Dear Middle Eastern political leader,

Janna Hutz

You are cordially invited to attend a summit on my porch (hereafter known as The Porch) this Friday, Sept. 26, 2003, beginning promptly at 10 p.m. EDT.

It has come to my attention that you have been experiencing problems with your neighbors of late, and I feel very strongly that something should be done to correct them. I firmly believe that by the end of this summit we will have reached an understanding and that a working peace will be in place.

You may be wondering why this of all summits will provide a solution to your difficulties. Please allow me to explain. Past summits have lacked that certain je ne sais quoi that only The Porch can offer you, for you see, The Porch is not just an ordinary porch. It is, as my housemate James puts it so eloquently, an instrument of diplomacy. There exists no friendlier or more welcoming place in the world.

We will discuss your situation over beer, and since this will be such a special gathering, we will buy something better than Labatt Blue for once. It will not be necessary for you to chip in for beer; the mere offer warms our hearts and is compensation enough. Nor will it be necessary for you to pick up your empty bottles at the end of the night. Ann Arbor’s infinitely friendly and helpful homeless population will see to it that the bottles are collected. Symbiosis!

Should you not like beer (looking your way, ladies), do not feel excluded, because fruit-flavored malt beverages will be provided. And should you not fancy either of those options, additional arrangements for liquor can of course be made. It is a common practice for my housemate Glenn to purchase a pint of Goldschlager and then pass it around The Porch until everyone has experienced its warm, cinnamon-y goodness.

You see, we here at The Porch make it a policy not to exclude on any basis. Whether you’re a beer person, a fruit-flavored malt beverage person or a liquor person, you will find our inviting arms open wide.

Should you drink too much and vomit in our restroom, please do not feel embarrassed, and do not worry about the mess. Glenn will be more than happy to clean up after you.

During the summit, we will listen to wonderful compilation CDs, which will have been created by committee so that racial and ethnic groups are represented equally. White artists like Weezer, Rancid and Oasis will be placed right alongside black artists like Michael Jackson, Public Enemy and Justin Timberlake. We will pause our discussion to sing along with such songs as “Champagne Supernova” and “Senorita” and think of the happy times to come.

However, we must remember to mind the volume so that we do not attract the attention of the vigilant Ann Arbor Police Department, for they are quick to anger. There is nothing like a noise violation to cast a pall over our proceedings. I must also remind you to bring proper identification (a driver’s license will be ample) so that you can prove that you are of legal drinking age, should that become a necessity.

I must also ask you to remember that there is no fighting allowed on The Porch. All weapons of mass destruction or otherwise must be checked before entering the premises.

After we reach a solution to all your problems, which will hopefully occur at 3 a.m., we will order a large New York-style cheese pizza. Mind you, it will not actually come from New York, but I wholeheartedly assure you that it will be delicious and filling. This late-night meal is not only a wonderful bonding experience, but it is quite necessary to avoid the dreaded hangover.

With our pizza consumed, we will have our final drink of the night and engage in one last sing along, this time to Jeff Buckley’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Tears will flow and we will slowly sway side to side as we lose ourselves in the song’s ethereal beauty.

And finally, we will pour out 40 oz. bottles of Budweiser Light beer (we sure as hell aren’t going to drink the stuff) in memory of all of those we lost on the road to peace. We will then hug before we part ways. We will have reached a supreme understanding. We will have ushered in an era of peace, love and understanding. You will return to your homelands and spread the word. Suicide bombings and missile attacks will be brought to an end, and your people will no longer have to live in fear.

There is nothing that cannot be accomplished on The Porch. You’re welcome back anytime; we’re here every weekend.

Signed sincerely, with utmost love, respect and goodwill,

Joel Hoard

Hoard can be reached at j.ho@umich.edu.









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