One of these days when I finally retire the college will cancel classes so everyone can celebrate Bev Day, which will feature poetry slams, doggerel duels, and a massive all-campus Scrabble tournament followed by a cruise on the river with great food and speeches of appreciation from students I've inspired and colleagues I've mentored.
I'm dreaming, of course. For one thing, every time I pay a visit to the money in my retirement plan, it laughs a cruel laugh and says "dream on." For another, I stink at goodbyes and shrink from gratitude. Just yesterday, for instance, a student came to my office to thank me for all kinds of interesting things, but I just wanted to hide under my desk. I'm supposed to be the word expert, but put me in front of a beloved student at Commencement and all I can do is mutter cliches and make a quick escape.
And then I cry. It doesn't take much to move me to the edge of tears--a great line of poetry, a picture of my granddaugher, even a really well-made car commercial--but a room full of people trying to say "So long and thanks for all the fish" will reduce me to a blubbering moron with a face that looks like a raw, oozing wound.
So I sympathize with colleagues who resist the hoopla and just ease silently from the scene. I'd like to be able to just walk away and hope that I've left a mark, but it makes it hard on those left behind, who would really appreciate a chance to offer a final hurrah.
So here's my compromise position: when (if?) I finally retire, I'd like all the hoopla the college can muster, but I'd like to put on a Cloak of Invisibility so I can enjoy the fun without being noticed. I'll ask my colleagues over in Physics to get to work on that whole invisibility thing--surely they'll have time to perfect it by the time I can afford to retire.