My faith in science tells me there must be a reason for the sudden, precipitous drop in my IQ when I’m around The Chair of an English Department. A mathematical formula or a scientific theory to explain it. An inverse proportion or hypothesis to account for my inability to think or speak when a Chair is within earshot.
I know the scientific method begins with an observation of phenomena. Allow me to present
Phenomenon 1: While working on my MA, I attend a faculty/staff/TA back-to-school get together. I enter a conversation wherein The Chair and two of my professors are discussing a recent news piece detailing the ignorance of “today’s youth.” Seems said youth can’t name the three branches of government. Even before the three look to me for proof that I’m not that stupid, I start to sweat. Uh, judicial, legislative… ….. …..
And then a wave of shame.
The Chair gives a queasy half smile before helping me.
I depart in search of wine and an instrument for self-flagellation.
Phenomenon 2: Yesterday. I’m sitting in a meeting with three of my professors and The Chair. We’re debating whether or not a prospective job candidate is really interested in a position at my school. Is this person “flirting” with us to increase her/his chances for tenure somewhere else? Or is she/he genuinely interested in making a career move? I’m optimistic. I state my reasons, ending with “Besides, ___________ (the town where she/he is currently teaching) smells bad.”
As the words we’re leaving my mouth, I realized my mistake. Too late, though—exposed again.
I suppose it would be unseemly for me to show up to my own job interviews with a sock in my mouth; however, the thought has crossed my mind.