Eight weeks ago, when Trop editor Tom Dibblee first told me about Trop’s Short Fake College or High School Class President Commencement Address contest, I was so excited that I dashed off to my study to dash off my entry, only to find that yes, this was a very strange and challenging prompt indeed.
I slaved over this address for eight weeks. My wastebasket overfloweth with reams of abandoned drafts, my wrists crippleth with carpal tunnel. This address became my white whale, or maybe my Moby-Dick, as at one point it clocked in at 635 pages. Then I remembered something about a word limit and pared it down to a ninety-page novella. Then I actually checked the word limit and pared it down to a thousand words. “Kill your darlings!” they say. Sometimes it feels like it’s either going to be them or me, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! We have fun, but truly, it has been a very trying eight weeks.
Finally, sweaty, haggard, and having found my first batch of gray hairs, I showed the address to Tom. His brow got all furrowed the way it does when he’s perplexed—he’s like a little Shar Pei who loves reading—and Tom informed me that not only had I misunderstood the prompt to an absurd degree, but I’ve been ineligible for the contest since last May, when I first contributed to Trop. Which seems borderline insane to me, that one can disqualify oneself from a contest nine months before its conception. “See if Roger [Sollenberger, Trop deputy editor] will run it in the Weather,” Tom said, handing my white Dick back to me.
Great. The Weather. Trop’s leftovers.
California dude-spewer that Tom is, he’s a paragon of professionalism compared to Roger, who all month has been in something he calls “Spring Break Mode,” which involves wearing a small pink (ladies?) tank top and traumatically revealing short-shorts and cheap gas station sunglasses and a sloppy white slathering of sunscreen on his nose, all of this always indoors, and doing “Quad Light Limes,” which is when Roger bongs four Bud Light Limes simultaneously and then, in lieu of swallowing, spits all forty-eight ounces into the face of whoever is closest to him, physically and figuratively.
Roger snatched the address from my hands and insisted that I “stay put” as he read it, shaking his head, saying, “What the fuck is this?” and then, “Are you kidding me?” and then, “Are you fucking kidding me?” and finally, “We’ll run it Friday.” Then he shoved the address back into my hands, the papers now slimy with suntan lotion, and barked at his girlfriend to set up another QLL. (True story: Roger once broke my thumb during a pickup basketball game, then told me that it never would’ve happened if my “bones weren’t such pussies.” To this day he calls me Pussybones.)
So here it is, I guess. The contest entry that wasn’t meant to be. I hope the past eight weeks were worth it.
Eight fucking weeks.
2013 Co-Mincemeat Address as Delivered by Mincemeat H.S. Class President Tommy Apricot
How’s it going, Class of ’13?! (Wild applause.)
We made it. Can you believe it? (Tamer applause.)
You know, I look out at this crowd today, and I don’t just see a bunch of dried fruits (scattered applause from the fruits) and spices (scattered applause from the spices) and distilled spirits (drunken applause from the spirits). I don’t just see Scooter, the nuttiest nutmeg this side of Mincerton. (“WOO!”—Scooter.) Ha-ha, Scooter. Man. Did you skate here, Scooter? (Scooter, in a Hawaiian tee, raises his longboard above his head and screams.) Man, gonna miss that guy. What hijinks.
I look out at this crowd and I don’t just see the apples. (Light boos; the teachers bristle.) Not gonna miss those apples. Always busting my ‘cots, these apples. Not to mention Principal Anderson, that wrinkled old prune. (Laughter.) Principal Anderson? More like Prunecipal Anderson. (More laughter; Principal Anderson throws his hands up, like, What can I do? I’m literally a prune.)
I don’t just see Scooter (“WOO!”—Scooter) and the apples (light boos) and Principal Anderson (mixed reaction), and I don’t just see my beautiful girlfriend Cinnamon there in the front row, who, no, contrary to the rumors, did not cheat on me with that pigheaded quarterback from the Meatville Mincers. (Heavy boos.) I know, right? As if. Also, while I have the podium, if I hear one more person say Cinnamon has a stripper name, I will make—well, I was going to say I’d make mincemeat out of them, but, you know. (Laughter.) Oldest joke in the book. I’m sorry. Cinnamon—I love you, babe. (Cinnamon blows a kiss.)
No, my fellow mincemeats, when I look out at you today I don’t just see a collection of disparate ingredients, which, yes, is admittedly a little confusing for the public at large, as there is no actual meat here at Mincemeat High. You’ll have to head down the road to Meatville if you want that kind of pie… But I wouldn’t recommend it. (Laughter, applause.)
I look out at you today, Fighting Filling (scattered cheers for mascot name), and you know what I see? Future pies, and future tarts— (light boos). Hey, none of that. There’s no shame in winding up in a tart. Tarts are a responsible choice. They’re no pies, of course—you don’t see them as often at parties—but let’s be honest, guys, mincemeat pies aren’t exactly best sellers, either. Not exactly on everyone’s To Eat list, the mincemeat pies. Not outside of the Northeast, anyway, or maybe England. (Scattered boos.) What’s wrong with England? The thing is—the coloring of the filling, that kind of dark brown, it doesn’t exactly water the mouth—and also the vagueness or inconsistency of the ingredients. A lot of people—I’ve heard this from several people—they don’t even know what mincemeat is. Some have meat (boos), some don’t (applause). If we’re being honest, just brutally honest with ourselves here, you ask a person what kind of pie they like, you’re liable to hear four or five—apple, pecan, pumpkin, cherry, key lime, etc.—before they even consider mincemeat, if they consider it at all. So let’s not be dicks about the future tarts, okay? None of us is exactly going to wind up a world-beater, dessert-wise.
Sorry. Where was I? (“Future pie!”) Right, thanks Scooter. I look out at you today, and I see future pies, and future tarts. And the thing about mincemeat pies and mincemeat tarts is, we can’t become them alone. It’s going to take all of us (scattered applause after most of the following)—the apricots, the pears, peaches, the figs, the dates, the cranberries, the apples (boos), the prunes (mixed reaction), the cinnamon (winks at Cinnamon), the nutmeg, the allspice, the sugar, the salt, and yes, the brandy (big applause)—all of us working together—well not so much working together as sort of smooshed together, crammed into a pastry, and then baked (“WOO!”—Scooter)—ha-ha, not that kind of baked, Scooter; love the enthusiasm, buddy—but all of us united to fulfill our destinies. In short, my fellow mincemeats: we can’t do it alone.
My fellow mincemeats, look out into the bleachers today. You know what you don’t see? Your parents. You know why? Because they fulfilled their destinies. Is there something scary about our destiny being to be smooshed together, crammed into a pastry, baked, and eaten? Yes. There is something undeniably horrifying and weird about that, and about God or Whatever giving us sentience, the capacity to feel, and speak, etc., when what’s going to happen is, someone is going to smoosh us together, cram us into a pastry, bake us, and eat us. But as horrifying and weird as it is, ours is a noble destiny.
Think of the family in Pennsylvania that’s just finished Christmas dinner, and needs something, anything sweet to distract from the bitter, inflammatory ramblings of Great Aunt Nancy, who, at ninety-nine, seems to grow more racist with age. Or the romantic young Brit (scattered boos)—guys, seriously, the Revolutionary War was like 250 years ago. Let it go. Think of the romantic young Brit who wants to impress his feelings upon his love but possesses neither the literary capacity to put them into words nor the requisite musical breadth of knowledge to make her a decent mix CD. What recourse does he have? Flowers, yes. But also: mincemeat. Maybe even a tart, as the romantic young Brit—being young and seemingly a man of few talents—is likely low on cash.
Death comes to us all—not just mincemeats, but people, animals, TV shows starring Christian Slater. But how many can say that, in death, they improved the lives of others? Certainly Christian Slater won’t be able to say this, unless he is an organ donor, but only what, ten percent of people are? Something tells me Slater is not an organ donor. Point being: our horrifying and weird fate is also delicious and filling. People will remember us, not individually, as fruits or spices or spirits, but together, as pies, tarts, or some other weird form of pastry with which I’m unfamiliar.
My fellow mincemeats: high school was the main course. Now it is time for dessert.
Evan Allgood's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Millions, LA Review of Books, The Toast, and The Billfold. He lives in Brooklyn and contributes regularly to Paste. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.