A Visit from St. Rex

As a freshman at BYU, I have recently become acquainted with two hot topics: dorm room inspection, and President Lee’s admonition that we quit piddling around and graduate in four years. So in honor of these two ideas, here’s a little Christmas poem I stole.

“A Visit from President Rex E. Lee”
(with apologies to whoever wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas”)

‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through the “Y”
The students were leaving, and saying goodbye.
Their bags were all packed and their airplanes reserved;
Results of their finals had made them unnerved.
They all headed home to their families and friends
While visions of graduating danced in their heads.

But I stayed a day more in Deseret Towers
(“Where Cold is the Water in All of the Showers”).
I had a few holiday columns to write
Before I could catch my Los Angeles flight.

When out in the hall there arose such a yell
I sprang from my desk and I said, “What the hell?”
I rushed to the door and I flung it wide open
(Knowing it wasn’t a girl, but still hopin’),
When who down the hall should quickly come stormin’
But a guy in a suit who looked rather Mormon.
He carried a sack and his face was perplexed —
I knew in a moment it must be St. Rex.

The Board of Trustees was there, all dressed the same
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
“Hey, Brigham! Hey, Parley! Hey, Orson and Ether!
Hey, Wilford! Lorenzo! Hey, Lyman and Heber!
Get out of the elevator, come down the hall!
Now hurry up! Hurry up! Hurry up, all!”

They knew what to do and they got quickly to it.
They entered my room and began to search through it.
They looked through my stuff, both above and below,
Looking for signs that my standards were low.
If they turn up something, you don’t get it back:
It quickly gets tossed into St. Rex’s sack.
They looked through my very large music collection
(I’m afraid my Madonna didn’t pass the inspection).
Some books were found dirty when scrutinized next —
I had to point out they were BYU texts.

When they were done searching for items obscene
I asked old St. Rex, “Please, sir, what does this mean?”
He said, “Kids must concentrate just on their learning
Or else their diplomas they’ll never be earning.
Folks get accepted and once they get here,
They don’t ever leave for another six years.
So others can’t enter, no matter how clever,
Because the ones here just don’t graduate — ever!
We have to make sure that our students are free
To study whatever their subjects might be.
To do that, we go and we fill up this sack
With anything we think might somehow distract.”

I thanked him for coming and censoring me
He shook my hand warmly (so did the Trustees).
So then they all left, but I heard St. Rex shout:
“Merry Christmas to all, and in four years — GET OUT!!”

(Eric D. Snider — a freshman, we’ll warn ya —
Comes from Lake Elsinore, in California.)

Pardon me, but this is a great column. Let me list the reasons why:

1. "When out in the hall there arose such a yell/I sprang from my desk and I said, 'What the hell?'" still makes me laugh, because it's such a close variation to the real line in the original "'Twas the Night before Christmas" poem. Same goes for the closing lines.

2. Even when rhyming, I manage to get in my standard fake Deseret Towers motto, as well as my standard "tag" joke at the very end.

3. Making stuff rhyme is almost automatically funny.

When this was published in the Daily Herald, Earl the Editor replaced the names of the Board of Trustees with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen. I'm not sure I grasp the logic of that. Apparently it was less offensive to call them by the names of Santa's reindeer than it was to call them by traditional, old-fashioned Mormon names.

(And had I been aware then, as I am now, that the Board of Trustees includes the First Presidency and several Apostles, I probably would not have dragged them into this anyway.)