I am not quite sure how it works for you chaps in the lower parts of this continent, but here in the Armpit of the Empire, we are winding up for the start of semester in a couple of weeks. No one is happy about this fact, so our Dean, in his wisdom, hosts Faculty Drinks, in order to create the illusion that we are a jolly team of happy minions.
I am sure you are familiar with these events: there's a bit of food, a lot of low-quality alcohol (the wine is always swill, so stick to the BEER, which is at least name brand), and you skulk around the room trying (but not quite succeeding) to avoid the people you can't stand, while you exchange vacuous "how was your summer" pleasantries with the colleagues whose faces you don't want to push in.
The key to enjoying your BEER is to drink fast enough and be close enough to the door that you can duck out before the Dean's remarks. We all know this. I know this. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to make it out this year before the speeches started. I did manage to get another BEER and move nonchalantly closer to the couches, which, my god, ended up being necessary.
What the Dean is supposed to do is introduce the new hires, so we can recognize them in the hallway, and then let us get on with drinking the last of the booze. Instead, he opened with a 10 minute ramble about how, although he is thinking about retiring, he can't really do it yet (he says he wants to see students in our new degree program graduate, but I suspect it's because he needs to pay off his villa in Italy). This is a meandering speech with little point, and it reminds me of the time my father-in-law talked about the Great Space Turtle at my wedding reception.
Then we get to the introduction parts, and the speech goes from merely dull to the kind where you cringe and think about throwing yourself out a window.
- He introduced a new specialist in Native Literatures with a long digression into his boyhood enjoyment of playing "Cowboys and Indians". NO, I am not joking. Then he made a point of misidentifying the specialist's ethnic background, and had to be loudly corrected by the horrified onlookers.
- He introduced a new hire as "Julie" and when corrected that the person's name was "Norman" said "Julie is what's written here, so I am going to go with that."
- When he got to discussing the Philosophy hire, he did meander off into the Great Space Turtle, as far as I and the BEER could tell.