I Know How Much it Costs to Hear the Caged Bird Sing

“Just think about it,” I would tell them with as straight a face as I could muster, “next Tuesday the Royal Shakespeare Company will be on campus to give their rendition of King Lear.” I left time for that news to sink in, and then added: “I’m told that their production is absolutely world class.” Then I would thicken the plot by adding that this is not the only cultural event scheduled for next Tuesday. “It turns out, on the same evening, there also will be a performance by a man who, I am told, can fart the ‘Star Spangled Banner.'”

This announcement would invariably get the attention from a students sitting in the back row and wearing his baseball cap backwards: “He can really fart ‘The Star Spangled Banner’?”

“That’s what I’m told,” I would earnestly reply.

“Wow, I sure don’t want to miss that! And I’m going to bring my fraternity brothers too!”

“I’m quite sure you are,” I would say, taking careful note of those students who were in on the joke (they would invariably get A’s ten weeks later; and, those yahoos who nodded their agreement would invariably get C’s and D’s). —Sanford PinskerI Know How Much it Costs to Hear the Caged Bird Sing (The Irascible Professor)

A sad anecdote from the celebrity author scene:

Not surprisingly, Ms. Angelou packed the hall, but she made it clear that she was not about to meet with English classes before her reading nor would she attend a reception held in her honor by the Black Students Union after it. As a member of her entourage put it, neither event was stipulated in the contract.