They were out there every day, it seems, set up on card tables in the corridor between the college bookstore and the mail room. I think they were attired in the same conservative garb that has made me despise every employee at Enterprise Rent-A-Car ever since. They had stacks of bland application forms, mugs of those dime a dozen Bic pens that always go flat in the middle of a mid-term and, oddly, candy and toys.

With each application, they'd give away a mini Koosh ball or a jumbo bag of either M&M's or Skittles. One by one, every 90210 attired moron from our college would saunter up, books in hand, to apply for a chance to sell their souls. Being overtaken by the stylishly lacking grunge fashion that was popping up in 1992, I never felt clean cut enough to talk to these people, let alone fill out a damn form for a toy. Besides, I already had a Koosh ball and they were always out of peanut M&M's when I came to check my mail. I think I got my application for soul sale out of a copy of Rolling Stone or some such nonsense.

We all know the irony of their little tables, how they prey on the one bracket of the economy that, while having supposedly the largest percentage of disposable income (what a wonderfully fitting way to describe take home pay!), also earn almost none of it, and therefore are seldom mature enough to handle credit. We all also know how much money they make off of us when we can't handle it. But it was the Pavlovian gifts, the trinkets of youth being handed out by strangers when we were all told that was the worst thing to do in any situation, that framed the entire exchange in an eery perfection of the American Dream.

And how hopeless most of us are to actually resist such obvious manipulation from within the institution we were told was supposed to prepare us to avoid it, even though most of us know going into college what bullshit even that is.

Am I bitter? Well maybe. Just a tad. :)