Jan 17, 2020

A Dude at Oxford

By Ed Goldman

It’s being reported that England’s University of Oxford, whose first classes date all the way back to 1096, may establish a satellite campus in Northern California’s Marin County, whose first Jacuzzis® date all the way back to 1968.

Oxford is famous for educating thousands of British prime ministers, many of whom didn’t mispronounce French words or insist that cross-dressing made for major laughs at retirement parties. 

Marin County, of course, is widely celebrated for excessive Pinot Noir consumption and the non-vaccination of its children, which authorities maintain are not necessarily related. 

England’s babies wear nappies and Marin’s babies wear out nannies.  

Should the alliance take place—Oxford would take over a onetime seminary in the Strawberry Hill area of Marin County—I believe people from both sides of the pond may be in for some culture shock. Some expected developments:

“Old chap” will replace “Yo, dude” as a casual, on-campus salutation.

England’s babies wear nappies and Marin’s babies wear out nannies. 

An invitation to a “hot cup of tea” will supplant “a hot tub for three.”

In scholarly discourse at the faculty club, “green peas” may supersede Green Peace as a topic. (Don’t get me started on “mushy” as a descriptor.)

September courses will be offered in what the catalogue will describe as “the fall of the Empire.”  

Student dental care will be discontinued, from disuse.

Such British locutions as “snogging” (necking) and “shagging” (more than necking) will compete with California expressions such as “lip-locking” and $%#@*&!!ing (more than lip-locking).

Ultra-Violent Cricket will be more popular than Extreme Frisbee, only one of which (the latter) is a real thing—and just as dumb as it sounds. No game in which golden retrievers share equal billing with human players can be taken seriously (though who can resist the thrill of being called a “good boy” after a well executed play?).

“Teatime” will no longer mean when you start your golf game—unless you like hitting the links at 4:30 p.m. with a bellyful of scones and jam.

British students will be thrilled to hear of an upcoming martial music concert—until they discover it’s actually the reconstituted Marshall Tucker Band that’s been signed to perform its “southern rock” sound, alleged to include a cicada on a body mic. (Chief complaint from the Brits: “Using a cicada just isn’t cricket.”) 

Marin students will be appalled to learn that their drama department will stage productions of Noel Coward’s “Design for Living” and William Shakespeare’s “Othello” until a helpful intermediary sends out a notice describing the plays like so: 

“’Design for Living’ is really just about a chick who can’t decide between two dudes so ends up living with both of them. Recommended as a very cool first date. (Hint: Bring a friend.)”

“Othello’ centers on a black man suspecting his white wife of cheating on him when a handkerchief he gives her winds up in another man’s possession. Put another way, he thinks a honky has been honking in his wife’s hankie.”

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).