Confessions of a Bubble Boy

There’s nothing wrong with life in the bubble

Hello, my name is David Golding, and I live in a bubble.

That’s right. You know all the nasty names they call us: “Bubble Boy,” “Bubble Butt,” “Bubblicious.” Kids can be so cruel.

No, I do not suffer from Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), forcing me to live in a sterile laminar airflow quarantine. Although that would be pretty awful.

Alas, my fate is far more tragic. I have been told that I live in a metaphorical bubble, transcending space and probably time, so impermeable that not the slightest trace of the real world can reach me. That’s right, I live in the Harvard Bubble.

Sometimes, as a kid, I would lie awake at night wishing I lived in the “State School Bubble” where I could spend my time doing keg stands and seducing gorgeous women instead of sitting through harangues by masochistic liberals who feel guilty because they’re not out living on the streets or fighting in Iraq. Because if we have to live in a bubble, we should at least carpe diem, is what I say (that’s Latin for “seize the bubble”).

But then one day I had what we hotshot English majors call an “epiphany.” Don’t we all live in a bubble? Isn’t that what Descartes meant by cogito, ergo sum? And didn’t the poet John Donne say that every man is a bubble unto himself? What makes one bubble more privileged than another?

Perhaps one day the starry-eyed young man with his head immersed in a book, oblivious to the genocide in Sudan, will turn out to be the next Proust, who wrote what might be the twentieth century’s greatest novel about pastries. Or perhaps that smelly science nerd, slaving away in the Science Center while you stand outside shouting “No Blood for Oil,” will discover the cure for AIDS. So please, friends, leave them to their bubbles.

Of course, there is always the off chance that I won’t cure AIDS or write “A Remembrance of Things Past,” so I still do my part to be a responsible member of society. I pay my taxes; I vote Democratic; I recycle both plastic and paper. I even go out of my way to step over homeless people lying on the ground in Harvard Yard, not because I don’t want to touch them but because it would be wrong to trample on their heads. (But I don’t give them money because they’ll probably just go and spend it on booze.) What else do you want from me, God? I am only one Bubble Boy.

So to all the bubblephobes out there—instead of hating us, please try to understand us. We are not here to do you harm; we merely want to float along in our solipsistic lives. Perhaps we are smug and elitist, but at least we admit it. You say you want to help “the common man.” But what the common man really wants is to be left alone by sanctimonious Harvard students like us. He has his NASCAR and Jesus Christ; we have our Radiohead and James Joyce. To each, his own bubble.

Besides, remember that we are here in the Harvard Bubble to get the best education money can buy. So instead of bemoaning the state of the world, take advantage of the vast resources the bubble has to offer, like world-class professors, state-of-the-art research facilities, and best of all, boredinthebubble.com.


David L. Golding ‘08, a Crimson editorial editor, is an English concentrator in Dunster House.