Visions of Marsha's faithlessness haunted him. Daytime fantasies of sexual abandon permeated his thoughts. And the thing was they wouldn't really understand how she really was. He, Waldo alone, understood this.Lacking good communication on her end, he decides to pack himself up in a cardboard box and ship himself to her because "he had made her smile, and she needed him." The box arrives as she's with a friend discussing her casual exploits with another guy the night before. Waldo's quivering with excitement inside the box, but Marsha's just pissed off that she's having trouble opening it. She goes for a box cutter, which her friend, Sheila, then stabs
through the middle of the package, through the middle of the masking tape, through the cardboard through the cushioning and (thud) right through Waldo Jeffers' head, which split slightly and caused little rhythmic arcs of red to pulsate gently in the morning sun.Poor Waldo (complete lyrics here). When we used to play this song, taking perverse and angry pleasure in it, I used to think it was just a form of venting over our collective romantic failures.
But we were also grad students and adjuncts, some of us many years into an entanglement with academe that some have already described as a bad relationship -- you know, abandoning yourself to an abusive partner who doesn't give a shit about you but whom you've convinced yourself you love no matter what, for whom you would move across the country despite their infidelity, for whom you would sacrifice your well-being and your rage at their exploits just so that they might let you stay a little longer.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Not altogether unlike the advice Tenured Radical offered up yesterday and today that launched a $hitstorm of righteous rage from commenters.
Hmmm. Imagine telling Waldo to "get a grip"! True, Waldo's a dumb schmuck and could use some sensible advice, but if you've spent any serious time on the adjunct track recently, as I have, you know where Waldo's coming from. You've been there. And TR's advice ain't the advice he needs -- or that we need, as deceptively sensible as it may sound (indeed, did sound even to me at first) on the surface.
Anger. Cultivate it. Nurse it like a good whiskey ('cuz you won't be buying any of that except on credit).
And get out while you can, friends, because once you pack yourself up in that box, you're depending on other people -- people who don't care about you, who hold you in contempt, who don't appreciate what you unwillingly do to enable their privilege because you feel you have no other choice in the pursuit of a career you imagined would be more than just a job -- you are depending on them to set you free.
They don't love you, not any more than Marsha loved Waldo. And they'd just as soon stab you in the head, too, even if they didn't realize quite what they were doing.
Here's the song. Sorry no video -- none of the live performances I could find sounded as good as this version (turn it up nice 'n loud):