Where are they now: Barry Glassner

Illustration by Anna DeSmet

By Anna DeSmet

It was a dark day on campus when the Lewis & Clark student body received an email with the subject line “President Barry Glassner Steps Down; David Ellis Named Interim President.” Many reacted with confusion, and even more were hurt.

“This is a critical time for me to contribute to the public discourse,” Glassner said in the official statement. “Over this next period, I plan to devote myself to my research, writing and speaking before returning to the faculty.” This explanation satisfied few.

“I just don’t understand why he’s leaving us,” Alder Olivier ’20 said. “I thought we had a good thing going, you know? This is so sudden. I was going to introduce him to my parents next weekend.”

And yet, Glassner left. Within a week, most of the student body questioned whether or not Barry had existed at all, or if he had merely been a hallucination shared between 2,500 people.

I never really believed that Barry was gone for good. I knew he had to be out there somewhere, waiting. Being. It took me nine weeks to track him down; I traveled from the endless stretches of corn in Illinois to the parched land of Arizona. In the end, I found Glassner where I never thought to look: home. He was standing patiently at the Pioneer Express bus stop, never having left campus in the first place. The exchange I had with him then will never leave me.

I greeted him, to which he replied, “It should be here any minute now…”

I dismissed this. What had he been doing all this time? Had he really been working to continue his research, writing and speaking all of these months?

“You could say that,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of leads on my next path.”

I congratulated him. I told him that this was more than most of our graduating class had. But there was something still unsaid floating between us.

“Why did you leave us?” I asked. “Some people think the higher ups asked you to leave because you didn’t find enough donors for our ever-small endowment and instead neglected the school into the state of disrepair it’s in now.”

Glassner then made multiple statements I cannot print the entirety of, for legal reasons. I’ve left what I could for you here: “There are… watching… trust each other… I asked the Bon to use fewer onions.”

“But what did you do for the school?” I pressed.

“Look, kid,” Glassner said. “I’ve written three books. I bet you didn’t know that. It’s true. Look it up: barryglassner.com. Have you written any books? No, I didn’t think so.”

I apologized. I tried to explain that I hadn’t meant to insult him.

“If you have to know…” Glassner said. “It was time for me to go. I need to go home now.” As he said this, he looked past where the Pio was now approaching, and for a moment I couldn’t tell where he was looking. The road? The mountain behind that? Perhaps even… beyond?

When I looked back, Glassner was gone, as was the Pio. The only evidence that he had been there at all were the screeches of the Pio braking just outside campus limits. I don’t know where Barry Glassner is anymore, but I like to think that he’s still somewhere near: waiting; watching; preparing for the day when he is needed again.

 

*The Backdoor is a “work” of “humor” and “fiction.”

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