<p>Heres my essay for Stanford. The prompt is: ''A picture is worth a thousand words,'' as the adage goes. (You're limited to one page, however.) Select a photograph no larger than 3.5 x 5 inches that represents something important to you, and explain its significance. I chose a picture of the gang from Seinfeld, and heres the essay (by the way any comments on the ending are appreciated because I don't like it very much):</p>
<pre><code> "Who steals prescription glasses?"
"You don't have an old pair?"
"I broke 'em playing basketball."
"He was running from a bee."
I am not a man to watch re-runs. But after 9 years and 180 episodes, Seinfeld was as fresh a comedy as ever. For 30 minutes of every day I would leave my own life behind to witness the escapades of four seemingly normal people. Somehow a show about nothing, as it was called, had a tangible quality that would keep me fixated upon the television for a full half-hour. To my dismay, the show broke to a commercial.
Get these amazing CDs for only $29.95 each! Act now while supplies last! What! Thats daylight robbery! How can they get away with charging thirty bucks for a CD? My uncle made it a habit to provide personal commentary on every commercial that flashed across the television. True, it was a little irritating, but nothing I couldnt live with. Wrestling isnt even a sport! Everyone knows its fake, but I just dont understand what could compel people to watch such a ridiculous show?
Eventually, I began to ignore his interjections, adding the occasional nod to prove I was listening. Casually, a Salvation Army advertisement faded onto the screen. It rolled from image to image, depicting people scavenging through piles of garbage to find a days meal. An emaciated little boy cried to his mother for food; she sat helplessly with nothing more to offer him than her empty hands. These beggars should find jobs instead of demanding our sympathy! Its their lack of ambition that put them there in the first place!
I smoldered in my seat for a bit, frustrated by my uncles lack of understanding. After fumbling through my pockets for my keys, I left the house and, setting a brisk pace, made my way to the east side of Los Angeles. I roamed the streets for about an hour before I encountered the cozy shops and rickety street carts that peppered the sidewalks. The air had a sharp, metallic quality as if I had pennies in my mouth.
I saw him squatting on the side of the road, clad in faded black jeans and a worn orange t-shirt. He occasionally shook the paper cup in his hand, rattling the coins inside as if to alert the world of his presence. I had never met a beggar outside the walls of a volunteer center, and I was nervous to say the least. I approached him, slowly, and introduced myself. He eyed me warily, and agreed to the favor I asked of him only after significant persuasion. We began to walk back to the house and arrived shortly before dinnertime.
Through our conversation, I had come to know the mans name was David. As David and I strode up the front porch, I suddenly realized what I was doing. Was bringing a beggar home too brash a way to make my uncle see what real poverty was?
I slowly opened the front door, only to find the house devoid of activity. XXX, I yelled to my uncle. Coming, his voice echoed back. I requested David to have a seat on the couch. Anxiety and excitement swirled about inside me as I fought to calm myself. As my uncle bounced down the stairs, he grabbed for the banister midway and came to a premature halt. Glancing from me to David and back, he asked in a falsely polite tone, XXX, whos your friend? I introduced my uncle to David, and after a pause, he cautiously sat down across from us.
David launched headlong into his lifes story, beginning with his childhood in LA. He never knew his father, and his mother was a prostitute, but he found a niche in the neighborhood gang. His account meandered from drug addictions to prison sentences, with the occasional effort to find a job. David related the difficulty of finding a job due mainly to his appearance; finally, rejection after rejection destroyed his hope of getting a job and he settled on begging in the streets.
After David had finished, I pointed to him and demanded from my uncle, Now which part of that was his fault? What was his mistake? My uncle didnt answer. He pointed to the door and forcefully asked David to leave. My confidence dwindled. I made a grab for Davids elbow and led him upstairs to my room. I handed him a couple of Dave Matthews Band t-shirts and a pair of shorts. I took the stairs three at a time on the way down and took an armful of food from the pantry. After stuffing cans of Campbells Soup and boxes of Chips-Ahoy! into a grocery bag, I emptied the twenty-five dollars I was carrying into Davids hands. He smiled. I still watch Seinfeld with religious fervor, but it is no longer just a way to escape my own life. Instead, it brings me closer to reality and helps me to remember the millions who try to escape poverty. I find it odd that a show about nothing now helps me see how fortunate I am.