The Michigan Daily discovered in April 2005 that several articles written by arts editor Marshall W. Lee did not meet the newspaper’s standard of ethical journalism. Parts of these stories had been plagiarized from other news sources. Although the article below has not been found to contain plagiarism, the Daily no longer stands by its content. For details, see the Daily’s editorial.


When I heard through the grapevine that my rotund, flaxen-haired neighbor Mathilda was leaving Ann Arbor for a Peace Corps assignment in some drab and desolate third-world nation — let’s say Tajikistan or, I don’t know, Poland — my first thought was Bleah, gross, because I was eating something with coconut in it and I hate coconut. But my second thought was Selfish ingrate bitch! After all that we’ve been through together!

OK, OK, so her and I have never actually, technically met. And yeah, I’m relatively certain that my aesthetic sensibilities would automatically refuse association with someone who wears copper bracelets and subscribes to Oprah Magazine. But over the course of our short time together Mathilda and I have managed to transcend the trite social formalities of acquaintance and communication, and to forge an expressive, significant bond rooted in deeper, dare I say sacred ground: We are both really fucking nosy. You see, I was first introduced to the mystery that is Mathilda one August afternoon when I returned from Meijer just in time to see a vaguely familiar, rounded silhouette shuffling sneakily away from my open mailbox and up the front steps next door. Rummaging through my personal correspondence! Well that’s a federal offense, so what else could I possibly do but wait until dusk to go investigate the inside of her Plymouth with a flashlight (select highlights include: 8 empty packs of American Spirits, a Neil Diamond Best of cassette, and a dog-eared glossy pamphlet entitled “Is Satan in You?”).

And things only escalated from here. Sideways glances and informal recon gave way to full on snooping; I don’t know what Mathilda’s excuse is, but frankly I just can’t help it. Sure, I have a dazzling life of my own; in fact my everyday is a non-stop action spectacle filled with trials, tribulations and partial nudity, but the truth is that I’ve just never been able to keep my nose out of other people’s business. The fault lies entirely with Duracell. When I was just a wee youngster, after the dimming double-As in my Walkman reduced Kriss-Kross’s masterful flow to a sputtering hum, I made a life-altering discovery. Did you know that perfect strangers, well within earshot, will unabashedly share their most private and intimate conversations with just about anyone wearing headphones and nodding rhythmically at the ground? I didn’t, and my life has never quite been the same. But all the eighth-grade locker probes, and all the neck-craning efforts to glimpse O.P.T.M. (Other Peoples Text Messages, as if you didn’t know), were merely cross-training for my epic battle with Mathilda.

And now, after all this time, that ungrateful Heidi-wannabe is just going to pack up and leave me? I’m outraged! I’m insulted! I’m, well, relieved. To tell you the honest truth, Mathilda, I’ve been feeling restless and a bit bored. I didn’t know how to break it to you, but lately I’ve found your antics to be half-hearted and jejune. I mean c’mon, rooting through our trash bins dressed as a bum – let’s face it, the spark is gone. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the time that we’ve had together, but I think we both saw this coming. Don’t worry kiddo, you’ll find someone new, someone exciting who undresses with the blinds open or gets unmarked packages from Katmandu; someone really great. So thanks for the memories Mathilda, good luck and Godspeed.

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