It all began when we were left off the Consumer Reports list. Again. This happens every year. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Don't you mean the U.S. News and World Report, America's most trusted source for lists of names of colleges since whatever year it was established, which I don't feel like looking up?"
The answer is no; I really do mean Consumer Reports. This is on account of a scientific study conducted via scientific means in 1997, wherein Aarkvard was scientifically compared to (a) Stanford University and (b) an Amana microwave. The study found that - in the words of one researcher - "Aarkvard is more like the microwave, but not as good with potatoes". It should be borne in mind, for those of you who follow current affairs, that this study was conducted years before the inauguration of university President Ephram M. Cloaca, and thus bears no relation to what he was allegedly found doing to a potato in his office last week.
"I want to stress that this claim remains unproven," President Cloaca told our redoubtable student newspaper, the Aarkvard Suppository. "Also, the potato wanted it."* The potato could not be reached for comment, but is said to be living with friends.
So once a year, we have four or five Stealth Plants from Consumer Reports come in to act the part of totally unsuspicious students. We aren't supposed to know they're plants, of course, but one can tell from the subtle things, such as:
• They are all at least 55 years of age.
• The fronts of their matching red sweater-vests say “CONSUMER REPORTS”.
• The backs of the vests say “WHATEVER WE ARE, WE’RE NOT PLANTS.”
I have been lavishly celebrated for my shrewdness many a time, and there is no reason for you to hold back now.
Anyway, the moment of doom came near the end of inspection, when one agent, whom I shall call "Agent Alias**," took it upon himself - this is how many great civilizations such as Rome and Nebraska have fallen - to use a toilet. This he accomplished with élan, and for a time it seemed all would be well. The entire Aarkvard population (or, if you prefer Latin, "corpse") stood with its hearts pounding.*** It was then that Agent Alias noticed something. Actually, several somethings.
"Say," he exclaimed, 1930s-style, "I'm thirty feet up in the air! And I'm on a shelf! And everyone here is wearing an orange apron!"
Silence. The jig was up. Yes: Aarkvard University is a Home Depot.
It all holds together, when you think about it. The midair restrooms; the preponderance of classes in Paint Stocking****; the continual requests for Clean-Up in Aisle Six. But, on a personal level, it is difficult to accept. Nothing against Home Depot, mind you. The stores are spacious and comprehensive, the employees endlessly helpful and friendly, as evidenced by their rule wherein, if a customer comes within 10 feet, they are required, per company policy, to be unattractive.
I kid, of course! It’s 50 feet. But it is more than a little humiliating to have your supposed place of education “outed” in this fashion. Nobody takes us Aarkvard students seriously now, except to ask us where the lawn mowers are. Nonetheless I am proud to say that, in the true Aarkvard spirit – call me a softy if you wish – we do not know.*****
So we remain unrecognized not only as an institution, but also in the field of knick-knacks, where we find ourselves consistently beaten not only by the microwave, but by the Walkman, the Pez dispenser, the University of Pennsylvania, etc. Yet Aarkvard (“Where Everybody Knows Your Shame”) remains undaunted. We will forge ahead just as we have forged ahead in the past, and in the future, which has not actually occurred yet, except for a little bit of it since I wrote the beginning part of this sentence, but technically the aforementioned little bit is now the past, and now I notice this keeps happening, so let’s call it a grey area.
My point is, we Aarkvard students remain, as ever, fine upstanding collegiate beings. Come visit us sometime and see for yourself. I’ll be in Aisle Six.
*He could see it in its eyes (ba-doom-CHHSH).
**His real name is “Agent Pseudonym”.
***We have a lot of hearts. Like cows. Not that I claim to be a Chem major.
****Coming next fall: “PNTSTCK 124 – PAINT STOCKING: MAN OR BEAST?”
*****We have, after all, a reputation to preserve.
©2008, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending