Applause filled the auditorium as a middle-aged balding man awkwardly wiped the sweat from his brow as the stage lights beat down on him like a thousand murderous suns. Why the fuck are these things so bright? he thought as he waved politely, a gigantic cardboard-cut out smile plastered across his wrinkly face. He couldn’t make out the crowd in front of him because he was blinded by the cheap, eco-friendly shining that made it impossible to see anything. He had done it; 35 years to finish his thesis, but he had finally done it. This is it Bruce, he thought to himself, the BIG TIME.

As the applause carried on, Bruce stood there like a moron waving politely and imagining the riches that awaited him once he got on the news with this shit. As the (obviously too long) applause carried on, Bruce began to try to picture the crowd in front of him. A bunch of young, optimistic college kids eager to hear his wisdom, a bunch of pimply-faced, scared kids in their twenties. Probably a bunch of hipsters who didn’t even know how to do their taxes, now that he came to think of it.

Wait, these kids probably don’t know what the fuck I am even talking about. The thought pierced his brain like these college fuck-ups were probably trying to pierce some fucking snatch at the next frat party they could crash. Is this what he had worked for so hard? Is this really what he slaved away for, the past 35 years sacrificing all of his free time?

Now it was really bothering Bruce that he couldn’t see the crowd. It was like a pimple that you notice in passing when washing and then become so focused on, you can’t turn away. You become so focused on the pimple, thinking about how big it is, where it came from? Was it herpes? The best way Bruce could think to describe this moment was that the crowd was his diagnosis of herpes. But did he really have herpes?

He tried to calm himself. Maybe the crowd was made up of scholars and prestigious professors who had to write emails trying to get the time slot off just so they could be graced with a quick seminar by their favorite (insert famous thesis that someone could write here). That had to be it.

Wait. Which college am I even fucking at? He couldn’t remember for the life of him. He had been traveling a lot lately.

Bruce began digging around in the pocket of his suit coat for a pamphlet to this god-awful piece of wretched shit he was so proud of ten seconds ago. The pockets on this thing are so fucking small, he thought, cursing to himself. He then became convinced that his wife had switched detergents or something because this suit-coat was definitely too small on him.

This was a disaster. These kids probably didn’t even know who he was. I bet their fucking professors made them come to this for some extra credit. That’s all Bruce was now in the world. Extra credit. How did he reclaim himself after this? It all had slipped so fast. One moment he was a proclaimed (insert thesis statement here) and the next he was extra credit.

The world was crashing around him now. He was going to lose it all. His wife, his car, (and he loved his fucking car), his kids, (yes his fucking kids) and all the sweet, sweet, dough he was promised. But there Bruce stood, in his suit-coat that he just recently decided was too small, and his fake plastered on smile, sweating perversely under the heat of the cheap, eco-friendly lights in the lecture hall.

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Would you listen to that? he thought dreadfully, they aren’t even applauding anymore. Wait. THEY AREN’T APPLAUDING ANYMORE.

Bruce stood on the stage of the auditorium drenched in sweat, silently waving with his fake ass smile plastered on while the crowd sat in silence horrified at the scene before them. They had stopped cheering a while ago, but when prompted to ask for any questions, Bruce the famous (insert educational profession here) stood in silence waving, sweating like a pig.

Most of the hipsters in the crowd had taken a moment to snag a pic of old Bruce to upload to their Twitter with the caption “Best Extra Cred Eva,” while the sluts tried to take some quick Snapchat pictures that showed just enough cleavage to let the boys know that if they were willing to show that much off in public, imagine what they could get in private. The nerds took this time to finish writing down the notes they had been struggling to keep up to get, while the stoners had either forgotten completely to come or left halfway through Bruce’s little speech to snag some sick Subway with their meal plans.

Bruce knew he was fucked by the time he stopped waving. He might have had the best thesis on (insert educational study that took 35 fucking years to discover), but he couldn’t save himself from the embarrassment of what had just happened. He realized now that he was no longer waving but just had his arm up next to his head in a waving position sitting still, and was sweating so much he thought he had just lost enough weight to skip his Weight Watchers points for the evening.

He slowly put his arm down to his side and strained his eyes to see anyone in the crowd, and still with no luck he thought to himself, Think Bruce. You can save this. You can still come back.

Bruce let out a loud fake laugh that caused the microphone to send feedback causing everyone in the crowd to let out a painful groan. He was off to a great start. Bruce decided that he needed to try to relate to this crowd, he had gone to college, and he used to be cool. What’s cooler than a little stand-up comedy? He thought to himself. He was about to throw a curveball to these motherfuckers. He could see the headline now, “Bruce (Insert Last Name). Not only (Insert Thesis Statement Topic) Genius, But Comedy Genius.”

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And with this little sense of false hope, Bruce began.

“How’s everybody doing tonight?” Bruce shouted to the crowd, voice cracking mid-sentence. Crippling silence followed. It’s okay. It’s all about that punch line.

“Who’s drunk out there? Because I know I am!”

Silence.

It was apparent Bruce was going to have to pull out the big guns if this was going to work. He wasn’t afraid; he knew he had what it took.

“So how about that Black Lives Matter? What is this? A Bill Cosby Special?”

Bruce was sure he heard some gasps coming from the crowd, and he couldn’t tell if it was laughter or something else because by this time he had dropped the microphone on the ground and began sprinting backstage towards his car. As he ran he noticed a brown stain on his neatly ironed khakis, which trailed down his leg and could ultimately only be decided as piss. Bruce didn’t take the time to stop in the “dressing room” in which he left his briefcase among other belongings, and continued running full speed ahead towards his 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser.

As he ran through the twisted corridors, he ultimately decided to burst out the emergency exit doors, which caused a fire alarm to go off. He could hear the joking shouts of students as the alarm went off and the building began to empty behind him. Bruce couldn’t stop now. This was literally all he fucking had left. Bruce took down the cement stairs towards the parking lot where he was parked; students gave him worried looks as he sprinted by in his urine soaked dress pants. He began formulating a map of the parking lot in his head as he sprinted because it was very important to know where he was parked so he didn’t have to run around the lot like one of those jackasses looking for his ride.

This was a real out of body experience for Bruce, a good change of pace from the ordinary. He felt like a famed criminal on the run, and was pretty sure he heard helicopters buzzing above; spotlights ready to go on his location. As he finally arrived in the parking lot he immediately saw where his car was, as the lot wasn’t that full so it wasn’t quite as exciting.

Bruce frantically hit the unlock button on his car keys and grabbed the metal door handle firmly. He whipped open the car door harder than he ever had in his life and planted him firmly inside. He shut the door calmly and hit the lock button located to his left, just below the window.

Bruce had made it. He was finally safe. With this, Bruce began to calmly adjust the rearview mirror in a professional manner, and cry like a baby.

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