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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

From the files

I’ve just learned that thanks to Barack Hussein “Reverse Discrimination” al-Obama, I’m not even eligible for the Supreme Court.  Well, I’ve suffered long enough, I tell you.  Because I was born by the East River, in a high-rise apt, and just like the river I’ve been thwarted by PC government regulations ever since.  It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.

In the meantime, though, I can console myself with the thought that I’m giving the commencement speech at Marlboro College on May 17, right after delivering the keynote at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society on May 16.  So that’s going to be a busy weekend.  This is my first commencement speech.  I wonder if I should say anything about sunscreen?

Actually, I don’t think of it as a “commencement speech” so much as a warmup to the valediction, which, I’ve recently learned, will be delivered by A. K. M. Adam, Biblical scholar and renowned blogger—whose son just happens to be graduating from that very same Marlboro College.  (Congratulations to Josiah!)

So I have to, you know, start writing the thing soon, as opposed to just composing it in my head the way I’ve been doing the past few weeks.  And yes, I’m sorely tempted to open with, “More than at any other time in its history, mankind stands at a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness.  The other, to total destruction.  Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” But I hear that one has been done to death.

While I’m writing my warmup-to-the-valediction—and since I’ve been reminiscing lately about the vicissitudes of my days as the Director of the Institute for Advanced Consultation with People Who Weren’t Consulted—I thought I would post one of my favorite things from Ye Olde Correspondence Archives.  It’s a blog exclusive!  No one’s ever seen this before; it’s just been sitting on my hard drive for oh, almost ten years now.

Here’s the context.  I used to say to Janet that a good day at the humanities program was a day on which I learned stuff, preferably stuff about other people’s work or about how to be a better administrator (because I had a great deal to learn on that front).  A bad day was a day on which someone planted a “kick me” sign on my back, except that it wasn’t exactly a “kick me” sign; it was a “waste my time” sign, and it was large enough to be seen from blocks away.

So one day, after what seemed like week after week of “waste my time” days, Janet sent me the following sympathy email:

Dear Dr. Bérubé,

I have been perusing your program and your web site and I believe that you and your people can be of some help to me.  First, I have a large kernel of corn lodged in my nose.  Can you get it out?  Second, I need a ride to Jerry’s IGA to buy a lint roller. Will you take me?  Third, my cat is smelly and seems to need a bath.  You will of course see to it. When I arrive at your home I will require several rooms for myself and full use of your printing press.  Other than that only 36 yards of sheer muslin and a pair of stainless steel antlers. 

Many thanks to you for your generosity.

Helena Heleniaphorism
University of Guesswork

When I had finally picked myself off TF after ROTFLMAO, I wrote back in the idiom to which I had lately become accustomed:

Dear Professor Heleniaphorism,

Thank you for your recent letter.  As you may know, the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, located in central Illinois, is deeply concerned about food production and new technologies in the twenty-first century.  As part of Partnership Illinois, we have been working to ensure a more productive corn yield in FY2000, and we understand that on occasion some of our bio-enhanced kernels can lodge in the nasal cavities of the higher-order primates, such as yourself.  Although we cannot at this time reach into your nose, we can direct you to our nasal extraction website at http://www.uiuc.edu/iprh/biotech/corn/nose/out for further information.

I have directed your request for a ride to Jerry’s IGA and a bath for your cat to our staff secretary, who is currently bathing her own cat in one of our unused offices and will be happy to toss yours in the mix for a nominal charge.  Although we have no printing press at this time, you should be aware that our fax and photocopier facilities are available to the general public and can be taken home over the weekend for special events.

Thank you also for asking about our supplies of muslin.  Would those be elk or moose antlers?

We look forward to your continued association with the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.  Don’t forget to call us at home in the middle of the night if you require any further assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Obvious-Schmuck Bérubé

Good times!  And thanks to the elusive Janet Lyon for summing up my “waste my time” correspondence so brilliantly.

Posted by Michael on 05/06 at 07:39 AM
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