BIASED ADVICE: Henrietta Heartburn

Dear Henrietta,

I’ve read your column this semester and, frankly, I’ve been scared to write to you with my problems. Sometimes you’re scarier than Deadpool, and you don’t even wear a mask … I think.

Anyway, my problem is at the point where I’m not sure where to turn for advice, and you’re about the only choice left where I don’t have to spend money, so here goes.

It’s commencement in ten days and – no, I’m not the guy who wrote you about wearing a pizza box and bathrobe to commencement – I’ve got this fear of maces. No, not the mace you spray in people’s faces. I’m talking about the mace they carry at the front of the faculty procession. The big one made of wood and with all the brass and decoration on it.

I don’t know how I got this fear of maces, but the first time I found out was when I was seven and my parents made me a black knight costume for Halloween with a wiffle bat and a styrofoam ball with cardboard spikes glued on the end. I freaked out.for the next 15 years.

And now I’ve got to worry about a big varnished piece of wood with lots of decoration when I go marching into the convocation center. I don’t think I’ll be able to keep my cool. What do I do?

One other thing: whet do I do now that I’m leaving college and going out into the real world?

Scared of a big stick,



Dear Francis,


Francis? This is some kind of a joke, right? I mean the name and your Deadpool reference. Sure your real name isn’t Ajax?

Anyway, Teddy Roosevelt said something more than a century about speaking softly and carrying a big stick, but I guess that’s a non-starter for you. After a long 10 seconds of careful consideration, though, I may have a  solution.

Go to Books and Brew and get one of those green plastic coffee stirrers from the courtesy counter. Paint the top of it gold or brass or something metallic, squint really hard and look at it until you think you see a mace. When you start getting panicky, stop squinting and you’ll see it’s just a coffee stirrer. Practice that for a few days.

Now, when you get to commencement and see the mace, squint really hard and it should turn into a coffee stirrer. You’re going to look pretty strange when they take your picture as you go up to get your diploma and handshake from the chancellor and Senator Warner, but at least you won’t look terrified.

As for what you’re going to do when you go out into the real world? Stop squinting so much.

Maximum effort,


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