October 28, 2004

Welcome, Parents! Never Mind the

Welcome, Parents! Never Mind the Lacan!

If you have a son or daughter intellectually treading water at your local college, soon an annual festivity will be upon you: Parents weekend.

You know the drill, dear reader: Each university spends one weekend each year pretending it’s not the haven of radical craziness it is. We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” assume that each college’s president hands down an executive order to his Womyn’s Studies, Black Studies, Comparative Literature, English, Sociology, Cultural Anthropology, Public Policy, and History departments: For two short days, don’t infest our university with all kinds of anti-capitalist pilfer. The folks who are paying for this stuff are on their way, and we want to pretend that we offer a solid education to their little darlings.

All across campuses, special postmodern clean-up squads scour the halls, ripping down posters that may offend the delicate sensibilities of the fifty-something characters who fork over those hefty tuitions checks. For one short weekend, nary a flyer with a title such as “Queering the Beach Boys: Toward a Hermeneutics of a Radical Gay Aesthetic” can be found.

In the place of such entertaining talks, universities during parents weekend normally book a speaker whose liberal credentials aren’t foreboding enough to make parents suspicious that they are paying hefty sums to make sure their children are being brainwashed into some noxious brand of grandiloquent Castroism. You know, like Al Franken.

For one short weekend, colleges work under the fiction that they are objective enclaves devoted to the pursuit of Truth.

Naturally, dear reader, college presidents aren’t the only ones involved in such duplicity. University students blithely greet their parents, and, in between sheepish requests for money, pretend to be deeply involved in their courses. Sure, they may be taking such intellectually grueling classes as “An Introduction to Coaching,” and “Marvel Comics,” but that doesn’t mean they normally waken from their drunken stupor early enough to attend at 1:50 every Tuesday and Thursday. For this one weekend, however, students hide their bongs, shove their Milwaukee’s Best under their beds, and cover their rooms with photocopied articles they’ve never read.

Nor, dear reader, are the students the only part of this massive two-day fake-fest. The parents play their own part. Usually clad in uproariously preppy clothing, college parents spend their parents weekend attempting vainly (in both senses of the word) to make it appear as if they could be college students themselves. “Look at me,” say their sweaters, “We’re wrapped around the shoulders of a man who happens to be 47, but he doesn’t look a day over 21.”

Yeah, sure: If you don’t count the bald head and beer gut.

In short, dear reader, parents weekend is the closest a college comes to a postmodernist’s dream: Everyone is pretending to be something he isn’t.

Posted at October 28, 2004 12:01 AM | TrackBack