The Butler does it one last time

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So here it is: The column I've thought about and dreaded this entire year. The coda to the four greatest years of my life, summarized in one final article. It's a tall order, considering the proud lineage of my U. News predecessors. How many talented men and women before me thought these same thoughts, wrote this same article, then boldly ventured into Destination Unknown with little more than a bachelor's degree and a prayer? Probably a lot, yet-competitor that I am-I want to do it better. But I can't.

Dozens of sleepless nights, lost in thought for this very occasion, and I've literally got nothing. No immediate job prospect, no profound wise words, nothing but an impending bachelor's degree and a prayer. Sometimes I wonder how much simpler my life could be right now if I had just cut my losses at SLU three years ago, after the "pre-med experiment," and transferred somewhere, anywhere else.

But then I wonder if I could live without the immense pride derived from being knocked on my ass three years ago and having the grit to rise for a second round. Like countless other college freshmen in the fall of 2001, failure smacked me square in the face. Unlike countless other college sophomores in the fall of 2002, I did not return to my hometown community college with my tail tucked between my legs. Whatever I amount to in life, I'll always have the sweet satisfaction of hard-earned success here at SLU.

I wonder if another campus employs such a vast collection of inspirational, memorable people. From Cliff and his gourmet quesadillas in Fusz Cafeteria, to Paul's impeccable music taste and custodial wizardry on the fifth floor of DeMatt, it is these unsung heroes who are the salt of West Pine Boulevard's verdant earth. You've offered sage advice, shared enumerable laughs and tolerated mountains of bulls–. People don't thank you enough for your jobs. So one last time, thanks.

I wonder if I would have studied under professors remotely as talented, caring and forgiving (surely some of you doubted that my family members always kicked the bucket when term papers were due) as the communication and English departments. Too many undergraduates view themselves as a walking Social Security number-not here. You never hesitated to congratulate me when I deserved it…or berate me when I deserved it more. Father Gary Seibert is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge and conspiracy theories, who may know Strunk and White's elements better than Hebrew and Jewish Scriptures. Attending his class is akin to watching three acclaimed one-man Broadway productions each week, so don't miss out.

Professor Avis Meyer-the man, the myth, the legend-changed my life overnight. Sitting down at the U. News copy desk that first time and watching him reign with an iron fist over the realm of split infinitives and dangling modifiers was one of the genuine epiphanies of my life. A lot of us have sat at that table looking for something, maybe just a place to spend time and socialize. I sat down in search of a purpose, and I found it about 20 minutes into a marathon monologue about "2001: A Space Odyssey." I'll be grateful the rest of my days.

I wonder if I would have found as many hot chicks to…nevermind, I probably would have. Let the record show, immortalized in print, that the Jonaconda, Don Jon de Butler, was a modern-day conquistador of love. When I finally graduate, the Missouri River will surely run a little higher than usual with the tears of my legion of ladies.

I wonder if I would have found a group of friends as insane, eclectic and steadfast as the rogues' gallery I've run with these last four years. We've fought over video games, women, cigarettes and more video games together, but we're still together to laugh about it now, and I'll laugh even harder when the recurring "Halo 2" dream pays a visit in 20 years. Someone much smarter than I am, once said that if a man has five true friends in his life, he's been blessed. I've doubled that already, and I pray my luck holds.

I wonder…no, nevermind…I know. I know that it's been one helluva ride here at Saint Louis University, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Seniors, I hope the years were just as kind to you. Everyone else, cherish the time you have left: This will be your story one day.

A.M.D.G.