Monday, July 21, 2008

I always enjoy that look

Sometime before Independence Day, a lad and I got to chatting. He tells me that due to my "ethnicity", it was pre determined by my professor [who shall go nameless] that I will fail his course. It seems that Jack [I did not say how long he shall go nameless- consider this a warning] decides, in consult with the dean of the graduate school, who passes and who doesn't, well before the student shows up for class. The deciding factor, according to Jack's colleague, is whether the student has the right ethnic makeup to earn a doctorate. An interesting methodology and one I did not learn about when doing my Masters in Education.

Not being totally bereft of brains, I put the "ethnicity" thing and the failing mark together and came to the conclusion that Jack D. [seriously, pay attention] doesn't like my schnoz. And so, for the second time in my life, I'm going to harp on the yid thing.

The first time was in the tenth grade, when I took a class- temporarily- from a lad named Chuck Yeager. Chuck bore a smile that seemed fixed to his face with nails and an attitude that conveyed the sort of insincere hospitality many down here are famous for. When not mocking my accent, he would call on me every chance he could. Surprisingly, my grades went from D's and F's to B's when I finally put my foot down and changed classes.

Putting my foot down with Jack D. was not an option, hailing as he does, from an old line Sicilian family around New Orleans and thinking that he owns the department by birthright. Also, he had the neat setup where only he taught the course required to graduate. I went in, knowing before I ever did, that I would fail. I knew this because his very first [electronic] words to me inquired about where I am from and he called me "son". I was sorely tempted to let him know that unless he hung out at the socialist housing blocks of Budapest in the late 1970s', it was highly unlikely that we were filial relations. I had also considered telling him that I was not his boy, kid, little fella, fella, or any such endearments but I held my tongue. [Yes, even I can hold my tongue.]

I also knew this because I decided to take his temperature in advance and send him a bit of research which got me an A in my masters program. Not surprisingly, he called it unpublishable drivel. So I bucked up for an F.

Ten weeks go by. No grades. At all. Then, one day before the end of the semester, I get a D. Not cool in grad school. I get a dismissal letter 3 days later. Then I find out that the department chair is no longer the chair. Then the phone call. With names.

So now, I use brutally honest shorthand:

"Are you in school?"
"How come?"
"I got kicked out because a prof failed me since I'm Jewish."

And that, is when I get the look.
There are actually two looks. The first look is sympathetic. The second is astounded. It's the second one that I enjoy. Where their heads whip around, their eyes widen and they just...look.

"No way."





Some kids are more worldly than others. Not surprisingly in the deep south, the worldly kids tend to be black.


"I can believe it."

"Yeah I totally see that happening."

I enjoy the look. Maybe because I'm a cruel bastard who enjoys disillusioning the youth of today. Or maybe because being disillusioned is a necessity at times.

No comments: