When the new college opened in the next town – a somewhat larger town than ours – our folks began wondering if making the 30-minute drive to class would be worth it.

  Dud was the first to figure out that it was.

  “Boys,” he said, sitting at the Mule Barn philosophy counter and flipping his cup upright with one poetic motion, “I’m signed up over at J.H.T.. I’m going to get me an education.”

  “That’s great, Dud,” said his mentor and straight man, Doc. “What are you taking?”

  “Just one class to start out, Doc,” Dud said. “Thought I’d kinda e-e-e-ease into it, you know. I’m taking functional literacy.  We’re going to study words and their meanings.”

  “I thought you did that in high school. Maybe even in grammar school?”

  “Right, Doc. But this is college, you know. We’re going to take functional literacy to a higher plane!”

  When Jerry Hat-Trick Junior College recently opened its doors, it attracted a great deal of attention. Not only was it the first privately-endowed junior college in the country, but it was named for its benefactor, the famous retired hockey player. It had always been Jerry’s dream, he told the world, to bring about a greater appreciation for the associate in arts degree. To do this, he paid educators to meet in think tanks all over the county and come up with classes that were “outside the box.”

  Jerry did well in hockey, naturally, but endowing a two-year institution of semi-higher learning became possible only after he married the heiress to a pork-belly fortune. You might call that “functional matrimony.”

  So J.H.T. J.C. was born, having innovative classes like “Pruning for the New Millenium,” “Creative Sword Swallowing,” and “First-Strike Self Defense.”

  It got some of the rest of us considering a return to the halls of Virginia creeper for a tune-up. After all, as charter members of the Mule Barn truck stop’s world dilemma think tank, it’s our duty to stay on the cutting edge.

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