I Was A High-Achieving Middle-Schooler And Now I Work In This Piss-Scented Cat Café

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Greetings fellow intellectual! I see that you’re requesting the academic discount. I’ll forgive you for being thrown by my cat-hair-covered appearance and my copy of Beyond Good And Evil (one of Nietzsche’s most middling works, we can debate later). You see, I too was a high-achieving middle-schooler, and now I work in this piss-scented cat café. Alas! How I have fallen!

You doubt me still? Well, I understand. Indeed, my coworkers are not scholars, they instead pass their time scratching the legs of furniture and licking their own genitals. Somehow, those have also become my hobbies. I’m not proud of it, but even former gifted middle-schoolers assimilate eventually.

By age 13, my academic achievements were beyond feline imagining. I received a 2836 on my PSAT. I took the AP test in Breathing and got a 5. I once knew the names of all 483 US Presidents and their pets, including the secret ones. And, words! My mastery of language was so complete, I was not unlike a miniature Shakespeare. Renowned scholars reference my texts still, or at least, my mom still looks at them sometimes.

Now? I only speak cat, or worse, cat memes. Maybe someday I Can Haz Pulitzer Prize in Literature?

These hands that once did God’s calculus now serve the sole purpose of creating cat faces in latte foam and trying to pull Dr. Strangetoes out from behind the espresso machine. In seventh grade, I wrote a proof for the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture on the underside of my geometry class desk. If only I could remember it… my mind has been shot from years of spraying Febreeze on piss-scented upholstery.

I used to play the clarinet! Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven… those were my friends. And I mean that literally, a parent at my private school named their kid Brahms. I still practice music, but now my friends are named Smoky, McPants, and Tabbyworth, and our music is the mewing of dinnertime, and an occasional rendition of the CATS original soundtrack.

With an extensive middle-school CV like mine, you would think I would be a CEO by now, or at least, the president of a nationally ranked university. Instead, the president of the cat café is Mr. Bibbs. He is feisty, and he once projectile vomited a hairball onto me to assert dominance.

Perchance someday I shall return to the académie, but until it is time to scale that great ivory tower… I bid thee adieu. As the great* poet Allen Ginsburg once said: “I saw the most high-achieving middle-schoolers of my generation, twenty years later, shoveling kitty litter in the back of a piss-scented cat café.”

*Exactly how “great” is unclear. How many extracurriculars did he have in grades 6–8?