John Kelly Column: Cavedad's Crash Course in College Admissions

By John Kelly
Monday, March 30, 2009

The Cro-Magnon's teenage daughter was sitting by the mouth of the family cave, staring off into the distance, her eyes straining in the late-afternoon sun that filtered through the jungle canopy.

The caveman approached, dragging a freshly killed saber-toothed tiger carcass behind him. "Daughter," he asked, "why are you sitting here? Why are you not out gathering nuts and berries and starchy tubers with your mother?"

"Father," she said, rolling her eyes, "I'm waiting for the mailman, duh."

"The mailman?"

"To see if I got into college? Honestly."


The daughter rolled her eyes again. "When is Mom getting home? Oh wait, there he is!"

A plump man in a fur cap, a wildebeest-hide bag slung over his shoulder, had emerged from the tangled underbrush. He stopped at the mouth of the cave, fumbled through his bag and pulled out a handful of carefully chiseled envelopes.

Before the caveman could take them, his daughter snatched them away. "Bill, bill, bill," she said, flipping through them, "dry cleaning coupon, bill. Argh!" She flung them down and ran sobbing into the cave.

The mailman shrugged. "That Neanderthal kid who lives over by the tar pit got a thick envelope from Princeton today," he said, before disappearing into the jungle.

That night, as he washed tiger-and-tuber casserole off the dishes, the caveman spoke to his wife. "Mother, I am worried about Daughter. Each day she does nothing but sit by the entrance to our cave, waiting for the man with the wildebeest bag. I do not understand."

"It's college acceptance letter time," his wife said. "She didn't do early decision, remember?"

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company