It is the time of year in my broad shouldered state when the snow starts to melt and the thesis students began to come apart in delightful ways. After years of competing for advisors, fellowships, and recognition, this year's lumbering pack is beginning to stumble. Of course it is now the time for grad student smackdowns:
- Oooooh! A whole summer in Paris, all expenses paid, to market a new beverage in 20-something expat bars IS OBVIOUSLY the to-die-for culmination of your lifetime of education. Yes, of course you may take a leave of absence, and when you return, yes you may submit your Paris journal, in place of the required research thesis, for a degree. But I get to pick the degree, and it is looking like Master of Delusion. C'est la vie.
- Welcome back Dizzy! I know it was rude of me to leave your scheduled thesis defense for the airport, just four hours after you were a no-show. Yes, I did hear that you entered the building exactly when all the examiners were also leaving. No, I didn't get your 22 e-mails while I was on the big big airplane, or in the big city far far away. Really. It is because we crossed the international date line and your e-mails couldn't go back in time and reach me there yet. No no, I don't think the external examiners will want to fly back for a "do-over." Yes, yes, you are certainly still in graduate school. The captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. Please get comfortable for a very long flight.
- No, THANK YOU! Meathead, for failing to give a clear answer for any of the questions the examiners asked at your thesis defense. Yes, it is rigorous that you did not come to any meetings, respond to any emails, or even live in the same city for the last semester, because you wanted to try to do a thesis "on your own." No, I don't think the external examiner meant it when he asked "how did he ever get into graduate school?" He is not familiar with our cash-based graduate admissions process. Yes, I'm sure he was impressed when you mindlessly read off unrelated citations, like a tone-poem, including one from another students' thesis in place of the expected thesis statement. No, I don't know why people giggle when you tell them your presentation went well. Yes, you too are certainly still in graduate school. No, I will not be approving your thesis proposal, but you may have some lovely cookies for your efforts. And please do drink the complimentary Kool-Aid.
- That was a gutsy move Boobie, appearing completely immobile for two years and then lightning-fast submitting your horrific incomplete and incoherent first draft directly to the grad school, and then trying to schedule a thesis defense without informing your advisor. Did you think I wouldn't be notified of this, or even be invited to the defense? Fortunately when they called me to confirm, I got to try out all the convoluted obscenities you have muttered under your breath before me. They hung up on me, so I think I pronounced them correctly. Oh, you want to know what to do now? Repeat many times after me: "Do you want fries with that ma'am?"