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.


  1. Three things about this post prompt me to leave a comment:
    1. As an English major I was also frequently asked the question "What are you gonna do with that (the degree in English)." Come on people--use your imaginations. The sky's the limit for English majors. Maybe you should tell them you plan to become a millionaire like your uncle.
    2. David also frequently fell asleep during classes. The worst (or best depending on your perspective) story I have heard was when he fell asleep in a class of about 6 students. I think there may have been snoring involved. It's pretty hard to go unnoticed in a class that size.
    3.Why is it that when laughter is inappropriate it becomes that much harder to contain? Your musings brought to mind two such occasions of my own-one occurred during the closing prayer at Stake Conference and one happened during the administration of the Sacrament one Sunday. Oh dear. I am going to burn for sure.

  2. Jill, if you're going to burn, you'll at least be in good company. it egotistical to consider myself good company?