Remembering the books that taught us more than we ever cared to learn.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
We all have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. They’re the days when someone compliments your friend’s outfit but not yours, when the test you were sure you did well on comes back as a big, fat F, when the girl you’ve been crushing on starts dating Blake, the football player with the Ferrari his dad bought him for his 14th birthday, when you can’t help but fall asleep to your Chemistry professor’s seasoned British accent, when you just don’t make it into the college you wanted, when your hair will just not un-frizz like you want it to so you can go to Matt’s crazy Gatsby-lingerie-hotel-80’s party, or when you just generally want to punch someone in the face. Alexander had a day like that, too. As we know, it was terrible; it was horrible; it was no good and very bad: but it was just one day.
Sometimes our invisible castles aren’t appreciated by the teacher we have deemed a pretentious consequence of academia’s self-indulgence: she really just doesn’t get art like we do. Sometimes, there’s just a lot of kissing on TV and it’s, like, totally gross ‘cause cooties and stuff. But that doesn’t mean it’ll change if we move to Australia. Alexander’s mother makes sure he knows that some days are just terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, even in Australia. In fact, there’s an Australian version of the book to prove it, but Alexander’s escape plan in that book is to go to Timbuktu (really, Alexander? Timbuktu seems like the one place with no bad days? OK, sure).
In a way, I learned that Timbuktu and Australia kinda suck too. Every place and every person just has moments of general suckiness (my computer really wants me to change that to sulkiness and I guess that is an appropriate happening too). What Alexander learned before he went to bed in the railroad pajamas he hates is that it’s okay to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Tomorrow could be way better…or tomorrow could be worse, but, hey, that’s just how it goes. Alexander will always have the knowledge that the sequel to “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” was called “Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days”. And honestly, after so much rainbows, sunshine, lollipops, and Santa Claus smiles you might just want to wake up with messy hair and be like everyone else.
It’s a pretty simple thesis, but that’s what really gets into kid’s heads. And, sometimes, for adults, it’s good to put down Ulysses and Gravity’s Rainbow and remember something sweetly simple: your day kinda didn’t go your way, but tomorrow could be the best day you’ve ever had.
—Gabriel Ojeda-Sague is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, but he is too cool for school, obviously.