Bateman: Make a difference — be a dumbass

By Oliver Bateman

So here it is, as promised: the last one of these things. So here it is, as promised: the last one of these things. I’ve been writing them for three years, always in the first-person plural, but today I’m putting a stop to that. I’m not stopping it because I’ve had enough; I could write Moustache Columns for another three decades, thereby keeping alive the memory of Madden cover model manqué Peyton Hillis long after his playing career has ended. But because I want to use this column as a way of delivering the commencement address I’ll never have the opportunity to give “IRL” (i.e., “eye-are-ell”). Enjoy!

As you approach the end of your first year in college, or your second, or your seventh, or however many it’s taken you to coast toward that “cake” degree in whatever “blow-off” major happened to present you with the most late-afternoon classes, it behooves you to consider how you might go about making a difference in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours. Oh Oscar, you’re probably thinking as you read this, there’s no way some nobody like me could do anything as impressive and Fox News-worthy as making a difference. To which I say: au contraire, mon frère. Or I would if this were an actual speech, which it isn’t, and if it were possible for a person with a Southwestern Pennsylvania-West Virginia accent like mine to pronounce those words, which it isn’t.

In fact, we’ve seen over the course of the past few weeks just how easy it is for someone to make a difference. One person, left unattended in a public restroom, has managed to bring a university with thousands of employees and a $2 billion endowment to its knees. One person, using nothing but a pencil or a stylus or whatever he/she scribbled those bomb threats with, has cost students at this University thousands of dollars in wasted tuition money and may singlehandedly bring about the removal of the doors from all campus restroom stalls.

This brings me to my next and even more important point: the easiest way to make a difference is to be a complete dumbass, so be glad you haven’t succeeded at gaining this sort of notoriety. Think of the movers, shakers and headline makers from the past few years: Snooki, Joseph Kony, Herman Cain, the person or persons behind these bomb threats. They’re all extraordinary dumbasses, and they’re all getting way more coverage than you are.

What’s left for you to do, then? As you embark on your tedious journey down the straight-and-narrow highway that will lead you to boring, anonymous and thoroughly respectable adulthood, there’s one easy and incredibly short-sighted way for you to opt out: doing the dumbest thing imaginable under the circumstances, in the process becoming a living “legend” on par with Antoine Dodson, Old Long Johnson, the various people who have been beaten up by deer and other animals in YouTube videos and the guy who made that “You’re the Man Now, Dawg” website back during Yasmeen Bleeth’s heyday.

Here’s a multiple-choice hypothetical for you: You’re scheduled to take the LSAT. On the day of the test, you

A) fail to show up because you’ve been up all night playing Madden 2012 with your best bros, then lie and tell your parents (who paid for the test) that you took it.

B) show up and bubble in the answers in such a way that it looks like you’ve formed a phat phrase (“Suck It”) or a clever picture (a big dong).

C) drink two cups of coffee, show up on time, work carefully on each problem and wind up scoring in the 169 to 172 range, thereby punching your ticket to a decent law school and possibly even a fulfilling, meaningful and totally not-made-for-MTV future as a “square.”

D) make a bomb threat and close that testing center the F down.

Answer A is undoubtedly inviting since that’s what any chill broham in his right mind would do. But brahski, this ain’t 2000-and-late, and nobody’s going to give you style points for sitting around on your vomit-stained couch with your big fat $5-pizza-pie-inflated gut hanging out over your filthy, not-so-loose sweats. B also might strike you as extremely swagalicious, but it’s unlikely that the proctor and the Scantron machine are going to get much of a kick out of it. C is clearly the right answer — the sort of thing that somebody who gives a shit would do. But hey, if you’re an idiot, why would you want to do the right thing, and thereafter, embark on a comfortable, rewarding lifestyle that takes full advantage of the tremendous privileges (attending a good college, not being born into horrendous poverty in a war-torn country, etc.) that you’ve been afforded?

However, the absolute wrong answer here — the wrongest of wrong answers, when you think about it — is to choose option D, thereby making the stupidest, most screwed-up move you possibly can. Hey, this is a world where everything is easy, forgettable, pointless and over in 15 minutes. Why not just mess around with a bunch of other people’s lives, especially those silly, trying-to-do-the-right-thing “squares” who selected option C? Carpe diem, bros!

After all, it’s very unlikely that anybody will ever notice when you do the right things, like showing up on time for interviews or earning good grades on papers and tests. Even if they do notice, the recognition you’ll receive will pale in comparison to what some drunk pro athlete gets when he plows his Humvee into a minivan driven by a totally unremarkable mother of four who has also always tried to do the right things.

The only thing that a lifetime of doing the right things while simultaneously trying to avoid doing the dumbass things will earn you is the ability to live with yourself, to sleep soundly at night, to take pride in your modest accomplishments.

How much is a good night’s sleep worth to you, true believers?

Oliver Lee Bateman ([email protected]) used to write the much-beloved Moustache Column of America, but no longer. You can keep reading his work at the Moustache Club of America ( and at the Good Men Project (, where he now serves as sports editor. He tries his best not to be a complete dumbass and sincerely hopes that you will, too.