Aug 9, 2009

Fuck 'em if They Can't Take a Joke

Back when I was doing the film school thing, I once violated their smoking policy (actually I violated it a lot, but I only got caught the one time). My punishment was to write a 750 word essay on the history of the UNC smoking policy. I didn't do it, of course, and the whole thing seemed to have blown over. Just recently, however, I got a letter saying there was a "Judicial Hold" on my account, and I would have to turn in the essay if I wanted the hold lifted. I said to myself "Self, if they want an essay, you give 'em an essay, and fuck 'em if they can't take a joke." Here's what I turned in:

The Truth is Out There: A Cautionary Tale Regarding

the Somewhat Illustrious History of the UNC Smoking Policy

As a former constituent of the UNC school system, the subject of its policies regarding prohibition of recreational substances has long held a great deal of mystery and wonder for me. From my humble, apathetic beginnings as a tiny spore on the ubiquitous creeping fungus that is the American public school system, to my now lofty position as a slightly larger spore on a slightly larger fungus, I have grown increasingly interested in the undeniable trend of ruthless rule-mongering that seems to plague the system’s many institutions. Thus, I decided to delve deeper into the often enigmatic history thereof; specifically, that of its ideology concerning the consumption of cigarettes.

Initially, my search proved fruitless. My first thought was that perhaps I should consult God. I have always been taught by many of my elders that He in His divine and infinite wisdom would always provide me the answers I so desperately sought. Almost immediately however, I banished that thought from my head because He obviously does not exist, and therefore would bring me no closer to any logical conclusion. A longtime personal mentor told me to “Just ask the Axis (He knows everything).” I tried the Axis, who turned out to have no concern whatsoever for what he referred to as “Stupid bullshit.” I was beginning to get discouraged when my mother, in her legitimately infinite wisdom sent me to that universally worshipped oracle of all arcane and sacred knowledge: the internet. I returned to the search with newfound vigor, only to re-learn the ever persistent fact that Google is a cruel mistress, and could provide no enlightening insight on the elusive knowledge I desired.

It was at this point I began to ask myself “Why?” I found it hard to believe that even the likes of Google would be stumped on the subject. After all, it was not as if the history of the UNC smoking policy was an obscure or meaningless topic that no one in their right mind would bother to record, no sir. It became increasingly clear that there was an elaborate cover-up operation in effect; a conspiracy that reached all the way to the upper echelons of the Department of Education itself. I did not want to believe it, but I saw no other alternative.

I then turned to my trusted contacts in Washington D.C., an elite group of hackers and political investigators dedicated to uncovering many such conspiracies, exposing them for the scandals they are. When I arrived at their headquarters (a silver bullet trailer, the exact location of which I am not at liberty to disclose), I found them all brutally murdered, their trailer ransacked and conspicuously devoid of any useful evidence. As the thrill of the hunt further solidified itself, a very real fear for my own life and the lives of my loved ones began to sink in. Fear not though, dear reader, for it served only to breathe more life into my never-ending quest for the truth.

As I left Washington, I received a call on my cell phone from an untraceable number. I can say with absolute certainty that I will never forget my anonymous messenger’s voice, for it chilled me to my very core. The raspy countenance of a man known only as “Rusty Trombone”, arranged for us to meet on a remote mountaintop just outside the pleasant suburbs of Geneva, Switzerland. I returned home, eager to finally use my stolen Apache Longbow helicopter for such a purpose, as I had always wanted to.

I met the mysterious Mr. Trombone at precisely 10:13 AM, as per his request. There, he informed me (as informants often do) that not only was I right to trust my intuition that there was a conspiracy afoot, but that it reached much farther than I could possibly have imagined. In fact, this particular conspiracy had its dirty little fingers dipped into the sacred institution of time itself. That’s right, dear reader. I didn’t believe it myself, but there I was, atop a remote Swiss mountain, being told by a man named Rusty Trombone that everything I thought I knew about the sanctity of space and time was wrong. I had no choice but to believe him.

As it turns out, in the year 2094 a man named Jekyll Pantsfolds was appointed supreme chairman of world education. He had a rare form of lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke which he contracted while walking in the courtyard of one of the residence halls of the 2094 version of UNCSA (the A standing for “Arms Research”, as art was abolished in 2012). Being that he was an obnoxious politician, he got a wild hair to go back in time to the century we know and love today, and institute a set of rules which prohibit the consumption of cigarettes outside of certain designated smoking areas.

Jekyll Pantsfolds dies in January 2098 from a burst brain aneurism due to straining too hard on a White House toilet. Turns out we all have him to thank for the unreasonable prohibitions on UNC campuses in our own century. Pray no one has gone back through some wormhole to fiddle with your freedom in other areas. Not that there’s anything you can do about it in your own time, but you have been warned, dear reader. Then again, it’s all just bricks in the wall, as they say.

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