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Old That Guy Unmasks New That Guy

This is my final column as That Guy. This fills me with great sadness, but I know that I must make way for the younger generation, with their bustling energy and superior hand-eye coordination. Full of anxiety about my return to normality, I sought advice from the previous That Guy, Jordan Burton (spring ’03).

I was able to reach Burton in his Olympic-size soaking tub in Alewife. He agreed to a phone interview so long as we conducted it in Esperanto. The following is an English translation of that conversation.

New That Guy (NTG):
Jordan Burton, you were the first That Guy, the Founding Father of the genre. How did it feel to inaugurate a completely new form of communication?

Old That Guy (OTG):
I’m not sure about that Founding Father thing-don’t you know your That Guy history, That Guy? It was actually Allen Narcisse’s idea (former Editor of the HARBUS, and all-around rock star). He asked me to come up with a pseudonym and write an anonymous weekly humor article, and I said no. Then one morning he killed my prized pet llama and put the severed head in my bed. He asked me again the next day, and it sounded like a really great idea, so I said yes.

As far as the feeling goes, it really was an exciting and rewarding experience. Every week I got a chance, in Allen’s words, “to coalesce the deepest opinions and feelings of the Class of 2004.” So basically I just got to make fun of Section I a lot, which was pretty sweet.

NTG:
So, what was your creative process as That Guy last year? I have heard that it was quite elaborate.

OTG:
I must admit it was hard keeping the article fresh and funny every week. I tried all sorts of alternative, homeopathic inspirational techniques. First it was simple meditation, then auto-erotic acupuncture, then a form of Mayan yoga involving chimpanzees and jumper cables. I threw out my back on that last one, so I decided just to keep focusing on Section I, and the articles just basically wrote themselves.

OK, now I’ve got a question for you, New That Guy. When I first approached you about being this term’s That Guy, did you have any concerns or apprehensions (other than the obvious risk that everyone might think you sucked and weren’t funny at all, forever tarnishing friendships, potential sexual relationships and job opportunities)?

NTG:
One big apprehension I had was that I’d have to start reading the HARBUS.

OTG:
Yeah, that concerned me too.

NTG:
It’s not so bad, if you don’t mind reading a lot of purple prose about intramural soccer. On to the next question: Discuss the following: “Every rose has its thorn / Just like every night has its dawn.”

OTG:
Great song!! Poison rocked. I loved that stuff when I was in junior high back in Texas. I used to sit in my room at home daydreaming and listening to music like that. Lots of daydreaming….I remember I would pretend I was a huge robot that could crush all those jocks who made fun of me at school. They’d scream “No, Mr. Jordan robot!! Please don’t crush me!!” and I’d say “Who’s the pansy now, you worthless jock loser!” and then I would crush them anyway. Sometimes I would imagine that I stepped on their heads and their little jock pea-brains would squirt out, and their hot cheerleader girlfriends would realize that I was really cool and their boyfriends were just squished jock losers with pea brains. Wait-what was the question again?

NTG:
The Mr. Jordan Robot thing reminds me of something. … Did you know that your name is an anagram for “Run to Dr. Banjo”?

OTG:
That’s awesome. That could be a lead candidate for my next tattoo.
I’ve got another question for you, New That Guy. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take ONE marsupial, ONE fascist dictator, and ONE brand of gelatin dessert with you, which would you choose?

NTG:
Does Salma Hayek count as any of those? Maybe she has a pouch.

OTG:
I think her plastic surgeon may be working on that. So she’s your marsupial? What about the friendly wombat? Wait-stick with Selma. My bad.

NTG:
Here’s something I’ve been struggling with, Old That Guy-maybe you can help me think through it: Would you rather be stuck in a teepee for eternity with Walter Cronkite (but only his torso) or the entire cast of Full House?

OTG:
Before I answer your teepee question, I must qualify my response. If an igloo counts as a teepee, then I would definitely vote for Cronkite’s torso, because I could take him outside and slide him around on the ice like those crazy Canadians who do that curling thing. Otherwise, I would vote for the Full House cast. That Bob Saget is one gifted comedian. I’m sure he would keep life interesting in the teepee, pointing out all the funny things that happened like he did on America’s Funniest Home Videos. What a funny, funny man.

NTG:
He definitely has the gift of laughter. Speaking of which, I have come to you for advice. As the outgoing That Guy, I am concerned about transitioning back to normal life. When you gave up your anonymity, how did your life change? Was it hard making the readjustment?

OTG:
For me, the transition was especially difficult. In a way, it was a “VH1 Behind The Music” kinda thing. During my brief period of stardom, I spent my days partying with Hef in LA and hitting all the Boston-area A-list events (I was even on the “super-double-secret VIP list” for the STARS party). But when the parties died down, I ended up spending most of my time with my new friend Jack Daniels, if you know what I mean. But after a failed attempt to woo three different Section A girls (they all claimed they had just gotten engaged, if you can believe that crap), I dropped the Jack Daniels and switched to my other friend, ACME Airplane Glue. Then I moved on to snorting Equal, doing shots of battery acid, and then just beating myself over the head with a crowbar. I guess I knew I had really hit rock bottom when I found myself sitting in my room, day after day, just re-forwarding old Canadian Club emails to myself.

NTG:
So what you’re saying is, “Backstage, things were crumbling.”

OTG:
Pretty much, though there wasn’t really a stage. Just a laptop and a crowbar.

NTG:
So, next semester there is going to be a new and vastly inferior That Guy. What advice can you offer him or her?

OTG:
I guess I would start by telling him / her not to make it about the money-stay true to the spirit of the article, and let the money take care of itself.

NTG:
Amen. I would also say, “Hey, keep it real.” It’s hard, with all this prestige and power, to lose track of who you are. The Brand Of You can become cloudy. Sometimes you’ve gotta get back to the streets of Greenwich and re-connect with your roots, you know? Just hang out and polish some silver, that kind of thing.

OTG:
True dat. Sounds like you’ve got some good advice as well. What other advice would you give him / her, New That Guy?

NTG:
I guess I would say that my one regret is not making fun of international students more often.

OTG:
Yes, they are an endless source of great material. Especially the ones who, you know, talk all funny.

NTG:
They don’t know English as well as we do! That is funny!!

OTG:
Like, they’ll be all “I would tell company to invest…” and we’re all “DUH, don’t you mean THE company??”

NTG:
Exactly. Like, come on, put down the Euros and learn some articles.

OTG:
By the way-you still haven’t given me your dictator or your brand of gelatin dessert! I have to know in case this ever actually happens to me.

NTG:
Dictator: Oprah. Gelatin: Is there more than one brand?

OTG:
My vote on that one would be for Jello. It’s head and shoulders above the rest. OK, New That Guy. For the grand finale, would you like to share with us your secret identity?

NTG:
I can’t tell you that. I’m anonymous.

OTG:
But that’s the whole point of
this article.

NTG:
Oh. Then I guess I could tell you my Christian name.

OTG:
Go for it.

NTG:
It’s Li’l Dog.

OTG:
I knew it!! (Wait, of course I knew it.) Wow-I’ll bet the whole school is doing a classcard search right now to figure out what “Li’l Dog” means. Or at least the three RCs who actually read this thing.

By the way- nice job this semester. You have carried the torch well.

December 8, 2003
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