“What Have You Become?: The Do It Yourself Quiz that Maybe if Your Hippie Parents Had Taken (Seriously) You Wouldn’t Have To,” by Amy York Rubin

Jan 13th, 2010 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

The only thing that used to make you angrier than that jerk who sautéed her chicken in the vegan wok were when pronouns straddled a slash with the “he” unapologetically maintaining the primary position throughout an entire essay. But then you failed to internalize Cornell West. Cornell West started showing up on Bill Maher. And BAM! charter schools were added to professional athlete on some children’s “your only way out” list. And somehow you were fine with that.

At this point it is indisputable that you are indeed going through that change. But it’s not too late. You don’t have to buy from the registry. Good Vibrations offers gift certificates. No one is forcing you to agree that they are indeed the perfect age for babies. And there is certainly no reason to stop re-claiming the C-bomb in daily conversations. But if you don’t stop and look at the monster you’re poised to become today, it could be too late tomorrow.

Answer these seven, simple multiple choice questions and find out just how close you are to furnishing your future McMansion with a handful of Pottery Barn catalogues and some boutique your mother recommended that specializes in monograms.

1.    During casual discussions of the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus package you:

a.    Regurgitate Krugman or Gibbs and are quite decidedly aware that there is no other conceptual approach. If it’s not in your morning talking points, I mean the New York Times, then it’s not a viable option.

b.    Are unable to contribute to the discussion because the frequency in which the word “package” is used in such close proximity to “stimulus” keeps you too internally amused.

c.    Never allow the conversation to progress to the question of the plan’s effectiveness because you do not want to validate the label “Administration,” because that would suggest your complicity with a two-party system.

2.    When your twenty-two year old niece incessantly insists that one out of every two thousand births is indeed an intersexed baby you:

a.    Balk and remind her that as soon as she stops writing “gender queer” on her law school applications you’ll introduce her to the Dean at Georgetown

b.    Throw up a little in your mouth

c.    Direct her to informative online diagrams illustrating how “reconstructive” infant genital surgery has influenced that statistic and misguided her use of the term “queer.”

3.    On the Miss California gay marriage comments you:

a.    Believe that Jon Stewart’s “leave the slut alone” rant is obviously right on the money because Jon Stewart is always right on the money. ALWAYS.

b.    Are too busy re-watching Miss South Carolina’s 2007 ingenious insights about “U.S. Americans’” mapless plight to identify “The Iraq” to move on to this year’s new role model for young girls suffering from anorexia-induced low self-esteem.

c.    Can barely get the words “Loving v. Virginia” and “miscegenation” out fast enough to articulate a comprehendible comparison to what would have happened had Miss California so innocently expressed her personal view that she would prefer that blacks please refrain from marrying whites.

4.    When Netanyahu won you:

a.    Were bummed the Livni didn’t pull through but renewed your AIPAC membership just to be on the safe side. You’re a realist, after all.

b.    Were too immersed in Purim party pre-planning to even try and identify the 157 billion candidates that ran

c.    Spent the following three months mass-emailing Yoni Goodman’s “Closed Zone” video and finding yourself trapped in a lose/lose argument about why using the term “occupation” does not make you a “Palestinian Sympathizer.”

5.    You thought the only “funny” thing about the White House Correspondents Dinner was that:

a.    Everything. God, you love your President. He’s so smart. And fit.

b.    If you squint your eyes and get really close to the Youtube video Wanda Sykes still looks less gay than 85% of the closeted audience about to be recklessly outed by Kirby Dick.

c.    The only time your “fierce advocate” of a President seems willing to comment on the sweeping gay marriage victories is when he’s making gay sex jokes about his senior adviser. Hilarious.

6.    At your college roommate’s engagement party you:

a.    Made one of your most impressive bouquets yet using a paper plate and ribbons from all the tupperware gifts, but were a little peeved that you never get to be the “thank you note” taker.

b.    Played air hockey with her fourteen year-old cousin in the basement until your mom came down to get you. Your mom was not amused.

c.    Staged a sit-in on the front lawn with the catering service. If the sex workers unionized than so can caterers.

7.    Obama is:

a.    Black

b.    White

c.    Obviously this is a trap

Scoring Key & Recovery Recommendations:

Mostly A’s: You’re practically your mother. After, long after, Woodstock. Not before.

Look, I’m not going to sugar coat this. You have a lot of work to do. You tossed over the steering wheel of your life to the whims of cultural validation and it’s not going to be easy to wrangle that wheel out of His arthritic, hegemonic hands. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I suggest immediately employing, ironically, the Chicago Boys approach. You will need to spend an entire weekend shocking yourself into a suitable state of numbness from which you can then begin the rebuilding process. Your shock therapy schedule might include several hours at Pottery Barn, perhaps a long lunch at the Cheescake Factory, an early afternoon pedicure and of course some type of ‘tini with the ladies from your yoga class. Keep this up until Sunday evening and then by Monday afternoon you should be ready to revisit the Scum Manifesto with highlighter in hand, return your speed-dating coupon and re-join the co-op.

Mostly B’s: You’re practically your mother. At Woodstock. Perpetually.

You have certainly veered off track but luckily your sensory receptors seem to have absorbed very little over the last ten years so it’s really not that big of a deal. At this juncture in your life my only recommendation is to treat yourself a little. Splurge. You have a job. And very little social expenses. Cancel your Jdate subscription and put the money into something that you know will actually make you happy, instead of something that can only ever fulfill you in theory.

Mostly C’s: You’re practically your mother. Had she decided to move west instead of southeast after Woodstock.

Not Bad, C, not bad. You have managed to stay focused in spite of a full-fledged multi-lateral attack by an army of culturally normative soldiers. You are a true warrior. You are also exhausted. You don’t know how much longer you can keep up the fight. Lately, you are even starting to wonder why fight at all. Why not just surrender to the masses and bathe yourself in the societal approvals that will inevitably flow like the sangria at your bff’s engagement party. You are experiencing these impulses not because surrender is imminent but because you’re a lone solider, left by your comrades on a desolate battlefield. You need to find your battalion. Or perhaps you need to organize a new one. Don’t waste any more time. Stop staring at the onsies in the window. It’s a mirage. And for god’s sake, don’t let the public service debt-repayment plans lure you into their grip – it’s a trap. Turn and run. You will find others eventually. But for now, just run.


Amy Rubin refuses to write in the third person. I grew up in the urban sprawl of McLean, Virginia. A suburb outside of Washington D.C. that boasts absolutely no character. I am a producer of things such as documentaries, docu-series, web videos, and various sorts of digital content. I recently started a business that provides similar services, called Strategic Productions. When I am not feeling ashamed for sometimes referring to myself as a consultant (primarily for NGOs, politicians, and a few actual companies), I enjoy attempting standup comedy and improv and devouring dlisted like a hapless fiend.

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