Thursday, November 27, 2008

"The Regulars." Weepy Wayne Celebrates Paleolithic Pete.

Let's return to the first day of Writing Skillz IV: The Final Conflict. I called attendance and you grunted a two-octave "Huh?" I distinctly remember thinking, “Sweet Merciful Adjunct Jesus. Is this semester over yet?” What gives, my little cro-mag? Startled by the sound of your name called in college classroom? You’re not alone. Yet for a brief while during those heady September days, your progress seemed real. Against all odds, you discovered your own opposable thumbs. Before your classmates could say, "Holy Homo erectus!” you were busily fashioning crude tools at your desk, flirting with the wonders of the Bronze Age. And the day you stalked a wooly Trapper Keeper across the classroom and thrust a sharpened #2 into its soft, white lined underbelly? Well, that would have given even Charles Darwin the spins.

But alas, that feral facsimile of writing ensnared in your first essay – three weeks late and, by all accounts, seemingly handwritten – was, well, alarming. My eyeballs whirred and pinwheeled like a chameleon's, mercilessly rope-a-doped by your brute approximation of the Queen's English. Somewhere on page three, it all ended abruptly. I felt as if I was mercifully spit out of a chute, freed from a twisted trainwreck of gnarled syntax and profligate punctuation. The room spun. I felt dizzy -- like my already wobbly IQ had somehow suffered a direct hit.

I brought your Dead C- Scroll to those livewires in the Archeology Dept. They busted out their little whisk brooms and secret spyglasses and pored over that spiral notebook fringed parchment of yours for a week. Two tossed up their hands and blamed everything on their TAs. One took sabbatical, because she could. And one theorized that this ‘writing sample’ belonged to a long lost tribe that worshiped a beneficent god the natives called ‘Spicoli.’ Apparently, this lollygagging cluster of failed hunter gatherers huddled in their cavedorm each morning and paid willing obeisance to a tall clear blue plastic obelisk, where offerings were dutifully set aflame “b4 my 9 oclock mafth clas.”

Apparently, someone's favorite Neanderthal had discovered fire long before he made his way to my classroom.

You know, it’s always the same with you people. When it's time for a paper topic, what pressing issue invariably gets dialed up? Appendages scattered across Iraq? Investment bankers turning Wall Street into Chernobyl? Polar Bears incinerated at the North Pole? Nope, H.R. Puffenstuff’s gonna throw a four-page hissyfit about why at 18 he can't gargle mass-produced beaver piss with the losers at McGuire’s tap or why those big mean L7's won’t let him suck on a bong till his brainstem shrivels to the size of a hazelnut. For some people, evolution hits the brakes at the Persuasion Paper.

Look dude, I’m no prude. But there’s a time and place for everything. I mean, who doesn't enjoy an 80 proof stiff arm from a paper bag in the morning parking lot? Who doesn't look forward to three blissfully lost months of jab and nod after the fall semester? No? Anyway. As my pals in the Anthropology Department will tell you, for certain cultural ceremonies, achieving an altered state is not simply advisable, it is necessary. Native American Peyote ceremonies. Pink Floyd lightshows (lasers for losers) at the palladium. Holiday potlatch with the Department Chair. But firing up a gorilla finger for Paragraphs for Palookas? Really? Isn’t that how we got here in the first place?