A dab of Penn State behind the ear

Written by Reg Henry on .

I suffer from allergies and once a week I visit a clinic where the allergy ladies give me shots. I try to be as charming as I can on these occasions, following the general theory that one should be especially nice to women armed with needles.

Therefore I do not greet with much enthusiasm the news in this morning's paper that a company is manufacturing a men's cologne and women's perfume for supporters of Penn State. ("Eau de Happy Valley: Penn State Gets Official Perfume"). You may think this is nothing to be sneezed at, but for people like me it is.

I am also concerned about the ingredients. On the company's Web site, I read that each "signature scent" of a school takes into consideration the following: school colors, mascot spirit, traditions and history, landmarks and architectural style, campus trees and flowers, mission statements, college town character and themes in the alma mater and fight songs. That is a lot of stuff to get distilled into one bottle of school spirit.

While I fear campus trees and flowers getting up my nose, especially if birds are nesting in them, the thing I am most concerned about is that reference to the college's mission statement. I do not know what Penn State's mission is - my guess would be "being the best we can be in the educational environment while winning as many football games as possible under a coach who personally knew the pharaohs." This would be a very fine mission statement, but it is probably too interesting to be real.

Mission statements are always useless, being the literary labors of committees tasked with pretending to do something important while actually doing nothing. Whether in the academic community or in the wider world, managers fear that if left to their own devices, committees will roam the streets bothering ordinary citizens.

In earlier times, missions statements were read to patients as a substitute for anesthesia during operations or as a handy way for hosts to make people leave parties at midnight. Being so boring and pointless, mission statements gather a great deal of dust, which if put into a perfume or cologne could spell my doom.

Nothing against Penn State, but you perfumed Nittany Lions can keep your distance from me. I am happy enough in my own valley, thank you very much.


Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.