WILSON: Ingmar and the academic
It goes without saying (which is the best reason for saying it), Hannibal King was an educated man. He had multiple degrees in a vast array of subject matter, allowing him to know things that many people didn’t even know could be known.
But, Hannibal was not the only well-educated person hanging out at the Center of the Universe. Ingmar Norska, a Norwegian travel agent (specializing in the exclusive two week Scandinavian summer season), endangered Viking, and nearly reformed scoundrel, enjoyed walking right up to, but never quite crossing over into, Academia. On one hand, he read “Beowulf” in Old English. On the other hand, he often fell afoul of the law for heinous crimes such as failure to license his dog, jay walking, and expressing conservative opinions on Facebook.
It was under these circumstances that Hannibal King first met Ingmar. Due to his community service sentencing requirements (for attracting attention in an unattractive way), Ingmar found himself standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Hannibal, serving nearly edible mashed potatoes at the St. Mia Farrow Shelter for Starving Artists and Underemployed Academics. Hannibal was the Primary Hash-Slinger Volunteer at the Shelter and Ingmar was his sole “Adjudicated Volunteer.”
“You seem to be someone that knows a bit about some things,” Hannibal, matter-of-factly, commented to Ingmar. “Where did you go to college?”
Not to be over “matter-of-facted,” Ingmar yawned and plopped a half-ladle-full of soupy potatoes on the awaiting plate of a down and out artist. He scratched behind his left ear, and mumbled in his best ‘I don’t give a flyin’ flip’ tone, “I have an AAS from Southwestern, a BS from Northwestern, a BLT from Western, and a PhD. in Cognitive Confusion from the Douglass Adams School of Deep Thought.”
“Deep Thought!” exclaimed Hannibal. “I attended Deep Thought! Which class were you?”
“First. How about you?”
Jubilant at meeting a fellow DT alum, Hannibal shouted out the old school cheer, “Go 42,” while twirling a towel around his head (for safety reasons, of course). “What were your favorite subjects?”
Ingmar’s initial reaction was to say, “Serfs and peasants.” Instead, he responded with, “The Study of Redundant Studies.”
“Great course. I took it twice,” replied Hannibal. “Did you have Disassociation Networking? I thought it strained the Laws of Physics.”
“I think Firesign Theater asked it best,” rejoined Ingmar, “‘How can you be in two places at once, when you are nowhere at all?’”
“How about Unravelling String Theory?” Hannibal asked. “When I went there, Morton Sault taught that course. I couldn’t wrap my arms around the space-time continuum.”
“That was a tough one for me, too,” Ingmar agreed. “Eventually, I just tied a knot in it and called it quits.”
“Suspended Gravitational Belief?”
“I floated right through that one.” Ingmar admitted. “Non-Motivational Speaking?”
“I didn’t get a thing out of that course. I might have, but I just wasn’t feeling it.” Hannibal also acknowledged his education imperfections. “Inconsequential Math?”
“I didn’t take that one. I wanted to, but my advisor told me I would never use it — except at tax time.”
From this shared intellectual background, Hannibal and Ingmar forged a very needy, symbiotic relationship. Hannibal would pompously share all that he knew and Ingmar would nonchalantly comment, “The only thing you don’t know is the extent of what you don’t know.”
I’ve heard that’s what makes for good drinking buddies.
Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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