I think I have a predisposition towards crushing on male English majors--be it a genetic predisposition or an environmental conditioning. Take for example my English 101 TA. Most people dread having to take English 101 and rightly so, I might add, based on what asinine tasks you are asked to perform i.e. “write a paper on how your writing has improved over the course of this class”. Yech. Despite such menial assignments however, I actually looked forward to that class period. I found my TA terribly attractive. Coming from a field where the standard uniform is tevas, shorts, and a t-shirt, it doesn’t take much to make my heart go flutter flutter: a nice pair of shoes and a smart button-down shirt for instance. Currently I have a professor who wears the same green button down shirt every single class. I haven’t decided whether it is the same green shirt or whether he has a closet full of identical green button-downs. Either option is rather hideous. And, then there was the Chemistry professor who wore the same pair of pants for the entire quarter! The fact that my English TA changed his clothes and knew how to wear his jeans well was all that it took to make me swoon. Yet, lest you think that I am completely superficial, it is their lexicon that really drives me over the edge of distraction. I can’t help but swoon at the (correct) use of words like serendipitous, salubrious, and litany. I remember one particular class when he read us some of his own writing…sigh.
I was reminded of this predilection today. We had an all-day workshop where people from the lab or other government agencies came to talk about post-doc, faculty, government, and non-profit jobs. One speaker, however, differed vastly from the group….being the only non-scientist there. You could distinguish him easily due to the hip square glasses, layered-shirt/sweater look, and sweet squared-toe shoes. His degree is in English and is currently the assistant director for the “Center for Teaching Experience.” He spoke on building a teaching portfolio. When he started speaking, using language that in recent years I have only seen on the written page, my heart rate accelerated and I found my eyes drifting towards the ring finger of his left hand. Yes, blast it, he was married.
Garrison Keelor, host of “A Prarie Home Companion,” has little English major montages as part of his show which I find hilarious. Here is a transcript of one that I liked:
TR: Here, I got you something.
SS: What's this? A little bright blue box wrapped in a white ribbon—
TR: Yeah, the way I see it-- our information-gathering phase is over and it's time to move the relationship into third gear. So I'd like to gift you with this box.
SS: Sorry, you'd like to-what?
TR: Gift you. I'm gifting you here.
SS: Oh. Oh dear-I don't know--
TR: So what do you say, Jessica? Are you in or out?
SS: I like you, Frank...but— when I hear you use "gift" as a verb—
TR: Whatcha talking about?
SS: Gift is a noun, Frank. It shouldn't be used as a verb.
TR: Oh please. You're not going to be one of those people, are you?
SS: I am one of those people, Frank. I'm an English major-I thought you understood that.
TR: I thought you'd get over that, Jessica.
SS: Frank, being an English major is not something you get over. It's who I am. Language matters to me.
GK: Would you two like to see the dessert menu?
TR: Listen, mister, bug off, we got something going on here.
SS: Please, Frank—
GK: We have an audacious cheesecake tonight that is refulgent with cheese, a shimmering and resplendent dessert with plump, one might almost say Rubensesque, cherries on top.
TR: Hey, did you hear me, creep? Amscray.
SS: Did you say "Rubensesque?"
GK: Yes, of course.
SS: Most people would say "Rubenesque"—
GK: I know, but that would be wrong.
SS: Exactly. It refers to the painter. Peter Paul Rubens.
GK: Of course.
SS: You're the first person I know who has used that word correctly. I want to cry.
GK: Please. Here's a fresh napkin.
SS: For a moment, I thought you might be— but o no, I'm being silly—
GK: You thought I might be what?
SS: You're a waiter, but somehow I thought you might be a poet—
GK: I have a book of poems coming out next month. It's called "A Small Salad On The Side".
SS: Oh my gosh.
GK: It's my first collection.
SS: I'd give anything to read it!
GK: It's back at my apartment.
SS: Let me get my coat.
TR: Guess I'll take this ring and get out of here.
SS: Goodbye, Frank.
TR: I could've offered you a lot, Jessica. A lot.
SS: Maybe so. But there was no poetry, Frank.
SS: Poetry. (ROMANTIC VIOLIN) I could never be happy in that enormous condo of yours. That expensive furniture. The pool, the Jacuzzi. You forgot something, Frank.
TR: What was that?
SS: A bookshelf. There were no bookshelves. —Come.
GK: I'll get your coat. And here, sir.
TR: The bill. Oh thanks a lot.
GK: You're welcome.
TR: Don't expect a big tip, bozo.
GK: Eighteen percent. It's included.
TR: Curses! (MUTTERS OF RAGE)
GK: A message from the Partnership of English Majors.