Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Tag End of the Semester

Here it is, the tag end of the semester, students and faculty are just days away from enjoying yet another wonderful New Mexico summer.

Well, actually, while a New Mexico spring is fantastic--our summers are a little rough.  Already the state is so dry that the cows are giving condensed milk, the chickens are laying powdered eggs, and there is so much static electricity, that while walking through a parking lot, I accidentally jump-started a Buick.

There is a certain pattern to the end of a school year.  Students you haven’t seen regularly since February start showing up in your office with doctors’ notes explaining how the student was forced to miss the last six weeks of class due to the Galloping Galontis, the Chilean Creeping Crud, or an advanced case of Holy-Shit-I-Think-I’m-Failing.  The only known antidote for the latter is hard work, which, unfortunately for the student, if he were capable of it would have already effectively worked as a vaccine. 

The strangest behavior in the last few weeks has not been exhibited by the students.  Some of the faculty are also beginning to show the stressful signs at the semester’s end.  Professor Maleficent, the Matray Chair of Anthropophagic Studies, is desperately seeking a way to extend her interminable leave of absence for just one more semester, without pushing her retirement date past her life expectancy.   Despite the pleas of her publisher, she needs just one more semester to finish writing her cookbook.

The surest sign of a semester’s end, however, is the all too predictable return of Professor Chupacabra stalking his colleagues.  As soon as he realizes that he will no longer have students to torture, he turns to attacking those who work around him.

This is the sort of problem not isolated to Enema U.  It seems to be universal that, just as you feel motivated to really put your shoulder to the wheel and get some work done, some blithering asshole comes along and pushes you into a black hole of demotivation.  It wouldn't be so bad if you could isolate all of these mental midgets in one spot, where they could spend all day cancelling each other out.  Unfortunately, the universe seems to scatter the problem children around the world in such a way that each and every organization has its own private moron riding the brake on progress.

God knows, we have a beaut here at Enema U.  For a long time, most of the students and damn near all the faculty had considered him to be some form of evil troll that lived under the educational bridge of life.  Periodically, he slithers out of the ooze of imagined slights to scream his personal anguish at an imagined victimization from those he deems inferior, before the light of day burns his bloodshot eyes and he scampers back under his dank bridge.  Hiding behind the bent shield of tenure he emails his curses.  Rarely seen, the only sign of his presence between attacks is the labored breathing of the troll--a sound not unlike the rattling hiss of a leaky boiler.

But, it turns out that we were wrong.  He is not a troll--he is in fact Professor Chupacabra, a beast long thought to be mythological. While most of the stories about a chupacabra say that he survives by sucking the life out of goats, our Professor Chupacabra has only been known to kill them with his bare hands.  Goats are only a hobby--he prefers to suck the life out of an entire department, embroiling the faculty in pointless and childish arguments that would shame kindergarteners.

There is, however, a solution.  Even as I write this, the department is taking up a collection to enroll Professor Chupacabra in the Lard of the Month Club.  When he finally has the inevitable heart attack and the Biology Department has performed the necropsy, we plan to bury the monster under the Education Building.

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