September 24, 2012
Post #3125 – 20120924
My parents read me your children's books incessantly, we listened to you on NPR, and got through family vacations with your books on tape. To this day my mother says "It's a lovely color" whenever anyone gets a new car, and if a family member is given dirty silverware it is unanimously agreed up that it must be wildebeest guts. So, adding your eccentric legacy to my college experience was a thrill.
When I decided I was going to attend Bard College I did what any high schooler would do, I wikipedia'd Bard and it's celebrity alumni (it's a really great way to distinguish your college amongst your high school classmates, particularly when you are attending a tiny, weird Liberal Arts college in a town with three names). While I must admit that I name dropped the Beastie Boys to my peers more frequently than I mentioned Daniel Pinkwater, this realization that you were a Bard alum was the beginning of a queer game I began to play over the next four years.
As I would drive back and forth between my hometown of Philadelphia and Annandale-on-Hudson I would pick out mansions, houses, fruit stands, and overpasses and say to myself, "Now THAT is where Daniel Pinkwater lives!" and let out a sigh of relief. Now I'm unsure as to whether you even live in the Hudson Valley, but what this game did was reassure me that I could continue to be the quirky/weird/off-color and almost every synonym for "creepy" self I had developed into, that I had chosen a community that admired these attributes, and that one day I would join the wild group of Bard alumni who have given Bard its great name and reputation.
You were out of town when I invited you on behalf of the Class of 2011 to be our Alumni speaker at senior dinner. I still hope to see you live in the flesh someday and I appreciate your ghost companionship.
The Bard College I went to was a completely different place from the Bard College you went to. This would be true if you had written to me in 1972, 1982, 1992, or now, (as you have.) It was the perfect place for me, and no doubt some others. Still others were poorly served there. I don't get the idea that there's a special tradition, or the production of a certain type of graduate, connected with a place with transient students, relatively transient faculty, and especially one that has always been small, often was in financial peril and often needed to resort to expedients to keep the doors open. The class I arrived with was a product of the state of things just then, the real or imagined reputation of the college that brought us there, who happened to be teaching there at the time, and the talent of a director of admissions who had a gift for attracting interesting kids. We had the place to ourselves for a week before the other students returned, (the precursor of the ""reading and thinking"" program that Bard had later. Ours might have been called ""drinking and smooching."") We bonded. We were a good class. We did good things. I think the same group would have flourished at any college. I hope the Bard you went to did right by you, and was even better than the one I went to. I would not want anyone to apply to Bard just because you and I went there. (Yes, the converted fruit stand is my house.)