Joyland

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A Few Words on the Lack of Donuts

by Stephan Eirik Clark

Dear Class,

You have no doubt noticed by now that there are no donuts on the workshop table. This being the last class of the semester, that is perhaps a disappointment to some of you, and justifiably so.

As your instructor, I can say you have performed admirably well these last fourteen weeks. You have read all of the assigned stories and come to class willing to discuss them. Even when you have not been so prepared, you have admitted as much openly, rather than saying things like, "Well, I didn't read the story, but judging from the part you just read aloud, it reminds me a little bit of this scene in Game of Thrones." No, you have not acted like dilettantes. You have been adults, showing responsibility and care, and as a result the mood around the workshop table has always been pleasant.

Have any intra-workshop romances developed? If so, I can only imagine you remain in the honeymoon stage, because never have I sensed a tense and divided atmosphere. But perhaps I am wrong and one or more among you have been treated badly or even betrayed. I've been known to misinterpret things in the past, so if that is the case, let me say to the person who was done wrong, who was perhaps even humiliated, that one day you will see you were given a rare gift, for it is only through pain and suffering that we learn life's most memorable lessons. That said, if you were the one dumped, you, more than anyone else here tonight, would be doubly justified to think the lack of donuts is entirely inexcusable. After all, as you will remember from our reading, eating is a small good thing at a time like this.

But you must understand: I planned to bring donuts. I bought a Groupon for $25 worth of baked goods at Mojo Monkey Donuts in St. Paul. I can show you the voucher on my phone. It's still there, unused. Not that I meant for it to remain like that. I thought I'd enter class tonight carrying a bright pink box over one shoulder, then stand back as you pulled open the lid and let that sweet sugary smell spill out. I could imagine the joy on your faces as you stuffed your mouths with deep-fried goodness. It was going to be a moment of true connection and happiness. It was going to be sublime.

But, and excuse my use of technical jargon, the motherfuckers weren't open this morning. It's the truth. I went there after taking my kid to the dentist (no cavities! I was going to splurge!) and then I saw the sign: Closed Mondays. This isn't what the website had led me to believe. When I bought the Groupon, I hit the link and checked their hours just to be sure -- and sure enough, they'd be open today. Even the brightly painted sign on the shop's front window seemed to attest to this fact: "Handcrafted Donuts," it read, "Made Fresh Daily." Daily. You're wordsmiths. English majors. I don't need to explain this to you. “Daily” includes Mondays, and for good reason -- Monday is the worst day of the week, the day when we need donuts more than any other. Who needs a Bismarck or a cinnamon-sugar cruller on a Friday? But apparently the shop doesn't understand that a story will fall apart without unity of effect, because a second handwritten sign announced new hours -- so new, in fact, that they're not even on their website.

What could I do? I drove away, donutless, and wrote an email to Groupon's customer support department, asking for my money back. They didn't understand. I'm not sure they even read what I wrote. The store is permanently closed? What telephone number did you use? What does it matter what phone number they've got? There was no one there to answer! Just give me my money!

I suppose I could have bought a box of donuts at the SuperAmerica down the street. But you have to understand: these were going to be Mojo Monkey donuts. Gourmet donuts. Donuts made by bearded hipsters who believe a simple donut will not do. Bacon is often involved. These are serious donuts, I'm saying, and you were going to love them, so was I supposed to substitute some crap gas station fare for that and expect to still feel your love? I'm untenured, I should remind you. I need good student evaluations. I'm not saying these gourmet donuts were meant to be payment of any kind, a sort of quid pro quo. It wasn't like that, really. But if I gave you deep fried day-old donuts from a gas station no less interested in selling its customers prophylactics and motor oil, wouldn't that have colored your opinion of me? Perhaps led to one bad evaluation or two? I didn't want to risk it, I couldn't (did I say I have a young child?) so I drove away and there are no donuts on the table tonight, and for that I apologize, I do.

But really, would you have even liked them? Among the twelve of you here tonight, no doubt two are vegans and another only eats gluten-free and yet one more won't touch dairy. Maybe the one of you who's on the Paleo diet would've managed to snatch the piece of bacon off the top of the maple bar, and perhaps the dairy-free writer would've accepted an eclair that had had its cream sucked out (if he or she hadn’t been dumped, and his significant other was a willing partner). But even so I don't think any of you would've been too impressed unless I had brought in donuts and gluten-free crackers and vegan cheese and maybe a nice cut of roasted mastodon. And even then I'm sure one of you would have had the temerity to ask, "Are the ingredients locally sourced?" So I don't know what you expected. I can only hope you take comfort in the fact that I didn't get any donuts either. I didn't even eat dinner. All I have for you is the cold, unraised truth.

Sincerely,

Your Instructor