Friday, September 08, 2006

Jaws: A Fish Story

What a mistake. Exactly 180 degrees of mistake, meaning totally total wrongness.

But first the background. Costco is the background. At Costco it sometimes seems everything comes only in the huge sizes, sizes fit for just two things: having a party or surviving the long horrid aftermath of nuclear war for as long as possible until your stuff runs out at which point the living envy the dead.

In fact, that may be the nicest thing about having a party.

(About nuclear war the less said the better. Unless Bush decides we need one, of course.)

If you are having a party, you can in good conscience buy the 12-pack of canned oysters or the big box of Beers of the World.

When I come to Costco I do not want to be like some poor Soviet immigrant from the bad old days, venturing into a temple of American commerce and weeping at the plenitude.

I want to buy, and I want to buy and use so that I can come back and buy more. That's why I like a party.

As it happens tomorrow we are having a party. It is the Welcome Back Media Studies Department party. It is the first month of school. The Media Studies Department apparently feels it needs to be welcomed back, and it's my turn in the barrel.

It will be a good party but not a great party. Small departments like ours have good parties, really pretty good parties.

Because there is always a floor show.

The untenured faculty will manifest varying shades of caution in dealing with the tenured faculty. Some few untenured faculty as a matter of principle will display incaution. Such ones are wild and free, like free-range chickens, and their future prospects are just that bright.

They may even affect the obstreperous. Squawk. Peck at something.

But I need not speak of them because you will not be hearing much of them in the future, not here or elsewhere.

The tenured faculty will either stroke the untenured faculty in direct proportion to their demure behavior or try to get them drunk in the hope they will leap upon the table and shimmy and squeal, and thus be at the mercy of the tenured faculty.

All in good fun, of course. Whatever the circumstance, the untenured faculty are at the mercy of the tenured faculty. So you see why it will be a good party.

But why not a great party? You need a really big department filled with far more fools and rogues and roues than inhabit our collegial little unit to have a great party. Back in my days at North Carolina State University in its English Department -- of which I have warm memories in the sense that I like to imagine my former colleagues roasting in Hell -- we had some great parties. The untenured faculty were many and stood in great shoals and drank and drank, relying on one another to drag away any whose mouth seemed inclined to fly open if some fey greybeard wandered past wishing to talk of Milton.

Nothing like that at our little party. We are damn good people in Media Studies.

But we are not perfect. Some of us make mistakes, as in my case when I bought the huge box of cheese-flavored goldfish-shaped crackers at Costco on Thursday and made the tactical error of opening it up this morning, just (you know) for a little carbohydrate pick-me-up. The cheese-flavored goldfish-shaped crackers are each no bigger a dime, no not even that big. You remember the old French centime? About that big. And only five calories apiece. You could look it up.

But look not for the cheese-flavored goldfish crackers themselves.

That Bible verse: "Something something Rachel weeping for her children something something, but they were not."

Those cheese-flavored goldfish-shaped crackers. You would be astonished how many of them were and how many now are, well, quite simply....


Not any more.


B. Lundigan said...

I think you really have put your finger on a basic human trait. Nobody really can eat just one! I cut an article out of Prevention Magazine last month with some tips on how you can avoid overeating inappropriate foods. With your permission, I'll send you a copy. Or was it Reader's Digest? I'll check it out.

Anonymous said...

I adore your description of the faculty parties. Free-range chicks indeed! They go along so well with the fish that are no more.

Cass (of Cass & Steve) here in San Jose. Where there are neither goldfish nor free range chicks. But there are cats.

david silver said...

The tenured faculty will ... try to get them drunk in the hope they will leap upon the table and shimmy and squeal, and thus be at the mercy of the tenured faculty.

uh oh.

i thought it was exactly the opposite.

i thought untenured faculty were supposed to get tenured faculty drunk so that they, the tenured ones, would leap and shimmy and squeal and thus be at the mercy of the untenured who would, naturally, hover over the remaining stash of wine, beer, liquor, etc.

it appears now that i have it wrong.

it should be noted, though, that there was only one faculty party at my last place of occupation and drinks were far and few between - and leaping, not to mention shimmying, simply did not exist. so i never felt like i could really test this theory.