On the first day of the first class of my freshman year in college, my College Writing 101 professor instructed us to go home that weekend and write a paper about the person whom we would most like to meet if given the chance.
And I could have bullshitted him. I could have written about wanting to meet JFK or Martin Luther King Jr. or some other revered, sociopolitical icon … but I wasn’t an 18-year-old freshman just out of high school; I was a 22-year-old freshman who had recently spent nearly four years in the Army, and my inclination to sling bullshit in order to impress a college professor was, by that point, quite nonexistent. And as I looked down at the blank notebook in front of me that weekend, I saw stretching out before me four long years of higher education … and I knew that the only way I was going to make it to the finish line was to figure out how to marry my own personal interests to my academic pursuits.
So I wrote the “I want to meet Eddie Van Halen” paper.