"Your father must be disappointed."

It wasn't said as a joke, and it wouldn't have been funny anyway.

There were other parents who fell in love with Reed. Many had never attended college themselves and would frequently joke, "I should apply here!" Something about the brick buildings, the huge lawn, the hard work, and the irreverent humor tapped deep into their idealized versions of college life. Their infatuation was apparent from the way they grinned and craned their necks to see everything, and from the volley of questions they fired.

There were also a number of professors from other colleges who went on tours with their children. They were lots of fun.

"Conference classes? But what if people don't do the reading?"

"Then we mock them." And, more frequently, "This sounds like grad school."

They got down to the nitty-gritty, the down and dirty, wanting Reed's attrition rate explained, asking about the "real" story of academic dishonesty if there's only an honor principle, and even dropping names of literary theorists to see if I knew my stuff.

"So, you probably haven't heard of Derrida, but he says-"

"Actually, I'm using him a great deal in my thesis. His idea of differencereally helps explain some uses of repetition in my play."

These tours were great preparation for my orals.

There were also the old standards: questions that played like moldy oldies in a bad musical review. Often, these questions wouldn't be broached directly by the parents, but you saw them coming.

"So, um, can you tell us about, you know, the night life here?"


"No, the, um, well, are there any problems, with, um, well, night life?"

"The library closes at 2 a.m.?"

"No, no-Um, well, I mean, with, partying, or, well-drugs?"

And then they'd blush. Standard. Routine.

They'd want to know why I came to Reed (I liked the architecture), how's the food (as good as institutional food gets), how much do you study during the day (all of it). Certain jokes that are location-sensitive were told twice daily; I came to have a certain appreciation for the artistry of actors in Cats.

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