Life During May Term

On Saturday morning my alma mater will be holding their commencement exercises, which means that Transy has just wrapped up its four-week May Term. When I was there, they tended to use it mainly to offer non-standard or special topics courses (and they may still): in my four years, I took classes covering short stories, compiler construction, environmental philosophy, and field work in archaeology. I enjoyed them all.

Though it wasn’t my experience, May Term generally had a reputation as a chance to kick back, take it easy, and party; its unofficial name was “Play Term.” That, and my growing appreciation for the Talking Heads, led me to compose a parody of “Life During Wartime.”

I don’t remember now when I wrote it—almost certainly either the spring of 84 or 85. It’s hardly perfect—for one thing, like many efforts of this type, it doesn’t attempt to wrestle with the entire song—but I think overall I did okay in terms of matching meter.  Just in case you can’t make out my scribbling above, here are the lyrics, with full apologies to David Byrne (note: Transy classes always started at half-past the hour). Feel free to sing along!

Heard of a month at Transylvania
It’s at the end of the year
A chance to relax and get together
I think that May Term is here!

The sound of music off in the distance
I’m getting used to it now
There’s a good time right down the hall here
The R.A.’s not going to frown

It’s time to party, it’s time to disco
It’s time for foolin’ around
Got time for dancing, and lovey-dovey
Got lots of time for that now

The days are warmer, the nights are shorter
But I guess that’s okay with me
Got only one class, it’s at 10:30
Two hours there then I’m free

When the teacher gives us some homework
I give an audible groan
I sleep in the daytime, live it up at nighttime
I might not want to go home

Heard about bunnies? Heard about hoppers?
Heard about classes to take?
You ought to know not to get an 8:30
You might not get too awake


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