A Matter of Timing

by Rob Valet | 4/27/01 5:00am

As "The Zetemouth" scandal settles down, I would urge you all to take a minute to try to remember the true victims in this tragic affair: the handful of poor forgotten Dartmouth columnists like myself who, through no fault of their own, were scheduled in precisely the wrong part of the two-week columnist rotation to get a decently timed article out of the deal.

Last Tuesday I was utterly heartbroken that a "Major News Event" was taking place, and I wasn't scheduled to write again for another week and a half! As good little newsmen and women, we columnists like to roll in other people's misery like pigs in mud, and here was a perfectly good mud-pile that was drying up before I was going to get to jump in!

Condemned to the sideline, I could only read the work of my fellow staff columnists and sigh that it could have been me writing smug, self-righteous appraisals of the whole sordid little affair. I mean, aren't I just as smug and self-righteous as the next person? Where's the justice?

Nor is this the first time that the cruel hand of chronology has smitten me. I have managed to be scheduled at precisely the wrong time to comment on just about every major Dartmouth news event to come down the pipe. I was on a Language Study Abroad when the Student Life Initiative came out two years ago. The Zantop murders happened at the beginning of Winter term and there wasn't too much to add by the time I started writing. The Computer Science 4 debacle first appeared on my off-week, as did the most recent piccadillo, "The Zetemouth" affair, so they were pretty much pass by the time I had my columns due.

Of course, you might point out that if I really wanted to keep current, I could simply write and submit columns at other non-assigned times, to which I would reply that you are a mighty cheeky little monkey who should shut his banana hole. Fine columns, like fine wine, require a certain amount of aging to achieve the proper balance of grape juice, yeast, and so forth. Specifically, columns need to be aged precisely two weeks before they can be bottled up and shipped off, so it simply would not be possible for me to whip one off every day, even if I wanted to. Which I don't, because I am lazy.

Thus it is that I am far behind the times on yet another major "Dartmouth News Event," and feeling rather like Jackie Harvey, one of my favorite Onion fake columnists, who writes a column entitled "The Outside Scoop" ("Item! 'Titanic,' that wonderful movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, is now available on video!"). It is probably somewhat telling that, whenever I read these columns, I always find myself muttering, "Man, it's not your fault. I bet you just got put in a bad part of the rotation." I feel his pain.

But despite these continual setbacks I do not lose hope. I know that one day in the perhaps not too distant future, my columnist schedule, the laws of probability, and the general stupidity of humankind will all converge (in all likelihood this convergence will be immediately preceded by someone yelling, "Hey y'all, watch this!"), and in one glorious newsworthy instant, I will have something exciting and current to write about for the next day.

And a word to those of you who are continually disappointed when our human imperfections come to light: yes, it is tragic that collectively we humans never seem to learn. But what we should all try to keep in mind is that as long as we fail to learn from our past mistakes, there is the ever-so-slight chance that eventually one of the screw-ups will be properly timed such that I can write about it. And that's really all that matters.