Have You Thought of Dance? Or, in Memoriam: Gail Kelly
A famous Anthro teacher of my time, from my alma mater, Reed College, died, and I just found out about it. Her name was Gail Kelly, and she was a big deal in school, and, even though I never had her as a teacher, she is the coiner of one of my favorite phrases: “Have you thought of dance?” She said this to a friend of mine who failed her junior qualifying exam. Yes, at Reed (weed) you had to take a test just to choose a major. It sucked. Anyways we carried around this phrase and whipped it out whenever one of us goofed up, which happened regularly, and felt the kind of stinging dismissal and un-PCness of it, as well as the harshness, the lack of understanding, the fake sympathy, all rolled into a nice cheese log you could cut into and enjoy. Ha ving come dangerously close to failing my junior qualifying exam in the easiest major in college, English, I felt pretty happy about the dance quote and probably threw it around more than anyone else. I still remember staring at the painting of Icarus, reading the poem about Icarus, and drawing absolutely no connections whatsoever. The sheer panic of an English major with nothing to say.
So it’s become this big kind of deal with the alumni crowd because our magazine wrote a not-so-flattering obit about her in the recent rag. It was a chopped up version of this very comprehensive pro-and-con post by what seems an active anthropologist and ex-student of hers’ blog. Ah Reedies still processing their failures, successes, and conference dynamics. I am sure I was in class with Alex Golub but all of the drinking and late nights playing pool have erased any memory of him/her.
Rest in peace, Gail. But wait, I’m wondering, have you thought of dance?