The Klosterman cage match

Everyone has heard of those “what if” games—the ones that you play at family gatherings to fill time and learn weird, interesting facts about loved ones. The more exciting version of those games are the hypothetical situations crafted by Chuck Klosterman, which I was exposed to by an old friend during my spring break trip to Istanbul, Athens and Barcelona.

Here’s the question (simplified): You are forced into a cage-match battle to the death, no weapons allowed. Would you rather battle the average version of yourself, or a randomly selected person from your country of origin? This randomly selected person could be a baby, your physics professor, Vin Diesel, etc.

When taking this hypothetical situation into account, there are several things you have to ask yourself. First, what’s the physical and demographic makeup of the United States right now? What are my chances of getting someone less physically fit than me? Would it be more scarring to fight a stranger than to fight myself, or visa versa?

Secondly, are you currently a higher-than-average version of yourself? Of all versions of your adult self (for me, I’m thinking late high school to present day), would an average version of yourself be able to beat the crap out of who you are today?

Ever since I heard it, it’s this second set of questions that have been running through my mind. Of course I will never be in that situation, or—fingers crossed—have to make a choice of who to fight to the death. However, in a bizarre way, this question fits perfectly into my study abroad experience.

I am here in Paris to experience, see, speak, taste, listen and hopefully grow. But there’s something about being away from everything “normal” (and being in place that has volumes of love tales written about it) that makes it a semi-out-of-body experience. It’s like when you get a new puppy as a kid—everyone from a distance can see how rapidly it’s changing, but when you have day-to-day contact with it there’s no way to tell.

And that’s why this Klosterman question intrigues me so much. Could I win a cage match with an average version of myself?

Well, current me (who I am today) may be able to confuse average me (who I was a year ago) by speaking some French at her. Arguably not a great tool in the ring, considering average me would be able to out-run, out-punch and out-maneuver current me. Current me is weighed down by a steady diet of pastries and an occasional cigarette.

Average me has a much more stringent work ethic, and a way higher attention span than current me. Current me almost always chooses visiting a new museum or exploring a new area of Paris than doing class readings. Average me would trounce current me in an exam, essay or class presentation.

But maybe current me has some things going for her. Current me could more easily navigate her way out of any neighborhood, transportation system, or sticky situation. Current me would be able to hold a straight face, has way more street smarts, and could make new friends (or allies) in any place. Not like any of that would help in a cage match, but that’s beside the point.

I started writing this post with the intention of talking about schoolwork—the classic “wait, we have to study when we study abroad?” I’ve had an incredibly hard time as of late trying to buckle down and actually do my schoolwork. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn about histories, places, societies, cultures and ideas, but very little of it has taken place in the classroom.

But I figured these scholastic musings fit into the larger question: what am I doing with my time here? Am I becoming “better”? Or am I just having a semester long vacation, with some speed bumps along the way? And in the end, is there really a huge difference between the two anyway? I guess that kind of perspective only comes with a cage match.

1 thought on “The Klosterman cage match”

  1. Hey Riley The Rue, You are “GETTING IT” The REAL lessons and learning are coming from your travels. The current you will kick the crap out of the average you. Rock on Girl, Rock On The Papa, Loves you 🙂

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