The notice from Uncle Sam arrived the other day: “Welcome to the Federal Employees Retirement System. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management thanks you for your years of public service and the contributions you have made to America.…We are here to serve you and wish you a long and fulfilling retirement.”
“Retirement”—that’s for old people, isn’t it? How strange that it should now apply to me, a man in the prime of life, hardly into middle age—with just a hint of gray here and there, a barely noticeable bald spot, and an appealingly cherubic-looking double chin! Still, I suppose retirement is one of those milestones on life’s rocky road that call for a bit of reflection, so here goes:
When I arrived at Columbia University, I wore jeans, a dress shirt, and a backpack. I did my best to look like a deer in headlights to convey that I was a college freshman. I wasn’t, of course. But my disguise lacked both an access card to enter any of the buildings and a yellow orientation badge. Getting into Columbia is tough, but for a conservative journalist, getting into Freshman Orientation was tougher.
The main event was “Community Forum,” where first-year students get to “acknowledge the importance of social activism and diversity on campus.” The following day would bring a workshop on sexual health called “Consent and You.” Who would want to miss them? The orientation packet was reassuring in marketing both the events: “Required of all students.”