It’s not a lie. My cat Clancy, AKA the Grey Menace, attended Boston University. OK, it’s true that he never matriculated, paid tuition, and never “walked” to receive a degree, but attend he did. He probably participated in more anthropology lectures than any other cat ever. And that includes vocally protesting when he felt the professor was in error.
Some of the feline parables he spoke were neither appreciated nor understood by the professors. Tony Leeds, one of my favorite professors, began to wonder why the class was tittering and giggling while he was seriously lecturing. Looking behind him, he spied Clancy Stretched out the table, carefully cleaning himself and paying no attention to what Tony said. When he noticed all eyes were on him, he carefully turned his back and resumed. My professor had some trouble refocusing our attention on fieldwork methodology.
If Clancy had a vet appointment, he’d be at lectures with me. When the landlord was fumigating the big loft building where I had my studio, Clancy also attended class. The Menace attended lectures, symposia, and even a few departmental get-togethers. He carefully investigated the menu and platters at the parties for favored tidbits. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The summer following my graduation at BU was spent on the coast of Maine helping my father-in-law, the Cap’n, build a small marine railroad for hauling boats. While supervising and catching small creatures in the intertidal zone was interesting, it lacked the challenge of academia. Late in August, we departed the mid-coast for the last time and took an incredible road trip south to Pennsylvania.
His interests at grad school matured, and instead of attending classes, he focused on the party scene. After my second year, we rented an apartment in a converted mansion. To be blunt, it was a party house. There was a huge backyard just perfect for late-night dance parties. Clancy took to this as if it were his native environment, strolling among the dancers, being adored by young women, and eating from the buffet. It was a feline paradise.
So you ask, what about the title? Sometime after returning to the Boston area after grad school, I sat at the typewriter composing Curriculum Vitae and resumes. Clancy sat by the typewriter; I called him my coauthor because he spent so much time with me when I wrote – frequently trying to grab the flying typewriter keys. He was also always intent on letting me know he was bored. Well, so was I; at best, I never was a great typist, and working on a multipage CV was no fun.
I ripped the current sheet out of the machine, looked at Clancy, and said, “OK, let us write your CV.” For a Felis domesticus, it turned out to be pretty impressive: attended both Boston University and a prestigious Ivy League grad school, coauthored with Louis N Carreras numerous papers delivered at national and regional anthropological society meetings, and extensive fieldwork along the coast of Maine. He is currently seeking a position commensurate with his experience.
Being a lover of the absurd, I sent the fake CV out. The only thing that tripped us was the lack of actual graduation dates. On the CV, I did imply that his post-grad status was ABD ( all but dissertation). We got one reply thanking us for applying, but the position had already been filled.
He seemed offended and peed on the letter that night. To be fair, he did this occasionally to papers I had written ( a judgment of their quality?), but I felt he took this rejection seriously. After this, he moved on to post-graduate activities and seemed to forget the halcyon days of academia, as did I.