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Fables of Fair Harvard

The Catatonic Sloth

By Robert Ullmann

A mathematically brilliant but misguided sloth spent the junior year at Harvard in a continual stupor, under the influence of illegal substances and domestic beers. Ostensibly an Applied Math concentrator (though he never studied math nor concentrated), the sloth passed each day expounding on his life philosophy to curious passersby or the walls, as he watched his favorite T.V. game shows. So frazzled was his mind in fact, that he wrote the course numbers backwards on his study card, thus unwittingly enrolling in Adolescent Psychology and U.S. Fiscal Policy instead of his intended courses in advanced physics. But because he did not attend class, the sloth never learned of his errors.

By having schoolmates bring him his liquid diet in exchange for help with physics and philosophy assignments, the sloth survived an entire semester without leaving his chair, enduring but a single aggravation, when in mid-November an existential dilemma suddenly snapped him out of his lethargy.

"Who am I! Where am I going?" he asked himself. The questions kept him awake throughout the night until the morning sun appeared above the business school and brought a revelation.

"I am a sloth," the young sloth told himself. "I am therefore going nowhere." He then smoked some weed, gradually drifting back into a blissful trance.

At sunrise on the morning of his first exam, the sloth finally lifted himself from his chair and began to stumble northward toward Harvard Yard. He arrived there on time, but misread the location for Physics 907 on the exam schedule, unwittingly plopping himself down in the exam room for Adolescent Psych. Before a proctor could hand him a copy of the exam, the sloth was furiously scribbling quadratic equations into his blue book. But soon he lost patience, and digressed to a metaphysical discussion of his sexual malaise and acne problems.

On the following day, the sloth again misread the schedule and hobbled into the exam room for Fiscal Policy, where he yawned for two hours, scribbled "life is fair, do nothing" in his blue book, then fell onto the floor and crawled out of the room on all fours.

Through divine grace, and the bias of a libertarian Fiscal Policy professor who believed in strict laissez-faire government, the sloth received two A's, and went on to graduate with an honors degree in Social Studies.

Moral: Digression is the better part of valor.

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