Sometimes, here in the Aarkvard University residence halls (motto: "OH MY GOD WHO DID THIS IN THE BATHTUB???!!!), one is inclined to moments of repose. One doesn't have the luxury often. Usually, one is enmired in one's homework for classes with names like Comparative Analysis of Comparative Studies ("A Comparative Approach"), or in diligently searching one's Physical Anthropology textbook for pictures of sexually excited gorillas (page 217, bottom left*). But every so often, one must kick back and sigh at the sweet, sweet sweetness of life. I like life. I believe I can state without fear of having to look things up that life is this country's fourth-finest invention, finishing just out of medal contention behind waffles, England, and Moist Towlettes.
I mention all this because I recently had a Life Experience, the recounting of which will require quotation marks. There is an art, you see, to recounting Factual Things that Factually Happened in Factual Life. You cannot say, "Today I saw Tim doing the Moist Towlette with a not unattractive goat". You must say, "Today I saw 'Tim' doing the Moist Towlette** with a not unattractive goat (NOTE: TIM IS HIS REAL NAME) (ALSO, THE GOAT MAY POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN UNATTRACTIVE)."
Which is to say, often in such matters there are personal feelings involved, which is why I have attempted wherever possible to take all real names - persons, places, things, carbonated beverages - and place them in quotation marks.*** I thought this would be sufficient to tell my particular story, but in fact it stopped just short. It turned out to be a far more complex undertaking, for reasons that involve fiction and fact and complexity and are very complex both fictionally and factually in their fictional and factual complexity. So I ask that you try to follow along with me as best you can. Those who complete the journey satisfactorily will receive a can of "Diet Coke". Ready?
Let us posit**** that there exist, in The World (a.k.a. America, popular states of), universities other than Aarkvard. Yes. Nobody wants to say it or hear it (intravenous consumption tends to be the method of choice), but it is true. Last month I had occasion to interface with one of these non-Aarkvard institutions - let's call it, at random, "Jake" University. Let us further posit that the folks at "Jake" had recruited me to write a column for the Jake Gazette (motto: "[UNFUNNY INSIDE JOKE] Since 1921"). So naturally I was psyched. I wrote up a thingy - thingies being my medium of choice - and went in and had more or less the following exchange:
JAKE GAZETTE EDITOR (in a small voice): I don't understand.
ME (reassuringly): It's okay. How about if I pull my column?
JGE (tearfully): Thank you.
In reality there was a little more to the conversation. There was the part wherein she voiced her Concern over my mentioning, not unrepeatedly, something called "Aarkvard". There was the part where she made known her Distress over my lack of attention paid to the Jake Community. There was the part where she flung a nugget of bodily waste at me for my troubles. At the Gazette they really value the Jake Community.
ME (delicately): You've seen the sort of stuff I write online, though. What did you think it was going to be?
JGE: We were like hoping you wouldn't write something like what you write.
ME: What were you hoping I would write?
JGE: I dunno. Like something like what you don't write.
ME (slowly, feeling this out): As ... opposed to ... what I do write.
JGE: Exactly. I mean it's like ... what is this supposed to be? Like with a personal story, you're supposed to like pull in your readers. Like, this doesn't ... I mean like what is this? I mean it's, it's not very ... very Jake. It's like you kind of mention Jake, but then you like don't. I mean it's like you don't wanna alienate your readers, right? You wanna mention like ... Jake. Like a lot more.
ME (pleasantly, and with carefully placed pauses): Right. If I didn't mention Jake every other sentence, readers at Jake might not know they were at Jake.
JGE (relieved that someone understands what it's like to be her): Right. Right. Right.
The best part, though, was when she said that - and I want to stress that this is a direct quote - "we think you have some writing ability." On that note, one good turn deserves another, and I guess I owe it to Jake University to say a few words about the Jake community. So here goes: Jake University, which has no other name, especially not one that sounds somewhat like "Jake," has a community. The Jake community is made up of many things. This same community (the Jake community) also involves people, who are biologically different (or, if you prefer scientific terms, "dimorphic") from things. Inane reference to a) INTERNET VERNACULAR, b) SOMETHING LOCALIZED, or c) SOMETIHNG ELSE THAT WILL BE RENDERED TOTALLY MEANINGLESS IN SIX MONTHS' TIME. Go Jake. Thank you.
Update: It is currently three seconds later, before I have technically posted this, yet the Jake community has already begun voicing their Displeasure by way of vitriolic missives (actual excerpt: "EE-EE-EE-EE-HOO-HOO-HOO-HOO") and the flinging of further waste at my door (actual excerpt: "THUMP (pause) THUMP (longer pause) THUMP"). Fine. It's their prerogative. I could have done better by them, but I have other work to do. Besides, they can do what they like: I know what they did in the bathtub.
*Discussion Questions: What factors (epistemological, political, or Cartesian) might have prompted the gorilla to display herself in this way? Would our society label the gorilla a "slut"? Explain.
**And by "doing the Moist Towlette," I mean "doing the Moist Towlette".
***Like this: "Diet Coke". See how ambiguous???!!! TA DAAAAAAA! I do birthday parties.
****Academic hoo-ha term, meaning "something academic hoo-ha people made up to mean 'posit'".
©2008, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending