I friend passed on to mea letter he recently received from a school -- hereinafter known as "X," that he had attended. It was the Passing of the Guard -- the new principal was announcing, with cloying and formulaic praise, the departure of the director of alumni affairs. My friend and informant wanted me to read the letter, and let him know if I thought he should make a large donation to the school.
I started to read the letter addressed to "Members of the X family." It was "with mixed emotions" that he announced the departure of Mr. Y who, "with unwavering expertise and dedication," had given years to the school. Mr. Y was someone who "richly deserves" to "spend more time with his family and enjoy other pursuits." Mr. Y and his wife "look foward to an exciting new chapter of their lives."
Among Mr. Y's virtues was the fact that he "demonstrated an uncommon talent" for "hiring team members" who "believe in X's mission." Mr. Y worked "tirelessly" and also developed "innovative" programs to "better serve" our allumni, and tp "forge meaningful and substantial bonds" among the alumni. He's shown "superb management skills," raised lots of money, "spearheaded a drive" to do this and then that, made "inestimable contributions" to the life of the "X community" both on and (surprise!) "off camps." His "boundless" knowledge of the alumni, his "tireless travels" both "across the nation and the world" have been "pivotal to the growth," the growth, growth, growth, of the endowment, or the school, or the school-which-is-its-endowment.
And then followed some stuff and guff bout a "national search," which would occur once the school's lords and masters had properly defined the "type of leader we need as we build our strong AA&D [Alumni Affairs and Development -- this means fundraising] program to meet" -- well, now you try to guess what the school needs to meet?
Yes, you're right -- "to meet the exciting challenges that lie ahead."
"Please join me in thanking and congratulating" a man who..."has become a dear friend."
What? Just a "dear friend"? Not a "dear personal friend"?
I'm disturbed by this. If Mr. Y, for all he's done for school X, is not a "close personal friend" or a "dear personal friend" of Principal Z, but after all those years of toil, is only a "dear friend," then something is amiss.
I don't think I'll be able recommend to my friend that he donate this year. And I might urge him not to remember X -- as that school keeps hinting, and not at all demurely, would be welcome -- in his will.