There's no better way to make yourself feel like an underachiever than to read the "class notes" section of an alumni magazine. Why aren't you the ambassador to France? How come you haven't won the Nobel Prize for chemistry?
This is fairly typical of the things that appear in my alumni quarterly: "John Smith ('92) has sold the movie rights to his latest best-seller for $10 million. The novel, based on his adventures sailing the Pacific, has been nominated for a National Book Award. John will be portrayed in the film by Brad Pitt. John splits his time between his penthouse in New York and his homes in Aspen and Nantucket." How do you think that makes me feel? After 20 years in the workforce, I've finally gotten an office with a window. It overlooks a parking lot.
Careful readers will have noticed a dangerous new trend: editors are allowing graduates to brag about getting married and having children. That marks a healthy shift away from honors and promotions as yardsticks of success, but such announcements read as if getting married and having children are recent inventions. This trend also gives those who report their every little career move something else to gloat over. Those people, of course, are the ones you never wanted to know anything about in the first place. They are also the ones who always had their hands up in class.
What's needed now are class notes for the rest of us. Just because we happen to be mired in mediocrity does not mean our lives aren't worth mentioning, too. I hope the day isn't far off when we will be able to pick up the Alumni News and encounter items like these:
· Edgar Filbert ('74) is having a midlife crisis; he got a hair transplant and recently bought a red sports car.
· Mary Jane McGillicutty ('65) won $246 in the state lottery. Her winning numbers were 3, 7 and 8. Mary Jane, who plays the lottery often, dreams of striking it rich and retiring from her boring job as a chemist.
· J. Chauncey Johnson III ('79) still thinks he should have been admitted to Yale.
· Ruby Applegate ('76) hired an expensive lawyer and took her husband for all he was worth in their recent divorce. She now resides in Palm Beach with a water-ski instructor.
· After hanging in there for almost four months, Janey Jones ('68) finally finished Ulysses. She tries to read a book a month but is often interrupted in the evening by junk phone calls.
· Last summer, the impatiens Gretel Greensleeves ('39) planted near her azalea bushes won third prize in her condo association's annual border-plant contest. She and her friends get together to play cards on the third Wednesday of every month except August.
· During a trip to Detroit, Mario Marcus ('55) saw a baseball game at Tiger Stadium. He's hoping to catch a Brewers game the next time business takes him to Milwaukee.
· Sandy Anderson ('77) takes care of her mother and the kids, works full-time and volunteers at the hospital. She falls asleep on the couch a lot at night.
· Stefan Stormslosher ('41) likes to clip supermarket coupons from newspapers and stash them in the top drawer of his wife's writing desk in the kitchen.
I know what you're thinking: maybe we should just dispense with class notes altogether. Actually, that might not be a bad idea.