Ming the Mechanic:
Significant Experiences

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Significant Experiences2003-12-31 14:34
picture by Flemming Funch

Somehow, as I was thinking of new year resolutions, this came to mind. Well, I'd like to have an interesting and meaningful life, and creativity is always a way of getting the juices flowing. A fellow named Hugh Gallagher wrote the following when he was seventeen, as an answer to a question in a college application.

"I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently.

Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row. I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing. I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook 30-minute brownies in 20 minutes.

I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello. I was scouted by the Mets. I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire.

I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life, but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven.

I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But, I have not yet gone to college."
The essay also won him a Scolastic Writing Award in 1990, appeared in Harper's and has been very widely circulated in e-mail since then, often without author attribution. In case anybody should have heard this is an urban legend, he insists he did send it to colleges.

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1 Jan 2004 @ 11:54 by george dafermos @ : fabulous....
piece of writing indeed! and it's such a blatant lie, that i suppose even college admission officers were amused, and fascinated by it. one thing i'm left wondering is whether this helped him get into college.....  

1 Jan 2004 @ 14:28 by ming : College
Normally the story is that it got him admitted, but I haven't seen that confirmed. Yeah, I'm sure even hardened college admission offers would appreciate the skill and humor there.  

11 Jan 2004 @ 21:02 by Dr. P. Kirsch @ : college essay
the question begs "how much of the essay is true, to some extent?" I have always felt he was embellishing ordinary experiences. As in open-heart surgery meaning the high school frog dissection, and experience in roles in school plays affording the sets described as foreign. Or, is the whole essay truly fictitious?  

11 Jan 2004 @ 22:05 by swanny : Most Rich
Most rich indeed and cultured for so young....



12 Jan 2004 @ 03:56 by ming : Truth
After I had read it a few times, I started wondering too. It does make sense in a way as real ordinary experiences, fancifully embellished. Which would kind of make it better, as it shows a great way of relating to the world. Maybe he got a parking ticket in Peru, met an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas, and maybe he just closed the windows in the train station because it was cold. But he sure gets more out of it than most.  

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2008-02-21 13:04: A Samurai’s Creed
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