Wednesday, May 21, 2014

my professor made me a mix tape

to be filed under misadventures in men.

okay. here's the deal. i'm not completely unfortunate looking. but i'm not, like, a head-turner or anything, you know? i'm regulation cute, if that. my beauty is best appreciated by old men with cataracts and homeless dudes. my (now) husband doesn't even remember hiring me at the taco shop/nightclub where our illustrious romance began. shortly after i started (we were just friends at the time), he told me "you're beautiful, but not hot." (i still don't really know what that means.) usually when guys like me it is because i am slightly stalking them (see link above), or because they get to know me and fall madly in love with my devastating wit and charm ... and of course my humility ;) i think i grow on people. so i'm always sort of surprised when i realize that someone is hitting on me, and that realization often comes much later than it should. for example, a decade or so after the fact.

like that time in high school when my girlfriend and i went running and stopped by one of our teacher's houses on the way. he wasn't home. the next day we told him we'd stopped by and he replied "DAMMIT! i was at the movies. i really wish i'd been home. my wife is out of town. [*wink wink nudge nudge*]" my friend and i were like, "oh, that's so nice! he probably wanted to watch tv and eat popcorn with us or something!"

not only am i a bit slow on the uptake, i am also more than a little awkward and i often exacerbate uncomfortable situations. i'm like the perfect storm of anxiety disorders, the catalyst of spontaneous combustion in any given social scenario. then i'm standing there in the rubble thinking, oh my god, i'm married with children. WHY did i give my number to that guy from Thunder From Down Under?! i have gotten myself into countless strange situations because of this combination of unfortunate behavioral tics. possibly including a slight case of turrets, e.g., the time i was leaving work somewhat distraught after my grandfather passed away, and saw my close (female) friend who is a partner at my firm standing on the corner with another (male) partner who is not any sort of friend and who probably didn't even know my name (oh but he does now), and i rolled down the window as i drove by and hollered, "HEY! HOW MUCH FOR A BLOWJOB?!?" omg. wtf is wrong with me?! i have yet to receive a call from HR thank you lord.

so anyway. when i was in college i worked for one of my professors. i think he was the only male professor in the critical gender studies department. he was the very definition of a masculine feminist. when i got the job, this douche* in my class (who was clearly taking the course to satisfy some GE requirement) said i only got the job because i was cute. i resented the implication on many levels, not least because, in my mind, professor forsee was above reproach. prematurely-graying professor trying to bed his young, not-unfortunate-looking TA? he would never be so petty or predictable. and i didn't think about him "in that way," either. admittedly, i wanted to be the best, most brilliant TA in the history of TAs, because i'm a first-born over-achieving ass-kisser and that's how i roll. but he was married and definitely not professor mcdreamy or anything.

from the get-go, DM was suspicious. but i constantly assured him that there was absolutely no funny business going on. i didn't think twice about the fact that the professor and i spent hours discussing things other than queer theory in his office. we emailed and texted. i'd heard his whole life story inside my first week, and he delved into many of his personal demons during the course of our work together. he talked about his marriage - the good, the bad, and the ugly, and i told him the tumultuous tale of Mackenzie and Daddy Mack. he asked me which significant other i had loved the most, versus who i had been the most in love with, and whether they were the same person. i said yes. he said no. at the time, i was on some gnarly prescription drugs pretty much 24/7 due to a chronic pain condition, and he said he liked the days i didn't take them because he got to see more of "the real me." (i didn't have the heart to tell him that his perceptiveness re: the medicated or non-medicated state of my pscyche was wrong half the time, and probably had more to do with levels of caffeine consumption than some special insight into my soul.) we talked about sex and ... ahem... onanism... and i mean on a personal level, not as academic topics. being blind, none of this raised any red flags for me. i still have to give him the benefit of the doubt. i really never got a creepy predatory vibe from the guy, he was just one of those dudes who wanted to talk about feelings.

then. my professor made me a mix tape. (well, a CD, really, but "mix CD" doesn't have the same ring to it.) to DM, this was pervy per se. but i can think of situations where one would make a mix tape for another without explicit designs to have The Sex. i mean, i've made mixes for friends and coworkers, my sister and my dad. my sister-in-law made me a great mix for my commute. so, to me, it was not de facto out of line.

but here is where i lose those last shreds of plausible deniability. below is a list of the songs:

Amie - Damien Rice
The Blower's Daughter - Damien Rice
Lonseome - Tears Beck
Sunday - Sun Beck
Be My Number Two - Joe Jackson
Hometown - Joe Jackson
It's Different for Girls  - Joe Jackson
Fade Into You - Mazzy Star
I Deserve It - Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham
California Stars - Billy Bragg & Wilco
Rain - Patty Griffin
Pink Moon - Nick Drake
California - Rufus Wainwright
At My Most Beautiful - R.E.M.
Inside of Love - Nada Surf
Holiday in Spain - Counting Crows
The Sweetest Gift - Sade

i shit you not. i told DM at the time and he was like, "are you fucking kidding me?" and i was like, "what? it's not like that!" seriously, guys. i am really and truly this ridiculous and out of touch.

i stood by that for a good long time. i still mostly do, because, well, A) nothing happened so if he did want to get in my pants, he obviously wasn't trying very hard, and B) i guess i still have him up on this pedestal in my mind. i just don't want to think that my brilliant and beatific professor would fall prey to such a cliche. but then the other day we were listening to music and one of the now infamous mix-tape songs came on and DM gave me the hairy eyeball and we started to rehash the whole "i swear he wasn't trying to make out with me" debate and then i stopped and just started cackling because a particular memory had been jarred loose, causing the bottom to fall out of my already tenuous argument: i remembered the part of the story where my professor said (apropos to what? god only knows), "did you know that [noted feminist theorist] bell hooks actually condones erotic relationships between teachers and students in the name of subverting the dominant paradigm?"

uhhhhmmmm, yeah.

i do love me some bell hooks, though.

the end.

* someone once told me it was very un-feminist of me to use "douche" as a derogatory term, but sometimes, 'a useless and terrible man-made invention to make vaginas smell like pinesol' is just the thing. i especially like to pair it with "bonnet" because i think it makes me sound french and fancy.



"all of you people, there is a big world out there... bigger than prom, bigger than high school and it won't matter if you were the prom queen, the quarterback of the football team, or the biggest nerd in school. find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it." but do be afraid of that teacher not-so-subtly trying to get in your pants, unless you want him to subvert you with his dominant paradigm.
source: twentieth century fox and the google

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