“Not everybody needs to go to college,” said Kevin, stating the obvious.  But Luther, his exhausted guidance counselor, glancing surreptitiously at the clock over Kevin’s left shoulder, knew it was his job to argue the other side of this point.

“Sure, not everybody NEEDS to,” said Luther.  “But you have the OPPORTUNITY.  You, Kevin, have a full-ride woodworking scholarship to go to Vermont’s Academy of the Ambiguous Arts.  Why would you throw that away?”

“Why can’t I just start my own woodworking studio right now?  I already have one.  In my garage.  Okay, my parents’ garage,” conceded Kevin, “but  still.  I could get my own garage.  And maybe someday, my own house, too.”

“VAAA is a very prestigious college,” urged Luther.  “Almost anyone who is anyone in the small wood-carving industry has probably gone to VAAA.”

“I don’t know,” said Kevin, leaning back in his chair.  “Convince me.”

Kevin sat with his ankle crossed over his knee, the man’s leg-cross.  He wondered if being a career counselor was sort of like being a headhunter….if Luther would be getting 15% from someone, somewhere, if he did decide to go to VAAA.  The truth was that he really really did in fact want to go.  But his ex-girlfriend Leslie who had just dumped him for debate-star and wrestling all-state champion Mike Cutchins—who had then turned around and promptly dumped HER for Elizabeth Mergenson, a quiet country girl who rode horses somewhere out of town–well it turns out that Leslie had ALSO gotten a full scholarship to VAAA, and she had already accepted.  She was going for fiber arts.  She had already bought herself a dress form.  Kevin was still in love with her but he didn’t want to be anymore because the whole Mike Cutchins debacle  had disgusted him and also degraded her and, by proxy, him.  If they got together now, they would be just two outcasts thrown on the scrap heap of Mike Cutchins’ leftover loser pile.  Kevin thought he might want a fresh start.  There was a girl who worked in a convenience store on the corner of 15th and Larson who wasn’t all that bad looking.  If she lost five pounds and grew out those bangs, he thought, she would be even better. Also her name was Davide, pronounced as if it were French, which he didn’t want to do, so in his mind he had to pretend her name was Danielle.

“Kevin?  Are you listening to me?”

“Huh?” said Kevin, “what?”

“The deadline is coming up next Wednesday,  Kevin.  What do you think you’re going to do?”

Kevin paused.  “Did you say full ride?” asked Kevin.

“Yes.  That’s what I said.”

“Hmm.  Hmm.”  Kevin felt the tiny carved wooden elephant in his pocket, and he reached for his pen.