I stumbled across this gem the other day when I was reading Tulane's school newspaper, The Hullabaloo*, a mostly mediocre publication that at times is useful--for example, in this issue was also a map of all the Mardi Gras parades routes. My respect for the paper grew exponentially after I saw that they had enough sense to feature someone as brilliant as John Kennedy Toole though, even if it was just in the capacity of cartoonist. I'm hoping that the name John Kennedy Toole will delight you as much as it does me. If it's not even ringing a bell...
Sorry. Had to take a minute to recover. It's just sad. Toole graduated from Tulane and went on to write A Confederacy of Dunces, a masterpiece of excellent prose and stupefying vocabulary. I had to read it with a dictionary, and trust me and the SAT, I know my vocab. Or I thought I did. It's also hilarious--the story of Ignatius J. Reilly, a monstrous, wildly intelligent, sloth of a guy. He disdains pop culture and lives with his Mother at 30-years-old. He's in love with that minx Myrna...he works at Paradise Vendors. It's set in New Orleans which didn't really mean that much until I moved here.
It turns out that Toole also frequented the Prytania Theater, which is where we still go and see midnight movies and Weirlein's the music store--as it would turn out Ignatius' favorite soda, Dr. Nut, is real. And of course, Lucky Dog makes a cameo as Paradise Vendors, the best complement to anything you could buy on Bourbon Street. Trust me.
There's a short list of things I admire in this world: including, but not limited to, Renaissance-era painting, mechanics, cleverness, people who can add in their heads without hesitation, and gymnasts. Also, great writing. That's where Toole comes in--maybe someday I can I try and write something as good (and as complicated and clever) as A Confederacy of Dunces, but Tulane has a lot of work to do in not a lot of time to make that happen. I think my biggest obstacle is the sheer volume of new words I would have to become comfortable enough with to use in a comprehensive sentence. Is that going to happen overnight? The short answer is no. The long answer involves discussing the various merits of listening to vocab tapes while you sleep.
I have been known to make up words though--actually, this is not true. I thought I invented words but it turns out that I've heard the words before and they then just resurface years later. Today I realized that a book I read when I was in the 7th grade used the exclamation cripes!, which I said constantly all last summer. That's at least 6 years later. Cripes.
Sidenote: Some people compete against other people--I find that my worthiest competitor is myself. I never know how I'm going to trick myself next. For someone who hates suspense, this can be very stressful.
Although I admire John Kennedy Toole immensely, and I'm a proud member of his alma mater, I think in the end I'd rather be like me than like him. That's not supposed to be a cute, sentimental statement. He ended up committing suicide and never saw A Confederacy win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. I'd like to be around for my glory.
*The Hullabaloo is named after our school's cheer. It is as follows: