Oh…and the fact that I, along with funktifiedacoustic, felt that #2 was a bit sappy…what do you think holds it up, slick?

  5. Cooper Manning said, on November 6, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Post #2. And by post #2, I mean post #1.

  6. JohnDoe said, on November 6, 2008 at 3:33 am

    Why not leave it as it is, with both versions?

  7. Msskin said, on November 6, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Post 2 is beautiful – great word choice, descriptions, and symbolism, but….it seems to belong more in one of those three page greeting cards – we’re talking the small print ones – from Hallmark than here (or the upcoming book!).

    Sometimes, there can be too much of a good thing…literary elements included.

    Bye, bye Post #2. Live on, pessimistic relationship guide.

  8. Carlin said, on November 6, 2008 at 3:56 am

    I couldn’t even finish reading version 2.Booo!

  9. Olderand wiserthanmost said, on November 6, 2008 at 4:01 am

    You are right high school romances, more often than not, fail to result in a lifetime commitment.

    My personal experience would belie that statement, having endured long separations and having lasted what to a college student would be eons. However, I have many aquaintances that have lived through both experiences. When it comes to life and love there are no certanties. We must live life and follow where it leads. If you want love to endure, it takes effort. Hey, life takes effort.

    If I was giving advice on the subject you have chosen Dr. Wizard, I would say, “love and see where it takes you.” There is no better experience than loving another human being. And it is possible, even probable that you will love more than once. What ever you do, be prepared to accept what life gives you and learn from it and go on with your life.

    What all this rambling is trying to say is that if you, Dr. Wizard, are giving advice on the path love should take, you will find there is no one path to take.

  10. Bing McGhandi said, on November 6, 2008 at 5:01 am

    M. Knight Shamalamadingdong should be strung up by his thumbs. (In voice of Comic Book Guy: Worst. Screenwriter. Ever.) I mean Signs, for instance. The aliens were defeated by water? Fucking water?!? Did they not notice the big fucking oceans of H20 in their fly-bys? The Sixth Sense (“I see predictable endings”) was horrid. I kind of assumed that he was dead after he got shot, so I didn’t see what the big deal was.


  11. Greece Lightning said, on November 6, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Post 2 needs to disappear like James van der Beek. It’s not that it’s not good, it’s just that the regular Wiz post whizzes all over it.

  12. The Uncle Jesse Fan Club said, on November 6, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Is that cow grazing on spare automotive parts? F-Yeah! And this contest is like a beauty pageant between John Stamos and Dave Coulier.

  13. drwizard said, on November 6, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Funk – nice work with the literal sap. Evidently, if we’re gonna play this game again, I’ve got to write a second version that’s a little more competitive. Right now Version 2 feels like Walter Mondale on election night 1984 – just praying that it’ll carry its home state of Minnesota. And by Minnesota, I mean J. Harris – where you at, dawg?

    Oh – and normally I’m not into revealing who commenters are when I know, but this is just awesome. Older and Wiser – yeah, that’s my Grandpa – showing off both his literary flourish and his technological savvy. It makes me very happy.

  14. drwizard said, on November 6, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I should have left the original ending to version 2 – it was much more “mavericky.” So strike the last sentence and replace it with…

    “And, in the meantime, while you wait for that tree to come along, it can always be fun to explore a little bush.”

  15. Jack's complete lack of surprise said, on November 6, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    I’m not even sure this was a contest, which is not to say that I think #2 is worse. I just think after reading #1, the reader says to himself “I know that whole experience. it is true.” then he reads #2, and can’t really break down the gooey Hallmark feelings he gets, since he has never had them. feelings are scary, and they should remain buried as long as possible.

    I think its like choosing between HBO and the Oxygen Network…

    one, a man can identify with, and have some wild, uninhibeted fun while you’re still young and in shape, and the other leads you to a quaint bed and breakfast in the country every sunday during football season for the rest of your life.

    so there you have it.

  16. Karen said, on November 6, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I agree with Jack. If you had just decided to throw a change-up today and posted only the Maple Syrup version, I would have been like, “oh, that’s nice. This is something completely different.” But then I probably would have thought, “now get back to being Dr. Wizard.”

  17. Green Wave Fever said, on November 6, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I vote for the CowDump, but the matchup, as everyone else is pointing out, is not fair. As any good Mattoonian knows, the battle shouldn’t be between the CowDump and Maple Syrup, it should be between the CowDump and Ronnie Curry’s Pond. Now that would be a war.

  18. UVA Mike said, on November 6, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Bing – that’s funny stuff. Any thoughts on The Village?

    And I vote for number 2, but only out of sympathy.

  19. Gina Palazzo said, on November 6, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Well, I think everyone else has done a good job articulating why Version 1 is the one that belongs in the book, but can I just say that I actually DID like Version 2 in the right circumstances. Whenever my little sister Lauren and her boyfriend Steve inevitably break up, I think I will steal bits and pieces of the Maple Syrup version to help her. I think that because its a little sappier the lesson will stick better for her in that form.

  20. Barry H said, on November 6, 2008 at 11:15 pm


    So I’ve been thinking about this pretty much all day, and here’s what I’m guessing actually went down. On Tuesday night, you watched the Obama acceptance speech, and after peeing yourself from excitement, you decided you wanted to write something poetic. So, you sat down and banged out Version 2. Then you went to sleep, and woke up the next morning realizing you had just written a fucking Hallmark card, at which point you proceeded to write a real version. But, because you’re an Obamaniac, you went ahead and posted Version 2 anyway and pretended like you had been planning to play this game for weeks. Twenty bucks says this is at least 65% true.

  21. MS said, on November 7, 2008 at 2:08 am

    Let’s double down, I’m betting it’s at least 98% true. At least let’s hope that’s what happened. My vote is for #1 (though I’m tempted to say “I want a third story”).

  22. SceH said, on November 7, 2008 at 5:13 am

    If you had gone with “And, in the meantime, while you wait for that tree to come along, it can always be fun to explore a little bush.” at the end of #2 I would have thought that the punchline was well worth the wait. As it is now, I feel that #1 is more fun to read. That being said I would suggest trying to avoid being pigeonholed into writing only one type of response. Sappy/peaceful responses help make the funny ones pack more of a punch.

  23. Greece Lightning said, on November 7, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Uncle Jesse Fan Club: You wrote that “this contest is like a beauty pageant between John Stamos and Dave Coulier.” I’m confused by this.

    Do you mean that Post 1 is like John Stamos and Post 2 is like Dave Coulier, and if this contest were to have the same results as a beauty pageant between the two then clearly Post 1 crushes Post 2?

    Or, do you mean that Post 1 is like Dave Coulier (funny, easy to hang out with, but probably a little bit edgier than people realize because, after all, that Alanis Morissette song is actually about him cheating on her while getting head in a movie theater) and Post 2 is like John Stamos (beautiful, but sickeningly so, and it will take a trip to the ER to revive its career)?

    Please clarify.

  24. The Uncle Jesse Fan Club said, on November 7, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Greece, my intention was to say the former – but your second version I actually like a lot better, unlike the second version of Wiz’s post.

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