Several Things By Josh Gronsbell
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What follows is a real submission from a real person who read our submission guidelines and took them seriously. This is a good thing, because our submission guidelines are very serious and we will only publish things which follow them properly.
A note about the following pieces: Although they were not officially rejected by McSweeney's, Josh made the attempt at having it rejected. He also was sort-of rejected by Salon, and as I am currently sizzling from an oh-so-recent rejection from that same magazine, I feel for Mr. Gronsbell. I also feel for him because of his silly last name, but that is neither here nor there. The reason I decided to publish these pieces is that one of them is about rejection letters. I think this would qualifies him for publishing, even if his fake rejection letter thing that he wrote (also below) was not funnier than his original piece. Which it was.
And now, without further ado:
Okay, I'll try be brief because I know that like me the staff at Uber.nu lead glamorous and exciting lives and they probably have to get up early tomorrow for brunch with Davey Eggers or a title bout with Neal "Fists o' Fury" Pollack.
I worked with the legendary popsensation Abi Rae (and Maria) at Nibblebox this summer. When I told her I submitted a piece to McSweeney's, she said if they reject it I should send it to Uber.
Uber, I thought, not another one of those sites where a bunch of well-read, smart-ass, undersexed college kids and twentysomethings vent about their lack of sex and celebrity by insisting that they actually have both. But I logged onto the site anyway and...wow, you guys are way more undersexed than I thought.
But, hey, I'm an undersexed college kid too and odds are I'll be cast to play Harry Potter long before McSweeney's ever accepts my piece. So, I figured, why not send it to Uber once good ole' Dave rejects it.
So, I waited anxiously for the inevitable rejection. Waited. And waited. Long. Enough. To. Write. An. Entire. Novel. In. One. Word. Sentences.
If memory serves, Dave and I weren't on speaking terms that week after an ugly incident at the SoHo Grand involving some foul language, several supermodels, a Tony Montana-sized mountain of coke and enough vodka martinis to keep James Bond happy until tomorrow finally dies. (i.e., I never got a rejection letter.)
Meanwhile, I sent the piece to Salon, which was at the time running a college essay contest. One rejection's just as good as another, I thought. This was what they sent me back:
Thank your for your entry in the "School Days" Essay Contest. Unfortunately the contest ended two months ago. The winning entries were already selected. Sincerely,
"School Days" Staff
I went out for drinks to celebrate. "Yes," I screamed to the one-eyed bartender pouring my martini, "I can finally send the piece to Uber."
"That's not quite a rejection, is it, buddy?" He said. "It's really just a case of bad timing."
He was right, the one-eyed bastard. The bartender is always right. God help me, I couldn't even get a rejection letter.
So, here's the piece, anyway (and another one I just wrote). Do with them what you will. Read them. Don't. Laugh. Don't. Just please reject me. Dear god, reject me so that I can cry out to the heavens, "Oh yes, yes, finally, finally, sweet, sweet rejection!"
Or publish them. That would be good too.
ps. The "Notes of a Rejectee" piece is written under my name. The other one is written under my trendy, literary pseudonym, Yorick Finn.
And so, publish them we did...
The true meaning of a college rejection letter
By Josh Gronsbell
After carefully reviewing your application we have determined that yours was among one of the lives we've decided to ruin. Yes, that's right, your application has been rejected!
Well over 2,869,000,000 men and women applied for our 1,200 freshman openings, making this year's pool applicants the largest and most competitive we've seen this year.
We realize that this news will no doubt come as a disappointment to you and your family. Now, there are families that deal with rejection in a calm and rational manner. Then there's your family. Of course your family's individual reactions may vary. For example, while your brother and sister probably won't care, your mother will most likely have a nervous breakdown, during which she'll hit the sauce, pop some pills, and total the car. Your father, on the other hand, will simply suffer a massive arrhythmia-don't worry he'll still have the use of three fingers on his left hand. And, as if that isn't enough, your dog, Ivy, upset over the family's recent turmoil, will probably run out in front of the nearest car to do herself in. But of course, that's all just hypothetical. The reality is bound to be far worse.
Whatever your family's reaction, we can assure you it was nothing compared to the pain we experienced while reading your application. We here at the admissions office were not aware that there was such a thing as a negative SAT score until you applied. Your essay, entitled "The Life and Times of Joshua Gronsbell," made us seriously question whether or not there is a God. Just for future reference, next time you apply to a University, avoid misspelling the University's name on your application and we suggest omitting your shorter essay entitled "Why I like heroin."
Now, as to your own reactions, according to our Psychology department, there are several stages of rejection anxiety which you might experience. First, there's disbelief. You think to yourself, "This can't be right, maybe they sent me the wrong letter." Don't worry, we didn't. This is the sole piece of life-crushing correspondence that you're going to receive from us.
After disbelief comes anger. You might feel the need to scream, curse, hit a wall, kill a small mammal, or even climb the bell tower with a high powered sniper rifle and let loose your rage on the fleeing, panic stricken students below. (The university officially discourages the latter and we can assure you that any freshman who dies as a result of such an act will be replaced by the child of a rich Alumni, not you)
Typically, after anger comes a period of self-examination and self-loathing. (This stage lasts roughly twenty years to life-depending on how many freshmen you managed to pick off during stage two)
And finally, acceptance-at another university.
Speaking of other universities, we would like to suggest a list of schools that we feel you would be eminently qualified to attend: Brown, Yale, Princeton…no, no, no, just kidding, but seriously, we feel you'll adapt easily to the intellectual rigors of Ronald McDonald University or the Barbazon School of Modeling. If these schools don't seem up to your standards, just remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
"Dear to us are those who love us . . . but dearer are those who reject us as unworthy, for they add another life; they build a heaven before us whereof we had not dreamed, and thereby supply to us new powers out of the recesses of the spirit, and urge us to new and unattempted performances."
Have you ever attempted or even thought about an exciting career as a Barbazon model? So, please as you go forth into the world, we encourage you to remember Emerson's advice and take it to heart. Of course, unlike you, Emerson was accepted to this University.
Frederick U. Coolidge
Dean of Admission
And now, here is the actual piece which I assume was submitted to the various online magazines and was probably ignored due to the silly pseudoym. Silly psuedonyms are a sure-fire way to not be published. This is a message to you, Josh: Drop the silly pseudonym.
A Meditation by Yorick Finn
Lesbians hate me. NOW-the National Organization for Women, a breeding ground for militant lesbians, according to Pat Robertson-declared me public enemy number one. Judith Butler and Andrea Dworkin both referred to me as the third antichrist. And the campus LGBT group took out a contract on me.
Why, you ask, do they hate me more than, say, Hitler? Simple. Because I go to lesbian concerts to pick up chicks.
*Letting the screams and death threats quiet down*
Ahem, as I was saying, last night I went to see a lesbian folk singer with my gay roommate. I'm not going to say which lesbian folk singer it was. They're all the same, really. Their repertoire consists of the same three songs about being a lesbian, Jesus, and being a lesbian coming to terms with Jesus. So lord knows I didn't go for the music.
My cover story was that my roommate really wanted to go and his date canceled at the last minute. But the real reason I went was to pick up chicks. So I threw on my new, powder blue J-Crew sweater and went off to the land of Jesus and lesbians.
From the second I walked through the door I was in trouble. The club was in New Haven, which doesn't bode well in the first place. And, no, I don't go to that elitist university in New Haven, in case you were wondering. They too rejected me, lousy bastards. But I digress.
When I walked in the club, I knew I'd made several key tactical errors:
One, I underestimated the enemy. Lesbians are like the Borg. By themselves they are weak, easy to convert. In groups, however, they gain strength from the presence of the collective. Their will, their resolve, and the force with which they kick you in the nuts is multiplied.
Two, are the spoils really worth the battle? The great irony of the Trojan War was that they fought for years and years over some broad and when they finally got her, she was old and ugly. To that end, even if I fought the good fight and emerged unscathed, would I really want to date a lesbian who listens to folk music?
Three, I walked onto the battlefield with my flamboyantly gay roommate, and instead of armor I was wearing a powder blue sweater. 'Nuff said.
And, finally, lesbians don't like boys.
Nevertheless, I rallied the troops and kept walking. As I walked past security, the Bouncer-a large man with a shaved head and more tattoos than I could look at in a single glance-nodded at me. He knows, I thought. He knows why I'm here. He knows about the flaws in my battle plan. He feels my pain.
Before I continue, though, a few basic facts about lesbians are in order. The following list was carefully compiled through a series of scientific tests and anthropological studies (i.e., I ogled the lesbians.):
Back to the concert.
I walked on and wedged my way among the lesbians. I was deep in enemy territory. Charlie was everywhere, and I was unarmed. My eyes leapt around, scanning the room. Then, out of nowhere, I acquired the target.
There, in the corner was a sexy, skinny, short-haired lesbian. Score. Wait. She's with a guy. Shit. Oh, wait. She's with a girl too. Is she a lesbian? Straight? Bi? I hadn't counted on this. I figured all the straight women there would already be taken. And, besides, I came to a lesbian concert to pick up lesbians, not straight women.
In any case, I had to try. There was no time for logic. I maneuvered my way across the room, skillfully dodging several butch lesbians on the way. They never even saw me coming. I was in the clear. Only four feet away. Uh oh. Big uh oh.
A sweaty, fat gay boy was doing the Lesbian Hustle right in front of me. His very erect pierced nipples poked through the front of his white baby doll t-shirt. Damn it. I go to lesbian concerts to get away from sweaty fat men who can't dance. He was blocking my line of sight. I lost the target.
Now, anyone, who's ever been to a concert knows that a certain continental drift that takes place in the crowd. Two people can stand four feet away from each other, not move for the entire duration of the show and wind up at opposite ends of the room by the time the show ends. It's a natural law, like the Law of Conservation of Matter or that lesbians hate me.
By this point, the sexy lesbian was beginning to drift away. It was the time to move in for the kill. Now or never.
I hold my breath and push past the sweaty, fat gay boy. I inch closer…closer. I'm right next to her. Holding. My. Breath. Trying. Not. To. Move.
Then, in preparation for battle, I do what all men do when they've been standing in the same place for 20 minutes. I adjust the boys-get them into attack position. But-
The Bouncer runs over. Shit. I'm screwed. No, it's cool. He's on my side. He'll understand.
Bouncer: What's going on, here?
SexyLesbian: *clutching her chest, still doing the Lesbian Hustle* He grabbed my breast. He was jerking off too.
Bouncer: *shoving a meaty finger in my chest* Did you grab her!?
Me: *sweating profusely in my powder blue sweater* I ... I'm gay.
So, his name's Patrick, he has sixty-eight tattoos, and we're going out next Thursday. Serves me right, I suppose. Hey, on the upside, he bought me a beer and, oh, he likes my sweater.
But I learned my lesson. From now on I only go to see good lesbian bands, like Bikini Kill or Sleater-Kinny. At least punk lesbians can dance. Say, Sleater-Kinny is playing next week in New Haven. Maybe Patrick can get me tickets. Eh, better not, lesbians hate me. But at least I'm beloved by gay bouncers the world over.
Josh Gronsbell is probably embarassed now.
Josh Gronsbell is probably embarassed now.