Sam's Little Larks

by Sam Van Wetter | 10/22/15 6:26pm

ACADEMIC SAM and ACAD-EH-MIC SAM are studying together.

ACAD-EH-MIC SAM: I think this item is pretty good.

ACADEMIC SAM: Did you finish?

ACAD-EH-MIC: Pretty much.

ACADEMIC: Do you understand it?

ACAD-EH-MIC: Pretty well. I think I’ll be done.

ACADEMIC: You didn’t finish it, did you?

ACAD-EH-MIC: I answered all the questions. Mostly.

ACADEMIC: You gotta stop doing this, Sam. This is your homework, not some lukewarm beer you can half-finish and then drop.

ACAD-EH-MIC: I would never drop a half-full beer.

ACADEMIC: Exactly, and you should never abandon your homework unless you’ve done it to the best of your abilities. Now, why don’t you look back over it, make some edits and finish your conclusion. After that we can spellcheck, grammarcheck, factcheck, typecheck, citationcheck and perfectcheck. We could also translate it into French and then back to English, but I only do that when I’m looking for a certain je ne sais quoi.


ACADEMIC: And then we can email it to your professor, your dad, your dean, my dean, RWIT, a couple of listservs and Hanlon for some feedback.

ACAD-EH-MIC: Why would you ask Hanlon for feedback for this paper?

ACADEMIC: You’re right. It’s a little right-brainy for him, isn’t it? Better send it to Gail instead.

ACAD-EH-MIC: That’s nuts. I wouldn’t want them reading my best work, much less this piece of recyclable bullsmash.

ACADEMIC: All work should be your best work.

ACAD-EH-MIC: How can all work be my best? That’s not how superlatives work. If it’s the best, that means there’s nothing better.

ACADEMIC: Right. Everything you do should be better than everything you’ve ever done before. In surpassing everything else it becomes the best. So everything is the best until the next assignment.

ACAD-EH-MIC: That’s crazy! Just think of everything you’ve ever done! I mean, I got into Dartmouth. I’ve written the only essay in existence discussing Sylvia Plath’s thematic betrayal of Space Jam. In kindergarten, I wrote a poem about my beta fish Betty and how she eats buckets of butter. How can I beat that?

ACADEMIC: I told you, translating it into French —

ACAD-EH-MIC: But I don’t have time for that. There’s so much else I have to do. I mean, you know those response papers due in our 2A every week? Are you saying that I should spend as much time and concerted effort on those as on, like, my thesis? That’s actually crazy. That’s unrealistic.

ACADEMIC: Reality has no control over true academics.

ACAD-EH-MIC: Maybe that’s my issue. Maybe I’m not truly academic.

ACADEMIC: Of course you are. He wouldn’t have let you start classes if you weren’t.

ACAD-EH-MIC: Who wouldn’t?

ACADEMIC: The Sorting Hat.

ACAD-EH-MIC: The Sorting Hat?!

THE SORTING HAT: The Sorting Hat!!

ACAD-EH-MIC: I didn’t know Dartmouth had a Sorting Hat.

THE SORTING HAT: If you don’t know, now you know.

ACAD-EH-MIC: I never got sorted.

ACADEMIC: Yes you did.


ACADEMIC: Remember that day during Orientation when we were all taken into the President’s Office for no reason? Well the Sorting Hat was there, just kind of hovering over the door frame.

THE SORTING HAT: I sorted everyone who walked in. The Common App is a pretty good threshold, but people can sometimes slip through so I double check before you start classes. Someone who isn’t a true academic wouldn’t fare very well here at Dartmouth so, really, we’re just keeping them from misery.

ACAD-EH-MIC: Wait. I never got sorted.

THE SORTING HAT: Of course you did. I sorted everyone who walked into the late and great C. Folt’s office.

ACAD-EH-MIC: I never walked into Folt’s office.

ACADEMIC: What do you mean? Everyone on our floor did.

ACAD-EH-MIC: I got stuck in a Fahey bathroom. I put my blazer on backwards which inadvertently rendered my arms immobile and it wasn’t until Jan, our floor custodian, came in to empty the trash that anyone noticed I was missing. She helped me cut the blazer off and I ran to Parkhurst but our floor had already finished.

ACADEMIC: That’s impossible.

ACAD-EH-MIC: I thought so too. I thought my UGA would at least take attendance, but apparently she thought I was the same person as this girl on my floor.

THE SORTING HAT: But I’ve sorted everyone.

ACAD-EH-MIC: That explains so much! I was never meant to go to classes in the first place! I’m not a true academic! I should drop out! I should transfer to Cornell!

ACADEMIC: We have to sort you.


ACADEMIC: Come on, Sorting Hat. Is he an academic or not?

ACAD-EH-MIC: I’m not! I’m not! That’s why I never start a research paper more than 48 hours before it’s due! That’s why I always wait for a vaguely threatening email from my Dean before I pick classes for the term! That’s why I skim! That’s why I’m scraping by! I’m not an academic!

ACADEMIC: Sort him!

ACAD-EH-MIC: Sort me!


(There is a pregnant pause.)

THE SORTING HAT: Hmm, difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind, either. There’s talent, oh yes. And a thirst to prove yourself. But where’s your motivation?

ACAD-EH-MIC: (Whispering) Not academic… not academic.

THE SORTING HAT: Not an academic, eh? Are you sure? You could be great, you know. It’s all here in your head. And being an academic can help you on your way to greatness, there’s no doubt about that. No?

ACAD-EH-MIC: (Whispering) Anything but academic… anything but academic.


ACADEMIC: Academish?

THE SORTING HAT: See, they slip through the Common App sometimes. They appear to be thinkers, creators, focused and goal-oriented, but they’re actually just looking for a good time, an occasional good read, some good conversations with good friends and teachers.

ACAD-EH-MIC: That’s me!

THE SORTING HAT: Easily satisfied with the bare minimum, inclined to turn things in late and poorly edited.

ACAD-EH-MIC: It’s like you’ve read my mind!


ACAD-EH-MIC: So I can turn this in, right? Even though it’s a first draft?

THE SORTING HAT: Of course. That’s what academishes do.

(ACAD-EH-MIC SAM bounds out of the room.)

ACADEMIC: What about me?

THE SORTING HAT: Sit back down. Remember, every assignment better than the last. You’ve still got to translate back from the French.