Never Have I Ever…

When I went off to college back in the Jurassic, there were a whole host of bonding rituals we did in the dorms.  No one was pretentious enough to actually call them “bonding rituals,” of course, and certainly nobody planned them, but that’s what they were.  It was a more social age, and it went without saying that if you were going to be stuck living with a few dozen complete strangers, you’d better hammer out a modus vivendi pretty quick.  Even the obvious “grinders” were forced to participate — you have to leave the library sometime, dorkus, so we need to know what kind of a person we’re bunking with.

One of the most fun was a drinking game called “never have I ever.”*  You say “never have I ever ____.”  Anyone who has ever ___ has to drink, while providing a detailed description of the incident.  Young people back then actually had hormones, so of course a lot of it was sexual… but a lot of it wasn’t, and a funny thing happened: We noticed a clear divide between what are now pretentiously (and rather scarily) called “first generation” students and the others.  The “first generations,” i.e. me and and all my soon-to-be friends, had a lot more experience than the kids whose parents were college grads.

Not just sexual experience, either (I myself was woefully deficient in that, alas, though not for lack of trying).  One of the earliest “questions” was something like “never have I ever been in a fistfight.”  Since getting drunk is half the fun, and telling your story is the other half, the guy who said this obviously intended everyone to drink.  Sure enough, almost everybody chugged… but not the kids with college grad parents.

So, kids being kids, pretty soon the game revolved around getting these goobers to drink.

It was a real challenge!  Never have I ever: cheated on a test.  Skipped class.  Shoplifted.  Smoked weed.  Etc.  Not all of us had done all of those, of course — we were a fairly law-abiding, well-mannered bunch, all things considered — but the alumni kids hadn’t done anything.  Getting them to drink involved epically dorky shit like “never have I ever scored over a 1300 on my SAT” and “never have I ever attended a Boy Scout jamboree” (both 100% real, I swear).  And this was not, let me be clear, at some hoity-toity Ivy League campus.  This was a third-rate public school in one of our less intellectual states.  The simple fact was, any kids who started out in the middle-class pipeline were incredibly sheltered…

And this was half a lifetime ago.  I can’t even imagine what the quivering little mice I taught were like back in high school.  Never have I ever… complained about having to go straight to soccer practice after my violin lesson?

This stuff matters, because it has real world consequences.  One of the reasons they’re stuck in the eternal now, for example, is because history is meaningless to them.  How could it be otherwise?  How can you even start explaining something like Prohibition to a bunch of kids who have never taken a drink?  Or who get blackout drunk every weekend, depending?  They can’t process nuance because they lack context, because they’ve never actually done much of anything.  Their lives go day care – grade school – soccer practice – SAT prep class – college.  They’re never allowed to go off-script, because they’re never ever unsupervised.  And, of course, they think they know everything, because in their world, they do know everything, and have the A+ to prove it.

If you’ve ever wondered how so many college kids could be so gung-ho for a septuagenarian Jew whose platform was laughably unrealistic when Eugene V. Debs was pimping it back in the 1910s, there you go.  Never have they ever done jack squat, but since doing jack squat has gained them nothing but praise their entire lives…

 

 

 

*Ahhhh, Wikipedia.  Of course you have an entry for that, with a link to the closely related “purity test.”  Which was also a blast.  For the benefit of younger readers: There once was a time when young men and women didn’t hate and fear each other.  Back before competitive #Wokeness ruined everything, young people actually enjoyed each other’s company, and — this will shock you, I know — were often on the lookout for mating opportunities.  Both the “purity test” and “never have I ever” were fun, in large part, because they end up being how-to guides for inter-dorm relationships.  Never have you ever ____?  Well, Sally has; why don’t y’all go into the janitor’s closet for a half hour or so and figure it out?
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5 thoughts on “Never Have I Ever…

  1. Rangifer

    It’s not just “First Gen” versus College-Educated parents, it’s also city v. rural. City kids are given an allowance for doing next to nothing (what chores are there in the city when a lawn is the size of a postage stamp?), are driven everywhere they need to go (city buses are so scary!) and parents have few expectations except good grades. Helicopter parents shelter them from everything- history, politics, race, etc and curate what’s left for the “very best experience”.

    Rural kids usually have familial expectations and chores like feeding animals/mucking horse stalls/family harvest, an understanding of how things work/where it all comes from (the meat in the freezer), easy access to transportation/alcohol/firearms/free time and generally earn family trust at a younger age. Most parents set expectations (grades & chores) but once those are fulfilled, spare time is yours.

    High school age and never have I ever…
    Been swimming in a lake? Gone fishing? Tubing behind a tractor? Had to evade a pissed-off moose? Had the butcher visit when it’s Ham-hock and Sirloin’s “time”? Taken Hunter’s Ed? Sighted in a scope? Killed coyotes? Driven a tractor at age 11? Broken an arm, bandage it and find your way home? Pull ticks? Helped Fido into the next life after his hips give out? Lit the burn pile? etc… This is my kids’ life and it’s commonplace for us, but not so for their schoolmates in the urban school district they attend.

    With so few living rural these days, most kids have “lost touch” with anything outside of school and social media. If it’s not on TikTok, Instagram or YouTube then they don’t care and want nothing to do with it. It might involve getting dirty or being responsible for something.

    I think this is why socialism is so attractive. “What? All I have to do is let you be in charge and you’ll give me everything for free?” Of course it’s a good deal to them- they never had any responsibility to begin with, so what’s new? They’re switching from helicopter mom to helicopter government, which for them is easy to do.

  2. Joseph Moore

    If you don’t allow kids to own their failures, you prevent them from owning their successes. No wonder they’re miserable and think socialism is way cool.

    We live among those whose only idea of success is belonging. Getting into all the honors courses and getting into Harvard and getting a job with Uncle Spiff’s law firm *are* the achievement – what else is there?

    Over the last decade, I’ve spent a good chunk of my spare time building stuff out of bricks. A subtle, unconscious protest.

  3. Pickle Rick

    Oh, never have I ever seen such a prissy little bitch in my life as Mitt Romney. It must drive him and Hillary and the professional politicians absolutely batshit insane that the Bad Orange Man beat them at their own rigged game, and despite never once being a politician in his life, nor being one of them, he’s sitting in the White House, where they so desperately wanted, no, DESERVED to be and he’s going to do it again.
    And there’s not a thing they can do to stop him.

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