Saturday, April 10, 2004

are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era? (or, a daft fad from my past)

Yesterday, a graduate student in my department came into my office and told me that he had a story for me. Seven years ago, he was dating a woman who was a graduate student at Stanford, who forwarded him an e-mail that had been forwarded to her from someone else, etc.. He found amusing then, and for whatever reason, thought about it again recently. He wondered if he could find it on the web. As it turned out, he could, on my webpage, because it turned out that I had written it and then later, for whatever reason, posted it among various other miscelleny on my site.

One of the things that this evoked by this interaction was a reminder of how dated my webpage has become, which I have resolved to fix once this semester is over (see post immediately below). I don't even want to link to my webpage, so I'll paste the party invitation below.

As you can see when you scroll down, the party was a palindrome party for my friend Nazan. I had to deflate the student's esteem for me by telling him that I did NOT actually make up the sentential palindromes in the message. I have a collection of palindromes. I was surprised how many invitees to the original party also thought I had come up with all them, which both dramatically overestimates my cleverness and dramatically underestimates the difficulty of composing (discovering?) palindromes. Clever English sentential palindromes are discovered at about the same rate as the discovery of new elements in the Periodic Table (and I'm sure there are many more people out there who have tried to come up with original palindromes than come up with new elements).

Other things evoked by the interaction:

1. The warm fuzziness of nostalgia for what was a very happy period of my life.

2. Dismay that it was already seven years ago.

3. The recollection that I enjoyed composing party invitations about as much as going to parties themselves, which was probably a harbinger of the weblog.

4. The memory that the Palindrome Party was the party where a friend of mine hooked up with this guy that we had previously called Psychology Twerp (he was a graduate student in psychology, and twerpish), and then afterward, due to some feature of the post-tryst account that I said I Did Not Want To Know, was renamed The Flying Nun.

Date: Tue, 6 May 1997 13:27:11 -0500 (EST)

From: Jeremy Freese
To: [recipients deleted]
Subject: A man, a plan, a canal... PARTY AT NAZAN'S!!!
Really massive party THIS FRIDAY NIGHT at Nazan's, 9pm.  Bring friends.   

Her address is 131 Teert Street, which is half a block
due south of the Irish Lion, behind Bank One. Much fun will be had by
all, so please come.
I have to warn you, though, the party has an unusual theme.  I mean, it 

could be a going away celebration for Nazan's roommate Jim, a friend of
many of us in the department. It could be to mourn the possibly looming
departure of Nazan herself. It could be to welcome Erin Maher back to
Bloomington, or to congratulate those who are receiving their Ph.D's. Or
the party could just be to bask in the end of the academic year and the
joy of impending summer. Any of these would be a good reason to throw a
big party, but aren't *the* reason.
Instead, Nazan wants to have a party in recognition of the fact that the 

name "Nazan" spelled backwards is also, amazingly enough, "Nazan". A
party in celebration of words like "kayak" and "race car", or phrases
like "No, it is open on one position". A party where she can come out to
the world for what she is, a hopeless and incurable cilohaholic, someone
desperately addicted to PALINDROMES, you know, things spelled the same
way frontwards and backwards.
Yes, really, a palindrome party.  Obscure, peculiar, exotic, but there 

it is.
And so, if you have ever been to a French-Lebanese restaurant and ordered 

"Le Falafel"; if you've seen Sharon drive by in her red Camry and
observed "A Toyota"; if you flunked out of gym class because you couldn't
do a "pull-up"; if you've taken to calling one of your socially inept
professors "Dr. Awkward"; if you've seen Dave in one of his fetching
yellow outfits and wanted to shout, "Yo! Banana boy!"; if you've spent
any of your academic career at IUPUI; if you keep candy stashed in a
secret "reward drawer"; if you've watched the Cosby Show and noticed that
"Lisa Bonet ate no basil"; if you had to quit going to the Kinsey
lunchtime brownbag because "sex at noon taxes"; if you've been addicted
to Xanax or PCP; if you've looked into a dark corner of the ISR and
wondered, "Was it a rat I saw?"; if you've been in the produce department
at Kroger and whined about there being "no lemons, no melon"; if you've
tried to start a conversation with a fourteenth-year graduate student by
saying "Here so long? No loser, eh?"; if you saw Jesse Jackson or George
McGovern host Saturday Night Live and gushed "Star comedy by Democrats";
if you've tried to entice a partner into insurrection by yelling "Revolt,
lover!"; if you've run out of a Variations in Human Sexuality lecture
with the cry, "Egad! No bondage!"; if you've seen ex-VP-Quayle in a glum
mood and noted "Poor Dan is in a droop"; if you've been to Oklahoma and
discovered "Tulsa nightlife: filth, gin, a slut"; if you've totally
gorged yourself at Fazoli's and had to shout "Go hang a salami! I'm a
lasagna hog!"; if you've thought your life was going to be ruined by
"Stats! Stats! Stats!"; or if you've ever gotten sloshed on your favorite
$3 green wine and muttered "Goddamn Mad Dog", then this, my friends, is
the party for ewe (and eye)!
Nazan will be there. Bob will be there. Anna will be returning for it. 

Elle MacPherson, Lil' Abner, Otto Van Bismarck, the guy who played Radar
O'Reilly, and (oh no!) Don Ho are rumored celebrity guests. Possibly:
Oprah & Harpo, Aidan & Nadia (in an unholy pairing of B-movie talent
with Romanian gymnastics), Gladys Knight and at least one Pip. Also:
senile felines, somebody's Mom and Dad (and Sis?). Music: Plan no damn
Madonna LP, but probably plenty of Abba, NIN, A-ha.
Obviously, 7/9/97 would be a better day for this party, but because Jim 

is leaving, we can't wait that long. Festivities will begin at 9:09pm
and will probably last until NOON the next day. Please BYOYB (Bring Your
Own Yeasty Beverage), or else bring some pop.
So come see Nazan and Jim's apartment and say "Wow!"; come celebrate the 

end of the semester and shout "Yay!"; come bring some delicious food so
we can go "Mmm!"; or just come to cheer and laugh: "Rah, rah! Har, har!"
But whatever you do, don't miss it, because a party like this only comes
around once every noillion years. Or maybe just every six years, because,
as Prince might say, Friday night we're gonna party like it's 1991.

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