Thursday, February 19, 2009

Professor Wood cracked

This post comes in relation to the last. In my previous post I mentioned how stoic professors are in the face of incredible temptation to laugh. Yesterday I was witness as one of my professors folded under the pressure to remain aloof. Yes, she laughed...kind of.
It happened in my Dickins class. (Yes I'm in a class devoted entirely to Charles Dickins.) There's a girl in my class that makes this funky noise every single time class is held. At first you think she's just hiccuping, but then the hiccup increases in volume as well as duration until she's shrieking. The noise that she makes sounds like a mixture of a corpse, post-mortem, gasping for air and the sound that Shiz surely made as he, after he had had his head cut off, "raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died." (Ether 15:31) Only imagine that sound increased in volume and occuring in the middle of a discussion about the societal criticism made by the masterful pen of Dickins. It's distracting sometimes and hilarious...always. As for what causes this regularly occuring death-rattle, Will, one of my classmates, and I have several theories, but due to their superfluous nature in relation to this story, I shan't share them, unless asked.
Anyway, the first couple of times this happened in class, I grinned broadly and looked at the young lady to see her reaction. She always just sat back in her chair and pretended that nothing had happened. (Be it known that this class is held in a classroom where we students sit in groups around tables. I'm not straining my neck or anything to look around at this girl, she just happens to sit right in my line of sight.) After a while I grew accustomed to this rather noisy ritual, and have more recently been able to keep any visual evidences of my mirth within. This has been one of the occurences of which I spoke in my last post which, to my consternation, has never caused the slightest interruption in my professor's flow of speech; until yesterday.
After making some profound statement about the significance of the bells in Dickins' The Chimes, Professor Wood paused dramatically. Right as this pause was gaining steam and increasing the gravity of what had just been said, the great shrieking gasp was set loose upon the class. It was a virtuosic production. Caught off guard, Professor Wood let out a loud guffaw. I was stunned. She quickly swallowed the guffaw, but by interupting it before it had run its full course she caused a kind of loud thumping noise within her chest. This only increased the hilarity of the situation. She looked horrified. After a lightning-quick glance around the room, Professor Wood gathered herself and continued on with the class discussion. Everyone but Will and myself sat attentively as if nothing had happened. It was astounding. Why was not everyone rolling around on the floor unable to contain their mirth? I was amusedly perplexed. I caught Will's eye and was forced to look away rapidly to avoid a sudden outburst of raucous laughter.
After class had ended Will and I discussed this experience and we came to the conclusion that the rest of our class is peopled with zombies. It's the only possible explanation. How else could they fail to see the humor in the situation? As for Professor Wood, she's given me hope. Perhaps it is permissable for a professor to have a sense of humor; as long as they're willing to fight off the undead.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Deterrent

I'm an English major. I love seeing people's reactions when I tell them that. They go from kind of confused to overly supportive every time. It's hilarious. Anyway the most common question people ask me upon finding out what I study is, "So...uh...what are you gonna do with that? Teach?" People can't fathom being able to live off of amazing abilities to critically analyze life and synthesize such criticism into real life situations. Anyway, I usually tell them that I'm leaning towards getting an advanced degree and, yes, teaching as a professor. However, this tentative goal hit a speed bump this week. As a result, I'm not sure I could teach.
This speed bump came as I was in my Spanish Literature class on Thursday. We were doing a kind of group presentation on a play called La Casa de Bernarda Alba. Everything was going along fine. I explained my part about how the little lamb that the crazy grandma carries around is actually a symbol of Christ and how it, when juxtaposed with what the Grandma says, is a scathing denunciation of Franco's fascist rule in Spain and categorized it as being un-Christian. Then it happened.
First, be it known that this class is 90 minutes long and starts at 4 pm so, lamentably, many of the students, exhausted from their extensive studious endeavors, fall asleep in class. I would be lying to say that I did not find myself in their company.
Anyway, after I finished my little analysis, our professor began explaining something to the class while my group and I continued to stand up in front. It was then that a slumbering young man, who was sitting in the desk directly in front of me, nearly fell out of his chair and jerked himself violently awake. The professor was talking about something fairly serious and to smile, not to mention laugh, would have been totally inappropriate. As such I struggled mightily with myself to not laugh aloud. I succeeded in making no noise, but being a mirthful fellow inclined to laugh given the slightest prompting, my efforts to conceal my laughter caused slight, yet plainly visible, twitches of the body, while a smile of epic proportions spread itself quickly across my face. There was nothing I could do. For the life of me I know not how my classmates were able to keep straight faces during these events. As I caught the eye of one of my friends in the class Steve, I could see that he too was laughing silently. But being hidden from view of the professor (he wasn't up front with me) he could do so unabashedly.
Anyway, after class I approached the professor and apologized for my gaiety. He just looked at me funny and said he hadn't noticed anything. I didn't explain.
As I was mulling this over in my mind I began to remember times that I have done just exactly what this young man had done. I remembered the time the girl sitting next to me in my astronomy class nudged me awake because my loud breathing was distracting. A plethora of such occurrences flooded my mind, and I set myself to thinking about the professors witnessing them. How had they kept straight faces? And more importantly, how would I ever be able to so? I honestly don't know.
Maybe I should watch CNN more often, that would definitely somber me right up.