The Graves Center Succeeds!
Langston Hughes famously asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?”
Chuck Bennett knows. The director of the Grave Center for the Falling of Careers leads small-group meetings for adults who discovered how much it sucks when life takes your aspirations out to a fancy dinner, hints at a second date but never calls them again.
“Hi. Uhm, I’m Samantha Denton,” the young woman said dgeting with her keys wrapped around her ngers. She appeared as if she planned to bolt away at any moment, “My career is… awful.”
Upon graduating, Samantha prepared to change the lives of countless children and youngadults trudging through hardknock lives. With her, students would cry reading Anne Frank’s diary and march to the beat of their own drum. She was the perfect person to encourage inner-city students, or perhaps artistically suppressed all – male – boarding school students to believe in themselves.1 At twenty-three, the powers of ignorance faced a formidable enemy in Samantha Denton.
At twenty-ve, she realized her Hallmark-movie life could never m a t e r i a l i z e . Each day included less glamour and more bureaucratic red-tape than anticipated. The worst offense was her students‛ attitudes. She expected resistance to her undying love for education but the crime “that not even once has a student stood on his desk addressed me as, ‘O Captain, My Captain!‛” proved too much. Denton sobbed, burying her face in her hands. In doing so, she revealed her painfully ironic “2 Teach + is 2 touch + 1 Life= 4 ever” keychain. “How do I reach these kiiiddsss!?” she cried.
The compassionate group responded kindly. “That’s nothing!” shouted university adjunct Matthew Alvarez who failed to obtain a professor position. “I was told there would be a huge number of positions open, in just a few years. Lies!”
Bennett interjected, “HA! The exodus myth—so you’ve been told that in just a few years thousands of professors in your eld will be retiring?” Alvarez nodded. Bennett continued, “What do you expect graduate schools to say! ‘Oh no, please, don’t work for cheap for us or give us money?’” Bennett referred to some of the required readings of the course: Thomas H. Benton’s articles, “The Big Lie About ‘The Life of the Mind’” and “Graduate School in the Humanities : Just Don’t Go.”
Caleb High, the final member of the support group, of whom little is known other than he attended a liberal-arts school exclaimed , “Excuuuuuuse me! I went to a liberal arts school! The WORLD is my oyster! The review board even said my senior thesis was ‘well-written’…”
Alvarez’s lip furled, “You should know ‘well-written’ is a nice way of saying you just wrote pretty words. I know: my dissertation had an emphasis in criticizing critics and I have a B.A. in B.S.”2
The tension exploded into a mess of yelling and self-pity to rival the fury of a seventeen-year-old girl whose boyfriend dumped her on prom-night.
For anyone wishing to join a similar support group the late, outrageous, George Carlin gives some direction:
“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”
1. See “Dead Poets Society”, “Stand and Deliver” and “Freedom Writers.”
2. See “The Matrix,” it’s a metaphor for my life.Disclaimer: The Back-page contain the opinions of its editor SOLELY. The people described in this issue do not exist (do you?). Any resemblance to real people is incidental. Those pictured are actors posing as the author’s characters.