When our communications director suggested that I “star” in a jesting video for an event celebrating the College’s 125th anniversary last spring, I was extremely apprehensive. As an undergraduate, I was without question the worst actor in a troupe that included a stray cat, blind in one eye.
I did not make a keepsake of the review that described my acting as “wooden,” but I well remember it. It should not have come as a surprise for a reserved, self-conscious English major, not given, in the end, to theatrics.
But “taking one for the team” is very much the theme when such requests come along, so there was really only one answer.
The theme of the video, which you can view below, is my education in the lore and culture of a small college with Scottish roots accompanied by our school mascot, Scotty. Wearing a kilt for the first time was, as it turned out, the least of my embarrassments in a script that called for me to ascend our climbing wall in my suit and try out for our nationally competitive Highland Dance team.
If there is one thing I do worse than act, it is dance. As we videotaped, I was so sufficiently lacking in talent that our accomplished Highland Dance instructor, herself an international talent with more than 80 championship titles, had to change the script. Instead of portraying my slow success in learning the form, she ended up kicking me out of class. The fact that our Annual Fund director, wearing a 50-pound costume, was a considerably better dancer than I, tells you all you need to know.
What any of this suggests for presidential decorum in this new age of ours, I cannot say. I rather doubt that Leon Botstein of Bard College feels compelled to accept invitations to engage in such hijinks. But what I lack in presidential gravitas, I hope to make up in enthusiasm and approachability.