Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Let me help you please with your shoe.

I have this very sophisticated professor.

She's probably (as I've been spouting to Tracy for weeks, who has the class with me and has to listen to me gob on all the time about how SMART this lady is) the most well-read professor I've ever had. And let's say I've had about forty professors thus far.

This professor of mine wears buttery red leather jackets, loops and loops of smooth gold necklaces, has perfectly manicured dark red nails and perfectly tailored pants and crisp white button-up shirts. She even wears one of those eight million dollar old-lady slithery track jackets sometimes--leopard print. The shiz.
And she has an accent. Of course...I wouldn't let this accent make me believe anything she's saying is more useful than it really is, because it all IS that useful, because she IS that smart.
One of those people whose every sentence you covet because you know you get one of those smart sentences out about once a month.
But the real basic reason she seems to be so Proper and Admirable to me is because of her knowledge. This professor of mine was educated formally by tutors, went to a legit university, she's the head of a bunch of national forums of ethnic literature, and she'll soon be in charge of an online database so popular amongst the pool of literary people I swim in every day that I won't even mention it, because of the sensitive (or maybe just a little squirmy) nature of the story I am about to tell.
It's not even sensitive, this story, maybe just irreverent is the right word, and it's really just kind of squirmy because it's one of those uncomfortable experiences where you never thought you'd see the person you're seeing in the situation you see them in. You know what I'm talking about?

See: your elementary school teacher at the grocery store with her daughter. Makes your nine-year-old heart swell up with jealousy because you forgot she had children of her own to attend to.

See: a boy from your 314 writing class entering the same group therapy you're in. Shrivel. Hey buddy....

See: your very soft-spoken, put together, buttoned-up American Lit professor MOSHING with his wife at the concert of this silly little techno band that you are currently moshing at. Oh hey professor, just...you know...moshing here with this boy that I came with and yes he is kind of drunk but I'm not! Sweaty! I'm in five-foot proximity with my professor who is also sweaty! Too close! What in the world are you doing here? See you in class Monday when you aren't wearing that caftan thing!

See: anyone important, particular, or proper in any kind of communal bathroom. Teachers, church leaders, people's parents, girls you kind of knew in high school but don't...all in all, anyone in the bathroom who isn't a stranger or your best friend is just plain Weird.

Which is where we come to my story.
This professor of mine.
In her class, we set the desks in a circle. Usually this fails, at least, in my previous experiences--everyone feels a little too kumbaya and is just as silent as ever--but in her class, it works. The extra desks are corralled in the middle of the circle, and everyone is out against the walls with a lot of space to themselves.

Except if you get there late you end up sitting right next to her. So I'm usually late. And I sit on that late side of the classroom more often than not. It's more awkward to raise your hand in these positions because you kind of have to wave it in front of her face to get attention. And people are looking at you a lot more because they're looking at her because she's talking.

I sat in my desk the other morning, my late desk right near la profesora, my nose and fingertips still numb from outside, and as I kicked around at my coat under my desk, my scarf came lose from my pile of crap and flitted partway across the space in front of me. I bent under my desk to grab it and, as I usually do, took a glance around at the shoes around me. I looked at my professor's right pump, black, leather, respectable, square toed, and then I looked at her left one, and awkwardness overcame me.

Because there was a small rectangular wad of toilet paper flitting from under the toe of it.

She often waves her tiny feet around for emphasis, being a shorter, spunky woman, and that piece of tissue waved like a little white flag, over and over and over. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed this little pinwheeling of white, but if they did, they were artfully ignoring it while staying concentrated on her face.

This class is 75 minutes long, and I can tell you that I spent a good part of the 65 minutes I was there in time for trying to convince myself that it wasn't toilet paper, it was a piece of a plastic bag, or something, or...she'd stepped on...something white and...soft and pliable...that wasn't for toilet purposes...but the perforated lines were visible and I couldn't deny it. That generic toilet tissue they use at my school is just too distinctive.

Did you just get that squiggle up your back?
I guess everyone goes to the bathroom. But my goodness, how uncomfortable those 65 minutes were.


Tracy said...


I totally noticed too. But it took all of my brain power to keep focused on the fast paced discussion and her abstract concepts to ponder too much about what it was, and so as a result, I was surprisingly not bothered. But I'm glad you cleared that up for me, because I was confused/curious.

See you in class Thursday.

Brittany said...

You just said you aren't going to tell me who this is...but I need to know. I love sophisticated professors too. I LOVE THEM!

But yes, awkward.

jenny said...

This isn't Gloria, is it? New Zealand Gloria? Because if it is, she's my backyard neighbor. And I'm going to tell her about the toilet paper...

dizzy said...


Do teachers intentionally do things to distract you to make you feel bad about yourself for being distracted?!?!

brooke said...

when I am a teacher I think I will do things like that just for effect.

thesexyrays said...

Hahaha this is hilarious. I was looking at classes to take from her, by the way, on your recommendation.