Misery Poker Blues, Deer Dilemmas, and Parrish Parlour Etiquette

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

All you Swatties have some serious issues. You feel the need to “dialogue” about all of their concerns and questions. That’s where I come in. I, the Duchess of Swarthmore, Esq., PhD, OB/Gyn, am here to take your burning questions and anxieties and, using my specialized expertise, steer you in the right direction.

To the Duchess of Swarthmore, Esq., PhD, OB/Gyn,

I have a problem. A gambling problem. Misery Poker. Too often, I find myself comparing hours slept, pages left to read or papers to write. The problem is, I never seem to win, and it’s bringing me down. I feel like I don’t fit in, and losing makes me even more miserable. What do I do?

– Called My Bluff


Here’s the best solution to your problems: only play with people younger than you. If they even try to engage you in misery poker, you could play, and probably win, or, interrupt them and and say something to the effect of: “Listen. You’re a (insert year here). I have to worry about (insert something that does not happen/matter until your current year, e.g. sophomore paper, honors seminar, thesis, job search). So don’t even talk to me about your paper about squirrels or whatever you kids are writing about these days.” And then walk away mumbling about spending the night in McCabe.

Of course, if you’re losing because you don’t actually do anything difficult, stop whining about nothing and actually do stuff that makes your life miserable. Next time you register for courses, pick hard ones, because let me tell you, if you try to complain about work at the same time that you are taking Foundation Art or Astro 1, everyone will hate you. A lot. Pick something like the class on War and Peace (or, in some opinions, the Jane Austen seminar). The words “double credit seminar” are always worth something. Better yet, start writing a thesis.

If all else fails, fake it. Check a book out of the library on Foucault or Derrida, or the complete works of Percy Shelley (for the automatic win, pick up a Romanticism anthology; 3 inches thick and guaranteed to solicit a response of “that’s just awful”). Buy some dark eyeshadow and brush it ever so carefully under your eyes for that “I haven’t slept more than 3 hours all week” look that all the supermodels are sporting these days. Start talking into bananas in the middle of Sharples.

– The Duchess of Swarthmore, Esq., PhD, OB/Gyn

illustrations by Allison McCarthy

To the Duchess of Swarthmore, Esq., PhD, OB/Gyn,

I am upset about the deer cull. I thought Swarthmore cared about the value of all life? What can I do to make a difference?

– Deerly Distraught


Here’s what you can do to make a difference. Stop wanting to make a difference so badly that you lose sight of what’s actually good.

If you feel bad about the deer cull, you obviously hate deer (and the planet for that matter). You go to Swarthmore. Use the brain that got you in here and think about a simple ecosystem for one second. Picture in your head a deer population becoming massive. Now, class, what will happen to the things that massive amount of deer eats? That’s right, it will all be eaten, too fast for it to rejuvenate itself. Plants, particularly native species, will die. I hope, for the sake of the integrity of this institution, that I don’t have to go into the specifics of why that is bad.

You think that deer are sweet and beautiful and shouldn’t be killed ever. Well, how will you feel when Chronic Wasting Disease hits and causes huge numbers of deer to suffer and die horrible deaths? If you looked at the link, you’re probably crying right now, DD.

The long and short of it is, things need to die. It’s how the world works. And if you (and others) continue this ridiculous mission to save every deer from ever dying, there are a few people on campus who would take pleasure in giving you the Jack Woltz treatment and leaving a severed deer head in your bed.

Think before you argue. And stop trying to save the world so badly that you end up killing it.

Happy hunting!

– The Duchess of Swarthmore, Esq., PhD, OB/Gyn

To the Duchess of Swarthmore, Esq., PhD, OB/Gyn,

I’m an aspiring pianist. Do you have any suggestions for songs to play in Parrish Parlours?

– Public Entertainment

Dear PE,

I’ll try to keep this brief. The term “aspiring pianist” means that you really have very little idea what you are doing, right? In that case, the best song you can play for us is a nice, unobtrusive little piece I know. You may have heard it, it’s by Chopin. It’s called NOTHING.

There are only 2 circumstances under which that piano should even be touched. 1) If you are really freaking good, and you know a very quiet, subdued piece from memory, and there are few people around, it is acceptable to play. And 2), if there is a reception in the Parlours, you may put your plate of semi-decent cheeses and fruits down on top of it.

Why there is even a piano in that room to begin with is beyond me. People study in there. People hold meetings in there. People take naps on the couches. When some hack comes in and disturbs the peace and quiet by playing some off-key, mistake-ridden piece over and over and over again – which is what the piano is used for ninety-nine percent of the time – I (and almost everybody else in the vicinity) want to get up and slam the lid down on that person’s fingers (or worse).

I speak for all of the students whose eyes roll with disgust every time those far-from-dulcet tones assault their eardrums, who hiss “come on“ when the first notes are sounded, who are too damn polite to ever say anything to that person they so badly want to disfigure.


– The Duchess of Swarthmore, Esq., PhD, OB/Gyn

Got any burning issues that you need answered by someone who obviously knows best (if only by his/her/hir’s prodigious amount of honorifics)? Write to the Duchess of Swarthmore, Esq., PhD, OB/Gyn at issues@daily.swarthmore.edu!

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