Friday, May 31, 2013

i'm new enough not to know who you are

before attending my first ever commencement as a member of the faculty, i read up on academic regalia. how the hell do you wear those caps and gowns and hoods and why. okay, not so much the why part, as the how. i wanted to look the part. even contemplated buying my own set, but opted for the cost effective rental courtesy of my school.
i had steamed the robe, so i didn't look like i just rolled out of the dirty clothes hamper, or just unfolded the robe from the packaging, oy! and i was ready to go. i read up on the dos and don'ts of regalia and opted not for the long formal dress i had first put on, since it had synthetic fibres, i opted for a cool cotton summer dress, and i'll tell you, in the hour we were parked in line in the library waiting for the rain to let up, i was grateful for the cotton.
being the social recluse that i am, i had a book in hand and parked myself in the library but had such a delightful time watching everyone arrive and the graduates posing for pictures, and the janitors taking breaks, and the administrators administrating, that i got hardly anything read. the first man to roll into the library unpackaged his robe and put on the crinkled up thing with the square fold imprints running up and down the length of his body. if this weren't bad enough, his hood was tweaked and no one seemed to know how to help. so i step up.
can i please help you.
he let me. and faculty member after faculty member arrived with hoods askew. i followed the worst ones and asked,
can i please untwist you.
one such soul said,
yes, please do.
and said,
i wonder why didn't any of the others offer to help.
so as i'm buzzing around this finely dressed man whose doctoral hood was tweaked, i said,
probably because they know who you are, but i'm new, so i don't know who you are.
to which he replied,
then i will wait till you're finished to tell you who i am.
dun dun dun.
so, without skipping a beat, i introduce myself,
i'm so and so in such and such department.
and he goes,
as i say my department, which i make mental note of. then wind my way around this gentleman's hood to the front and ask permission to fasten his hood to his collar so it doesn't ride up on his neck. he says,
yes please.
and i fasten the loop around his shirt button and zip up his robe and smile at him.
we are standing face to face and he tells me who he is. i extend my hand and say,
pleased to meet you.
and excuse myself to follow the next poor soul with hopelessly tangled regalia who happened to be another dean. yes, dear children, you see, i had just introduced myself, meddling paws and all, to the dean of my department.
what else is there to do but smile. thinking back on it now, i grin. because i don't network. yet the universe has ways of getting it done, you know what i'm saying.
so as we processed into the gymnasium for commencement and the throng of students, 771 truth be told, took their seats, i met eyes with my dean. he smiled gratefully and knowingly at me.
and i, back at him.

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