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The older I get, the more I am coming to terms with the fact that I will probably never find the opportunity to pursue a PhD. I’d love to, and I’m sure enough of my abilities that I think I’d be able to achieve it, but I just don’t think the time and money will ever be found available, especially when I have four children, all of whom I want to be able to give the opportunity for brightening their horizons of learning. In a sense, I had my chance. It’s their turn now.

Although, as I get older—which, of course, I mentioned already—I’m realizing that I’m not as interested in the prospect as I used to be, anyway. And the reasons why? Well, the first is that I can think of at least five different fields in which I’d enjoy studying at the doctorate level. Which one would I choose? And that, right there, is part of the problem. I could easily be tempted to remain a fulltime student for the rest of my life, which means that I probably wouldn’t choose just one. I’d choose one after the other and keep on going.

I’d end up divorced, broke, and regularly maligned before the grandkids as having been a rotten father. Who wants that, right?

The second reason is the dissertation—which is, ultimately, the end goal, yes? Well, I’m already writing fairly comprehensively about things I enjoy, and I’m doing it for free, so why would I want to pay someone to let me do it? That would be ridiculous, and not to mention far too restrictive of my drive to write.

The third reason is more self-preserving. I’ve met too many folks with PhDs—men I used to count as friends—who’ve defaulted into “Reverend Doctor Professor” mode right in the middle of casual conversation. It’s hard to explain, although I think Alexis de Tocqueville came pretty close when he described the typical American politician as someone who “cannot converse, but he can discuss, and his talk falls into a dissertation. He speaks to you as if he was addressing a meeting; and if he should chance to become warm in the discussion, he will say ‘Gentlemen’ to the person with whom he is conversing.”

I don’t ever want to become someone like that. And just so you know, if I ever just up and walk away from a casual conversation happening between us on the periphery of a symposium, it’s probably because I don’t appreciate that quality in you, either. Surely we can speak of substantive things, but just know that I did not pay to hear you, another one of the attendees, use more of the high-jargon terminology in one sentence than the keynote used in his entire paper, all in an attempt to make sure everyone around you knows that you know more than they know about stuff no one really cares to know about in that moment. Figure out how to get yourself invited back to the conference as a plenary speaker, and maybe I’ll attend your breakout session. Until then, stop interrupting every bit of enjoyable conversation by mentioning your studies under the watchful eye of your quasi-infamous doctoral father and have a drink with the rest of us. Or in the applicable words of Jim Gaffigan regarding swimmers in the hotel pool, “Settle down, spazzo. You’re at the Ramada, not the Olympics.”

By the way, we’re sitting here poolside enjoying the J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation Rare Cask Series edition. Stop talking and take a sip. It’s good. You might like it. In fact, I insist that you take a sip. You’ll learn something—namely that it’s much fuller and far better than the PhD dissertation you wrote.

I know. I read it.

Unlike the level of your colloquial agility amongst humans, the nose of this Canadian whiskey is effortlessly warm, tossing up enjoyable favorites such as melted brown sugar and butter pasted atop a raisin bagel. And its engaging with the mouth is similarly easy. There’s a hint of lemon-lime marmalade (yes, there is such a thing), green tea, and a dash of salted cashews.

The finish is a medium wash of all that has been mentioned, although it ends the conversation somewhat abruptly, leaving behind a very faint “something” along the lines of Montreal steak seasoning—a mild mixture of salt, pepper, paprika, and… I don’t know… maybe garlic. Still not too bad. It made me want to pop open a few more editions, fetch some steaks, and fire up the grill with some friends.

By the way, didn’t you say you needed to get going, soon?