I first heard about Artsy Lawless College from La Renarde. She always said college wouldn’t be Reality Travel enough for her, and as soon as HighSchool was over she was going to the far off and exciting Realities of Paris, France. But she did say if she was going to college she’d only go to Artsy Lawless in Just-Outside-NewYorkCity County, New York.
Artsy Lawless is a college about art and lawlessness. Most colleges are Future Adult Training Schools, and they have lotsa Rules to make sure you become one. Like you hafta train to be a specific kind of Adult, like Lawyer-Adult or Doctor-Adult. And you can’t take more than one Art Training class cuz no Adult job will ever need it. And you hafta take a math class so you get used to how boring an Adult job will be. But at ALC they don’t care if their students ever become Adults, and there are almost no Rules. Students can take classes in whatever they want, even if it’s all art.
La Renarde said tons of Reality Travelers went there, and it was a big MeToo Party all the time. I also liked the idea of taking nothing but music classes and getting a real college degree just by writing papers on The Great List of Songs. So that’s where I went.
When I got there tho, nothing was like I thought it would be. Just-Outside-NewYorkCity County was like one endless Downtown OIC(R). It was full of huge and close together rundown buildings with tough-faced MeNotzie types hanging around. The ALC campus was a little island of trees and grass in the middle of it, but you hadta stay in The Dorms and live with a bunch of New Realities. They all came from different far off and exciting places, and looked like no animal I’d seen before. They all seemed like some kinduv ancient Greek mythological creature, half wing&talon bird and half monster-roar lion.
The first night there was a party in The Dorms so all the New Realities could start to MeToo. There was loud music and Alcohol Perception, and Realities gathered in small groups to talk. I joined one of the groups talking about songs. They went around with each Reality saying a song or band they liked, and then everyone else trying to MeToo them. They were all like La Renarde tho, and none of the things they said were Hits on The Radio, and I couldn’t MeToo any of them. When it got to me I knew saying something like Journey or Mariah Carey would be way too risky.
“I like Blondie,” I said.
No one said anything for a second. Then one half bird/half lion started laughing. Then all the others did too. They noticed I wasn’t laughing tho.
“Oh,” a mythological creature said, “he’s actually serious.”
“Old Hits Radio,” another one said, “ew.”
Then everyone started laughing again.
“But I only like the ones they don’t play on The Radio,” I lied, “like ‘Sunday Girl.’”
“But they play so many of their songs on The Radio none of their other songs count,” a classical monster explained.
“Gawd,” another one said, “Blondie’s like ‘Mom-Music.’”
Then everyone laughed the hardest, and I didn’t know what else to do but leave the group and the party and get to Alone Reality right away. It was all going on right outside my room tho, so I hadta go all the way outside. Even out there New Realities were all over the place laughing and drinking and MeNotting things, so I hadta go hide behind some trees so no one could see me at all.
“Ah, thank Gods, I’m back in Alone Reality,” I said to myself.
I was thinking about the horrible mistake I’d just made going to a MeNotzie college instead of a Reality Traveler college and wondering if I was allowed to drive back home to Ohio right away, when I heard a rustling in the trees next to me. It was bigger than a squirrel and heading right towards me. I ducked down so it couldn’t get me, but it did anyway.
“Hey,” it said, “What’s wrong?”
I looked up, and it was not a half bird/half lion but a whole cute-as-a-kitten girl. I didn’t know if she might still be a sneaky scratch-claw kinda cat, and I tried to ignore her, but she didn’t go away.
“It’s alright,” she said. “I’m one of the good ones. You can talk to me.”
Then she reached out her hand.
“I’m Kat,” she said.
I hesitantly shook it and told her my name.
“Nice to meet you,” she said. “You’re new, aren’t you?”
“Well, I’ve been at this place for three years and can tell you everything about it. First thing you need to know is everyone at this school is mean. They all think they’re this thing called a ‘Reality Traveler’ and that makes them better than everyone else. I only go here because I grew up like right next door, and they let you take more than one theatre class. I’m not a Reality Traveler at all.”
I didn’t tell her I was a Reality Traveler, cuz I was getting the sense that everything at the school was backwards, and the Reality Travelers were actually MeNotzies, and the MeNotzies were actually Reality Travelers. It seemed like Kat might be on my side even if she called herself the wrong thing.
“So what’s wrong?” she said. “Why are you out here by yourself?”
Then I told her what happened at the party.
“Yeah,” she said, “they don’t like the same songs as me either. My favorite band is Foreigner.”
Foreigner is a band about being the closest thing to Journey. They both had a lot of hits during the exact same years, and their lead singer Lou Gramm is nearly as high and powerful as Steve Perry.
“I like Foreigner,” I said. “And Journey is actually my favorite band.”
“I like Journey, too,” Kat said. “When I was a kid my dad would drive me places and play The Radio and teach me about all the Good Old Songs.”
“Hey, I would do the same thing with my Mom!” I said.
Then we ended up talking under the trees for a long time.