The phone of recently inaugurated President Christina Paxson has been ringing off the hook over the past few weeks. The calls, however, come not from other administrators or donors, but from an increasingly concerned former President Ruth Simmons just checking in to see “how her little angel Christina” is doing at her new school.
“Hey, Christina, it’s Ruth again! Just checking in again to see how everything’s going," Simmons chirped on her fifth consecutive call on Monday. "Did you remember to submit those latest building plans to the Corporation? Let me know how things are going, thanks! Miss you, love you, call me back when you get this! Bye!”
Five minutes later, a large sigh was reportedly heard from Paxton’s office as the phone rang again.
“It’s me again! Ruth!” said Simmons. “Just a little ‘check in.’ By the way, Christie, are you sure you can handle that Corporation meeting tomorrow? It’s okay to ask for help! Really, I’m in the neighborhood. It’s no trouble at all. Everyone needs a break now and then, even big-girl university officials!”
“Also,” added Simmons, "Feel free to shoot me a draft of that budget proposal of yours if you want. Nothing makes a bad impression like a misplaced comma or a poor font choice. Well, I’d better wrap this up in case you’re trying to call me back right now. See you soon, honey!”
Upon returning to the University, Simmons held an emergency press conference to address the recent change in the Corporation’s leadership to her precious little Christina-bear.
“Did Christina do okay at Convocation?" Simmons demanded to know. "Did she remember to finish the dorm renovations? Does anyone know where she might be, because she’s not picking up her phone and I need to know that she has her emergency inhaler on her at all times.”
Simmons then cut the interview short, claiming that she needed to start packing tomorrow’s lunch for Paxson, who is after all not going to grow up to be a big, strong, university president on a pile of catered garbage.
“Yes, President Simmons, the Corporation meeting went well. No, they don’t hate President Paxson. No, I don’t know where she is, but I’ll tell her you love her and would like her to call you back as soon as possible,” Vice President Beverly E. Ledbetter, one of Paxton’s closest associates, was heard halfheartedly speaking into the phone. “No, I don’t think she is giving into peer pressure and signing with the first good looking contractor she meets.”
“Yes, President Simmons, she’s right here,” Ledbetter said as Paxton tiptoed by, placing her index finger over her lips and silently mouthing “I’m not here.” Ledbetter continued, “You know what, she’s actually not here. Ever. I’ll tell her you called though.”