Loosening his blue-and-yellow diamond-patterned necktie and easing comfortably into his leather wingback armchair, UR President Joel Seligman was shaken out of his brief pre-Convocation respite by the realization that he had forgotten to compose his speech.

Seligman groaned, digging the bases of his palms into his temples. He glanced at his watch: 20 minutes until Convocation. He produced a pen from behind his ear and drummed it on the desk, trying to think of something to say.

“What am I so worried about?” Seligman chuckled. “I just have to sprinkle in a few meliorae—they’ll eat that up.” Three minutes later, he had managed only to come up with a paragraph consisting of three nouns, four verbs, two conjunctions, two instances of his own name and 63 instances of “meliora.”

After a few more fruitless minutes, Seligman slunk out of his office to see if he had loaned out his copy of “101 Flubs, Gaffes, and Gaucheries.” To his dismay, no one had seen it. He was, however, able to gather dog-eared copies of “Blunders to Make Your Mother Blush” and “To Err Rhetorical.”

With a mere 10 minutes left, Seligman decided that, as long as he had a trite phrase around which he could organize his entire speech, the whole affair would be remembered more-or-less fondly—or, ideally, forgotten. His eyes searched the room as he racked his brain for a slick line.

“‘Here at UR, we enroll the very best…’ yeah, that’s decent,” he mused, “but how should I end it?” A few minutes later, he threw his opus on the floor. Tears of rage welled up in the corners of his eyes. He fell to his knees and wrung his hands above his head, gazing upward, gasping. He had been unable to arrive at a suitable rhyme for “best.”

“Well, shoot,” Seligman muttered, wiping his runny nose on his sleeve and hoisting himself up off the floor. “Maybe I can just use last year’s.”

A cacophony ensued. Papers were rifled. Desk drawers were slammed. An emphatic “Gotcha!” was followed almost immediately by cursing and a mumbled “No, wait, I did that last year. They’d definitely notice it the third time.”

Seligman groaned and sank dejectedly into his chair. Only five minutes remained until he was expected among the dignitaries at the head of the Eastman Quad.

“What’s the use, anyway?” he pouted, crossing his arms on the edge of his desk and resting his head on them. “Half these people aren’t paying attention, or else they’re asleep. I’ll just make it up as I go.”

With two minutes left, Seligman’s mood took an upturn after he found a 1986 Admissions brochure replete with vintage UR puns. To ensure a smooth delivery, Seligman decided to read the pamphlet’s contents verbatim.

Seligman’s good mood soured when, upon ascending to the podium in front of Rush Rhees Library, he realized that he had not replaced the Class Roll parchment after using the original as a barbecue sauce napkin at a summer cookout for alumni.

Ransom is a member of the class of 2017.



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