Now I realize that I have posted about Kalamazoo before, gentle readers, multiple times, in fact, but I have decided that it is time to cast a brief, but bright ray of light upon this most mysterious of gatherings and provide you with a vision of the true nature of the medieval conference. Here, therefore, is a description of my day:
- 5:30am: Wake up in pain because I have fallen asleep in a very uncomfortable spot, specifically, the bed in room 121 of Valley III dorm.
- 6:00am: Ibid.
- 7:00am: Ibid again.
- 8:00am: Wake up to shouting from my suite mate, Michelle, as someone has dared to phone her at 8am during Kalamazoo which is a Thing Which Is Not Done.
- 8:30-9:15am: Speak with various beloved relatives
- 9:20am: Call the organizers of the conference to confirm that I do not need a ride to the emergency room this morning.*
- 10:00am-4:45pm: Listen to brilliant papers presented by brilliant scholars of medieval studies, interrupted by visits to the book exhibitors and lunch at Subway.
- 5:00-6:00pm: wine hour
- 6:00-6:45pm: argue about whose turn it is to call a cab to get to dinner. Make Susannah call cab. Cab fails to come. Make Michelle call cab instead. Cab comes.
- 7:00-8:45pm: dinner.
- 9:00-9:20pm: open bar
- 9:30pm: group sing-along
I know that some of you are thinking, "WTF? Is this or is this not an academic event? I have heard about the dance. I have heard about the swords. I have even heard about the vicious swans,** but this group sing-along, this is an altogether new and frightening revelation!"
And you are right, my wonderful ones, for this is a secret rarely shared outside of the medievalist community: we have a group sing-along. If you come to Kalamazoo, you may find yourself innocently sipping a beer from your red solo cup, when the Venerable Pete will quietly approach. "Next room over, " he will whisper. And if you are wise (and have imbibed sufficient beer), you will follow that Pete to the next room over and witness....nay! you will participate...in the most amazing group sing-along in all of academe.
There will be songs from Peter, Paul and Mary, songs from Ireland, even songs from Johnny Cash. They will not be sung well, precious readers, but they will be sung thoroughly. The Guy Named Joe, he can play those instruments, and he will valiantly introduce his fellow medievalists to a key. But what is a key to a medievalist? A mere suggestion, a drop of sound, as soon lost as heard, for when medievalists sing together, we make use of all of the notes, often all at once.
Tonight, however, the group sing-along faced a peril unforeseen: the Guy Named Joe broke his g-string. Alas, what would we do? I must tell you honestly, loyal readers, that I was worried. But, fool that I am, after all of these years, I still underestimate my fellow medievalists. Did we scatter while the Guy Named Joe struggled to replace his g-string? We did not! For we are medievalists.
While the Guy Named Joe repaired his instrument, his fellow medievalists boldly stepped forth to lead us in singing sea shanties (sea shanties, my dears, are like songs except more shouty). And when we ran out of sea shanties, another medievalist held our rapt attention by reciting a poem he had penned about an Abundance of Overweight Cats. It was a moving poem, and when it ended, That Guy Named Joe returned to us, his instrument once again whole, to lead us in a very vox clamantis of Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons."
This is my twenty-first Kalamazoo conference, my friends, and I still feel the same way I did when I attended my very first one: being a medievalist is the very best thing a person can be. Well, next to Batman. It might be better to be Batman. But if you can't be Batman, being a medievalist is the very best thing a person can be.
*Because the previous evening I was attacked by a bunny rabbit and took a great fall and that Michelle was forced to file an incident report in order to get extra towels and some ice for my knee.
**The swans are vicious, dear readers, but they do not leap out at you in the dark, causing you to plummet to the ground, roll down a hill, and alarm security personnel. Remember: it's the rabbits that will git you!