Many a year ago, when I still had about me the sprightly air of youth, I had felt myself most fortunate to have secured entrance into a finishing school where I was to polish those homemaking topics which are appropriate to the instruction of a young lady: pianoforte, embroidery, multivariate calculus, continental philosophy, organic chemistry, and Swahili. My Papa had assured me that it was here, at Upstate New York’s finest charm school, that I would secure my future with a most advantageous marriage.
I was even to be wedded, once. It was four springs ago, under the wisteria blossoms in the Arboretum, that I gazed modestly upon the gentleman to whom I was sure I would be betrothed by the end of my first spring at Cornell. Alas, my betrothal to this titled young lad was not to be. He was torn away from me, summoned to the warfront. When I learnt of his conscription to the brave ranks of the ROTC, my young heart was wrought with worry. He promised to write to me, and for many seasons I awaited word from him. Over two long winters, I gazed wistfully into the blank expanse of snowy Ithaca and shed sparkling tears over the horrible prospects that he was surely facing. Did he have enough to eat at the depleted Okenshield’s mess hall? Did his toes ache from cold through his threadbare boots as he crossed the impenetrable tundra known ominously as the “Engineering Quadrangle?”. Alas, I was to receive no reassurances, no word to salve my wondering heart.
It was during this time that I began to wither. Subject to the hardships of Cornell life, I slowly surrendered the rosy glow of girlhood. I developed calluses, aches, and an unbecomingly straightforward manner of speaking. Where I was to find feminine instruction and a husband, I instead found moral corruption, drunkenness, revelry, and promiscuity. Worst of all, I was saddled with the heaviest and most useless burden a woman can carry: a world class education.
The indignities of my condition as an educated woman are myriad. I live the most reprehensible life possible—a life of the mind. I oft find myself engaging in unladylike belligerence when I address men directly as my equal, unconsciously goaded on by the many centuries of knowledge and rhetoric that now fill my soul like a bile. It is a hideous affliction, education. My Mama, who worked so tirelessly to instill in me the virtues of ladyhood, would faint if she saw how crude I have become since my exposure to the grand projects of humanity’s quest for understanding.
Neither feminine instruction nor a suitable husband could Cornell deliver; I instead found myself in the throes of corruption. The young men, whom I had been assured were of the most genteel background, conduct themselves as would barnyard animals.
All this has qualified me only for spinsterhood and dissatisfaction, and I have become resigned to my fate. I shall pass the last days of my life in an attic somewhere, growing ever more shrewish and haggard, with only the dim light of self-actualization and accrued knowledge of the great texts of the Western canon to illuminate the space. The devil himself would pity my bargain; trading an ivory dress for the ivory tower. I think, therefore I am forever alone. Fie upon Cornell, miserable bastion of learning!