BREAKING NEWS: I’ve received tenure at Harvard! I want to thank all of the enemies that I had to destroy to achieve this great honor. Roger Davis at Princeton’s department of nutrition—you questioned my research on the efficacy of an all-Pop-Tart diet, but I am living proof that the diet works. Yes, I have nose bleeds every day and my pancreas has the dysfunction of a failing Soviet client state, but I believe that having constant double vision makes me twice as optimistic about life. Lawrence Adler at Yale—you claimed that Yale, not Harvard, has the best paintings of dead white men doing questionable things in recent antiquity. Your foolishness was revealed when I personally oversaw the restoration of Harvard’s painting “Archibald Montgomery, Law School Dean, Gazes Upon His Eighth-favorite Mistress Whose Name He No Longer Remembers As He Wears A Pith Helmet And Asks A Colored Man Why He Isn’t Ten Feet Tall And Swaying To Savage Jungle Rhythms.” You are my eighth-favorite enemy, Lawrence of Yale; DON’T EVER CHALLENGE A HARVARD MAN. My seventh-favorite enemy is obviously Alan Fontaine of Iowa State University. I know that you’re reading this, Alan, because you keep inviting me to NSF panels even though I mailed you a glitter bomb that was shaped like me mailing you a glitter bomb. Your theories on Muppet physiology are childish and naïve, and I viciously refute them in my upcoming article “Parasitic Infections of Muppet Gastrointestinal Hand Holes." I wish you the best when you lose your endowed professorship and are forced to teach at a lower-tier institution that can’t even afford real Muppets and has to use oven mitts with faces drawn on them. And Bruce Jøhansen of the Oslo School of Economics—my sweet, sweet prince! I still remember your scathing book review of my grand opus “Not Even Once: A History of Birds Using Money To Pay For Things.” You claimed that my findings were “obvious” and “belabored,” and that Chapter 17 (“Red-tailed Finches and the Stock Market Crash of 1819”) was “so insane that I briefly convinced myself that birds have deep opinions about macroeconomic theory but have failed to act on them for millions of years.” Such little thanks I receive for midwifing your brief moment of lucidity! When I learned that I would be Reviewer #3 for your journal article, I covered my naked body in war paint and waited for Saturn to ascend so that the ancient ones could gaze upon my wickedness. I printed your manuscript on paper deemed unfit for office use, replacing my printer’s standard ink with a foul, vengeful tar that I made from discarded Waffle House cooking oil and a shredded copy of your sixth-grade report card. Triumphant, I dragged your manuscript through brackish ponds, allowing ghastly amphibious creatures to gnaw on your preposterous arguments until just a single tattered page was left. On that page, I used my grandfather’s charcoal pencil to draw a picture of myself dunking a basketball over your confused, athletically-incompetent body; with my non-dominant left hand, I scrawled a caption in poltergeist handwriting that said “PuT ThIS dRAwiNg oN YoUr ReFRigERatoR,” and I knew that you wouldn’t do it but that you’d still be consumed by the revelation that I know you possess a refrigerator.
Martha and the boys are doing well; we built a cabin by the hills. We pluck the blueberries beneath the torch of moonlight and watch the stars dance in the ocean of the sky. When little John sits on my knee, I see my father in him, and my father’s father too. He points to the field that lies just before the curve of the river, and he says, “Papa, why have you attached a plow to Bruce Jøhansen and forced him to plant ragweed despite his crippling seasonal allergies?” One day, son, you’ll understand—when you have tenure.