I discovered today that my university (UC Davis) has a facility called The House. Although it sounds like a Soviet reeducation facility, it’s actually a place where you can go to discuss your problems with peer counselors, people near your own age who understand the problems of young people nowadays.
I’m actually older than most of my schoolmates, but not enough to explain my total detachment from their reality. If I became a peer counselor, it would be disastrous. It would probably go something like this:
Distraught girl: I just broke up with my boyfriend.
Me: How terrible. Tell me about it.
Distraught girl: We started going out six months ago, and at first he was great, but then he started hitting me. <choked sob> And I always got the feeling he didn’t really respect me. He said one time “If we’d met before you were in college, you wouldn’t be in college. You’d be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen.”
Me: How despicable. You were right to leave him.
Distraught girl: And he never put down the toilet seat!
Me: Okay. I’m failing to see how that follows from what you said before, but okay, we’ll accept as an axiom that that’s a crime on the level of misogyny and domestic abuse.
Distraught girl: But the worst part is, I still love him! I really need some help. How do you stop loving loser guys?
Me: I don’t know. But I think this book can help you. It has answers to every question you might have, and solutions to every problem, or at least an approximation algorithm if your problem is NP-complete. It’s called The Art of Computer Programming.
Distraught girl: Where can I find a solution to my problem?
Me: In Chapter 10. Unfortunately, Knuth won’t be finished with that volume for another fifty years. But until then, can I interest you in statistical tests of randomness, or are Latin squares more your thing?
Maybe it’s just a general rule that both English majors (which I used to be) and CS majors (which I now am) live in their own alternate realities where Wordsworth or Knuth has the answer to every problem.