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Monday, August 6, 2012

Post #17: The Final Week

Hey folks, it's Monday, August 6th, which means we have officially begun the final, truncated week of the Bread Loaf School of English for the summer of 2012. (That's a mouthful. I need a nap now.) It's also the last week of Dispatches from the Mountain. Only one more entry remains after today's. Please stop cheering. But also permit me two indulgences. 1) This post is wicked long (that's what she...nevermind), and 2) I've included a brief, one-question survey at the end to help me clear up a long-standing mystery about Who You Are.

But before we discuss the Final Week, I think I should tell you about this past weekend. It was a doozy, folks, a real humdinger filled with Hamlets, stormy weather, moonlight swims in mountain lakes, and a massive power outage on Sunday night. The power outage happened at a particularly inopportune moment for the Loafers, as many were in the midst of frantically writing their final papers. The outage left the power-deprived Nerds with nothing to do except wander helplessly into the front lobby of the lantern-lit Inn where they huddled together to form what Edward aptly termed a [Nerd] "refugee camp." There they played games long into the night while the Mavens looked on in bemusement. The Nerd Refugee Camp inspired Fellow Maven MacNair to proclaim, "Isn't this wonderful! I hope it lasts for the next four days!" I agreed. We turned back the clock. We experienced a childlike innocence for one lucky night. With beer and whiskey, of course. 

Fellow Mavens Peter and Victoria entering the Little Theater for Friday Night's Hamlet: Don't Fear the Reaper.  

 Blurry Nerds, a painting by Van Gogh.
Postmodern Prometheus: Maven Overlord Victoria springing into action, bringing artificial light unto the Nerds.
Last summer, I leapt off an outrcropping of rock into a pool of water called the Warren Falls. It was a moment facing true fear. This summer, the moment of fear was taking a moonlit swim in a mountain lake. Moonlight swim sounds harmless to you, but you are not in therapy. Pictured here: Half-naked Nerds on Rocks. Not pictured: my fear of water snakes, stirrings of love for Mother Nature, and longing for my Special Visitor, whose absence was deeply felt. Too much?

On to the Final Week. The Final Week ends early, on Wednesday, but there are still a few bits of business that need to be attended to. There's the final Karoake night, of course, when Bread Loafers stream down off the Mountain in droves to lay siege to the local tavern, Two Brothers. That's tonight. Then there's the final Gilmore bash tomorrow evening, which promises to be the picture of class and restraint, save for the planned Drunken Nerd Mud Wrestling competition. And finally for the Final Week, there is the small matter of settling the Bread Loaf Bocce Ball tournament. Second only to March Madness in terms of popularity, the Bocce Ball Final Four wraps up over the next two days. And guess who's playing today for the right to compete in the championship game? That's right, Fellow Maven Gene and yours truly, otherwise known as the MacNair-Do-Wells. Your fearless Maven Duo are facing off against another team of Bocce Nerds right after dinner. It's on, folks, it's on.

This is Oliver L. He's ten years old. He likes to read the New Yorker. As you can see, he's sitting in the wicker chair normally reserved for the Mavens. He was one of our opponents on the way to the Bocce Final Four. Don't worry: we stomped him.

In conclusion, let's just say that the Final Week is different for every Bread Loafer from the first year students to the veteran professors to the kitchen staff. Some are wistful, some are tearful, some are grateful to be done. Nonetheless, two days from now, most of the Loafers will say goodbye to the Mountain and head back to their "regular" lives, wherever those may be, and as they drive away down Rt. 125 past the Ripton Country Store, you can bet they will ask themselves questions like, "Did that really happen?" and "What is that stain?" and "When can I come back?"

For today's installment of Edward Insults Me: Recently, Maven Overlord Victoria invited the Mavens to enjoy a nice glass of wine on her back porch before attending Hamlet. It was a really pleasant affair, full of good cheer. Edward wasn't there but when he did show up he looked around the porch, saw me, and announced, "You're here? How did you get invited? This used to be a nice house. Used to be." 

Christian Patrick Clarke
Front Desk Novitiate, 2012
Hic et Ubique.

And now, being that it's the Penultimate Entry of Dispatches from the Mountain (Penulti-what? Penulti-who? Yes, I could have written the "second to last entry," but that's not what Nerds do.) I thought I would turn the tables and ask the readers from the overseas countries to stand and declare yourselves. Who are you? I'm bursting with excitement to know. You can do it publicly in the comments section or shoot me an email or leave a comment on Facebook. I have a fair idea of who the readers are in some of the countries, but I'm absolutely dying to know: Who are you in Russia and Ecuador and Spain and Germany? Do I know you? Have we met? Did I embarrass myself? I was probably drunk and/or sober. I'm sorry. So very sorry. 

I'll miss you.

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