THE ANDOVER-EXETER CHAINSAW MASSACRE
In light of my justifiably-celebrated longevity as an on-line teacher, I have often been asked to share my academic coping skills. For some reason, my interlocutors have usually been young, inexperienced and untenured adjuncts.
So far, I have refused to “spill the beans”, for fear that some jealous, upwardly-mobile wannabee would tip off my own administrator, that my magic would be gone forever and that my beloved job would be at risk.
Let me describe my thinking to you this way. Think of the Wizard of Oz, at the precise moment that the curtain was moved aside and Dorothy looked in. At that intimate moment, Mr. “O” was nonplussed, to say the least. In my own way, I would be nonplussed, too, except that -- in my case -- Dorothy’s role would be played by Horace Calabash, my associate dean for faculty affairs.
The Informed Reader may remember Calabash’s starring role in the cult classic, “The Andover-Exeter Chainsaw Massacre”. It may also be remembered that Calabash left his position at Andover very soon thereafter (that very same school term, in fact) and became an administrator at an on-line, for-profit college in North Dakota (of all places). At my school, in other words.
This move, of course, was manifestly occasioned by his unwise and uncounselled acceptance of the Karloff Award (“The Boris”) for Best Decapitation Scene.
As it happened, Andover’s Vice Chair for Institutional Development (i.e., the chief fundraiser) was seated in front of the black-and-white television set in the faculty lounge, just as Calabash (on television) was thanking his director, his wife and his many friends and supporters at Andover. The VC was utterly distraught as The Boris was triumphantly raised above Calabash’s grateful head. Calabash left the school’s employ the next morning. Post hoc ergo propter hoc, one might say.
Anyway, until very recently, that same Calabash was my boss. In fact, he has skulked about in my virtual collegiate neighborhood for the last five years, dragging his chainsaw behind him.
(I’ve never actually seen the chainsaw at any time in the past five years, but those sounds trailing behind him have that certain je ne sais quoi that gives moral certainty to what would otherwise be ambiguous. In other words, those sounds are identical to the ones in the sound track of Calabash’s movie)
Anyway, I have recently achieved the age of reason, as plainly evidenced by my recent permanent move to sunny Florida after 65 bone-chilling Winters living on the tundra located North of Boston. I am also retired from on-line teaching and live frugally but well, on Social Security. I do not own a computer, nor am I connected to the internet in any way. In fact, I am living “off the grid”. I am now safe from Calabash.
Accordingly, I can share now the secret of my professional longevity:
It is always better to be “in camera” than it is to be “on camera”.