I was sitting in a hamburger restaurant near Rockefeller Plaza in New York City when Shannon–one of the three high school newspaper staffers I was with–burst out with “I want to be fun, but I just can’t.”
Everyone sort of stopped what they were doing—eating, chewing, drinking, thinking.
“At least you’re honest,” said Zina, a former student and current resident of NYC.
That little outburst sparked a similar discussion the next day while sitting at another restaurant just off Times Square. I along with the other two staffers went out for breakfast and a brief shopping excursion around Time Square while “I-want-to-be-fun-but-I-just-can’t” Shannon opted to remain sleeping.
I asked the other two if they had to fill in the "I-want-to-be" blank, what would they say?
“I want to be a party animal, but I just can’t,” said Maddee. “I’m too shy. I don’t dance. I can’t even two-step.”
After a moment or two, Abbie said, “I want to be like Maddee and say whatever I want., but I just can't.”
But less than 30 seconds later, that was changed to “I want to like omelets, but I just can’t. They always sound really good, but I never like them,” she said between bites of the western egg omelet she ordered.
Later, on the way to the airport, the topic came up again when I asked Shannon what she did for dinner for her last night in New York City.
“I ate a pop tart and slept,” she said.
To which the rest of replied in unison, “I want to be fun, but I just can’t.”
Shannon’s outburst sparked a wide array of potential uses particularly around deadline time. Now, we have an entire new arsenal of mottos. Things like…
“I want to turn in my story, but I just can’t.”
“I want to turn in my centerspread, but I just can’t.”
“I want to be a good photographer, but I just can’t.”
Or my personal favorite:
“I want to call everyone a Big Fat Stupid Head, but I just can’t.”