(Note to newcomers: if you got here by googling certain anatomical terms, the following post is going to be a serious disappointment to you. Might as well click away now, before you waste your time.)
While working to cheer me up after I found out that a certain Dream School had chosen not to interview me,** friend and fellow blogger S. e-mailed me a funny story from her classroom this week. I won't go into details, because it's not really my story, but the upshot of it was that it was a moment when unintentional physical comedy worked because the professor in question was happy to laugh at her own foibles. And it reminded me of a recent time that something similar happened to me. I shared it with her, and now I'm going to share it with you now, in case you needed a bit of light comedy to take your minds off of papers, bluebooks, presentations, or the impending interview season.
Background: I have, this semester, possibly the best class I've ever taught: small (19 students), smart, and all but three of them are constantly popping up with discussion. We hit it off well from the first week on, so it was a great semester. And the fact that I'm a complete dork as a lecturer, and can laugh at my own dorkiness, seems to work.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, I got off onto some tangent or another regarding the medieval Mediterranean, and decided that I needed to draw them a map to illustrate. Now, I'm a rotten artist, but you can usually figure out what my freehand maps are, especially if I say helpful things like "that's France" while I'm drawing. So I start in the west, draw the eastern coast of Spain, then up to southern France, then a blobbish peninsula for Italy, then kind of half-circle around the eastern Mediterranean, then back across for North Africa. I get halfway into the next sentence in whatever point I was making when I suddenly realize that one should be a bit more than vaguely representational when drawing Italy, because it looks like I've just drawn a giant penis on the board. "Now that just looks bad," I say, and they laugh. "I'd better clarify that." So I pick up the marker again and draw another couple of small blobs off the tip of "Italy", and say, "There. Sicily and Sardinia. That should be better." But even as I say it, I (and my students, who begin laughing even harder) realize that all I've done is to draw what can only be described as... well, puddles, off the tip of my all-too-phallic map. "Oh, crap -- that's even worse, isn't it?" By this time, I'm getting students desperately shouting out, "Make it a boot! Make it a boot!" Which I do, and it looks marginally less obscene. Even so, I had to let myself laugh for a full minute or so, then take a couple of deep, cleansing breaths before I could go on with the lecture, since by that time I could barely remember what I had been trying to say in the first place.
I make my own fun.
**No, you didn't miss something. I had refrained from mentioning this because it wasn't central. I'm not "on the market" in the traditional sense, because I have a job that I like. But this was one of those job ads that you see and think, "That's my job." Except in this case, it wasn't.