Nov 1, 2023

The next morning Roberta came round to enlist volunteers for a Dada art performance. Seely had buried her head in her requisition book and frowned with feigned concentration, trying to appear too busy to be conscripted. But when she saw Stuart dragging a splintered chair and a power saw into the slide library, she scuttled after him. Roberta was instructing a unit of only three. So Seely fetched a Ph.D. robe from the back room, arranged the satin hood over her head, and made it a foursome.

Once Roberta was inside the lecture room, they took turns pressing their ears to the door, and, when her talk was about five minutes underway, they burst in. Nan had her boom box turned up to full volume. Seely pirouetted in front of her, clicking two giant staplers over her head like castanets and singing, “La Cucaracha.” Dizzily, she glimpsed Nan throwing confetti she’d cut from the morning’s newspaper and her assistant, Ellie, fencing at the air with a broken umbrella—handle and spokes only. Stuart, in a gas mask and goggles, was sawing the chair to splinters with a deafening roar. Roberta scolded and railed at them with almost believable outrage. Then, just before they exited, Nan snatched a pile of books from the lectern and dropped one—as per instructions. Roberta retrieved it and held it up for the class to see—”ART” was printed on the cover. “They have no respect!”she cried.  On the pile of wood that had been a chair, Stuart left a sign, “DADA LIVES!”