Saturday, July 14, 2007

The feebleminded professor

Many years ago, Seneca College made me into a Teaching Master.

That is to say, I would become a don.

That's great stuff, I decided.

People could say, as they met me at old Lady Eaton's estate, where I taught, "Hi Don."

Or, "How's it going, Don?"

I began to affect special emphasis on how I wold pronounce my esses--sibilatntly, and with a hint of a lisp, so I could pretend I'd gone to Oxford. I did manage to steal a robe from one of the regular students at Trinity College, where I had taken an extension course. All God's chillen got a robe.

Thus robed, I would stand in front of the mirror, mortarboard and all and begin to practise that studied earnestness
that dons possess: I would become a budding Mr. Chips.

But old habits persisted.

At the college, I would be called Doctor.

But at the redneck pub that I loved to frequent I was called "A**hole."

"What do virgins have for breakfast?" I had asked the young barmaid.

She gave me a smack.

Looking up from the floor, I declared through an alcoholic haze, "I guess there's no point in even discussing oral sex."

I was soon out in the street.

First day of lecturing.

Oh, what a bunch of hostile eyes.

I thought I would break the ice by saying I'd just received my MFA degree adding that it probably means Master of f--All.

"He's drunk, " somebody yelped.

And all of them were writing down everything I was saying.

What do you do when you'r digging your own hole?

I was a replacement teacher for a girl who had been teaching something called Existential Philosophy. She took her March break early so as to get in some skiing. "What can you tell me about existential philosophy, I asked Cathy before she boarded the train.

"It's absurd," she had said.
"I know its absurd," I had told her"'....And that other thing too: Nietzsche's peachy, but Sarter is smarter....But do you have any notes I can use?"

"You won't need any," she had said. "I know you are a born dramatist.

"I have supplied the course structure and you can supply the drama."

"But I know next to nothing about existentialism.

"You exist, you ARE, aren't you? You are "I" in answer to my THOU, are you not?

"That's Martin Buber!" I had said, dim memories of that great Hassid suddenly popping out of my own lecture notes.

"They don't give you your kind of paperwork out of a popcorn box," the lady prof had said confidently. Teach them about existentialism.

I began by saying that Nietzsche had said people leave marks on each other.

I saw a girl playfully scratching at the face of her neighbour.

"It is best to be alone.

"Also sprach Zarathustra, lonely on his mountain top. Listen to Zarathustra sing!

I hummed a few bars of Wagner's opener for the movie 2001.

They thought I had gone mad.

"He's drunk, he's drunk, another co-ed yelled out."

But I somehow got through the lecture.

"From Zoroastroism to Zarathustra." Surely, this was my theme.

I was winging it as I went along.

And suddenly, as I reeled off the quotations of the mad kraut, I saw the heads bobbing, and people almost saying "Amen."

At the end of the lecture, two girls came to me. One of them, a brunette said, "Hey, you could really start a cult."

"When we graduate, are we all going to be like you? She demonstrated by plowing her face into the coat rack to the right of the balackboard, as I had done in the middle of the class, while looking for notes in my overcoat.
I had upset the rack, fake fur coats and all. "Venus in Furs, I had joked, while partially introducing the class to the works of the revered Leopole von-Sacher Masoch.
"Masochism," some preacher's son yelled. "Decent!"
"Zoroastroism!" two Goth girls joinined in. "Handsome men in caves performing Mithraic rites!"

This is going to be a very interesting semester.



Josie said...

"What - do - virgins - have - for - breakfast?"

Did you really say that????

Now, there's a great pick up line.

Ivan, you are the most colorful person I know.

Josie said...

And you are the most multi-talented.

...Also not hard at all to look at. :)


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I agree Ivan, I wish I lived closer to you or at least had someone in my life like you. You just fill me up with your words.

After reading this I want to go read Satre and Nietzche. Now that says someting.

well said! said...

inside our hands, outside our hearts,

Hey, you're back. E.A. Monroe and the other Quarks--female co-conspirators of this blog--all wondered where you'd gone to.
We missed you.

I'll have a look to see if I can find your blog.


EA Monroe said...

Ivan, great post! I could picture you! Sure wish I could have sat in on your classes and lectures! I've been reading Josie's favorite Cannery Row. She's right. This is like something right out of Steinbeck's Cannery Row when the boys went frogin' and decided to give Doc a surprise party.

the walking man said...

Seriously what does a virgin have for breakfast?

inquiring minds want to know what my daughter was having before she got pregnant on her first journey into sex? said...

Thanks Liz,

Oops! You just reminded me to get to a library and get those Steinbeck back numbers.
I'm still undecided on a biography of C.S. Lewis.

Did he write better after marrying divorcee Joy Davidman, or worse?
He certainly seemed a much happier man after he married. No more pints with the boys at The Kilns.

Ah well. I'll pick up Cannaery Row in the meantime.

Ivan said...

Hello walking man!

It's one of life's mysteries.

I picked up the phrase in the Service. I suppose if the poor girl who is asked says "I don't know," it shows she's not a virgin.
...If she tells you what she had for breakfast she is a virgin?
As for the "plight", my sympathies.

My own daughter went to a feminist university here (Glendon York), where I presume she learned to hate men and their ways.
...Didn't stop her from geting a live-in boyfriend straight off.
...Good thing I like the guy.


http;// said...

Many years ago, I met a beautiful woman just out of therapy.

She said she was a "rescuer".

Well, she rescued me out of a condition of loneliness I was going through; I had, for some reason, left my wife.

She did rescue me from loneliness, despair, alcoholism.

But the complications of the invitable divorce.

Sometimes I worry about women of the rescuer type.

I am sure, however, that she moved on. Probably saw a hand out on the horizon.

Ivan said...


That was meant for "inside our hands, outside our hearts".

I tried and tried again to put the above comment into "inside"'s new blog, where she says she has been tagged... Kept getting kicked off.

Sometimes I think Google and William Hung should uh, hang around together.


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


I was making over my emotional being blog. It is up and should have the first post for it tomorrow. I have a couple other blogs up as well. Breathe Beautiful and About me, I have been tagged. I look forward to seeing you again.

I am flattered to be missed. Thank you and the others ... it means a lot. said...

You were missed by the quarks.
Me too, the "anti-quark".

Ivan said...


I did post a comment on your site
this morning (or tried to).

It somehow ended up on James Googman's blog (He's the guy who fostered the last meme).

I think I am losing my mind.

More likely, you are still rebuilding your blogs.


EA Monroe said...

Ivan! How did you manage to leave a comment for "inside" and get it all the way over to James blog?! Sometimes, I've noticed that when I go to check out a link from your blog, their blog comes up under your blog's header!!

I think you must be plotting world-blog domination. Never mind that feebleminded professor bit! It's a ruse!

Dwight's Writing Manifesto who posted a comment over at my place wrote an excellent post on his blog today. You might enjoy checking it out! ~Liz said...


I really am the feebleminded professor, though here and there are moments of clarity.
World domination? Heh.

Lookee here:

As the night falls on an unnamed industrial park, two inhabitants of Acme Labs (tm) awaken and begin to go about their business. Brain tinkers in the lab while Pinky mindlessly sits in front of the TV.
"Hey Brain, this television news show here just said that 90% of the world's computers use Microsoft (tm) products! Narf!"

Brain's ears perk up and an evil grin appears across his face: "Pinky, Are you pondering what I am pondering?"

"I think so, Brain, but hasn't the world had enough of Tony Danza in a situation comedy?"

Brain slaps Pinky and explains. "If we could take over Microsoft, then we could control 90% of the world's computers, and thus, THE WORLD!" Brain hurries off to work out the details of tonight's project.

Unbeknownst to Brain, another attempt is being made at taking over Microsoft, and thus the world. However, this attempt comes from within Microsoft itself. Enter Dogbert, management consultant. Dogbert, who has finally decided the the world is worthy of him as a ruler, has spent all night drawing up new org charts, project flowcharts, and management policies. With these new materials, and the current non-existent management skills of Microsoft, the takeover of the world is at hand!

...Well, at least I'm good at cutting and pasting (don't know where I got the above--like I don't know how my comment to "inside" got into James Goodman's blog) :)

I'll check out Dwight's writing manifesto in a moment.

Ivan said...

p.s. to Liz,

Dwight's Writing Manifesto is good, very good!
Want to break his fingers.

Dogbert says destroy him! :)

Ivan said...

Why do I think Dwight's Writing Manisfesto is good?

Check this out, from his blog:

...This is the nature of redheads. They enter the pupae stage later than other kids. They stay in the awkward, coltish phase of pre-pubescence longer. When other kids start blossoming into adulthood, redheads seem to get more goofy and awkward by the day. Once they finally make the turn and bloom into adolescents, redheads (in my humble opinion) are more beautiful, tend to look younger than their years well into middle age, and they also seem to perpetually struggle with their sense of self. They win the long-term genetics lottery, but their ego remains stuck in at that developmental point in junior high when they were invisible to the opposite sex. My Beautiful Wife is a stone fox, and the only person who doesn't seem to know that My Beautiful Wife is a stone fox is My Beautiful Wife. People wonder what she's doing with a smoodge like me. Heck I wonder what she's doing with a smoodge like me. I can only shrug and assume that I'm the beneficiary of hazy redhead ego goggles. I'm a lucky, lucky man. God bless the baffling pathology of redheads

My ex-wife was a redhead!


EA Monroe said...

Ivan, I think we are going to have to throw a "schmoozing" party this weekend and invite all our blogging friends! What better way to "schmooze!"

Josie said...

Our whole family are redheads.
Our whole family is redheads?
Our whole family is redhead?

Which is correct... I don't know.

Schmooze party at Ivan's place.

islandgrovepress said...

Wonderful stuff Liz and Josio.

Good news always comes when you're three sheets to the wind.

I have just put away a case of l2 and though glad of the schmooze, it looks like I'm heading for a snooze.

Should be more or less copasetic in the morning...Now Josie can check me on the spelling of copasetic. Copasthetic?

Belch! Backfire!

Darn beer. An entire consignment of Stella Artois beer has been laced with anti-freeze here in Ontairo.

Heaven forbid I should have had the bad shipment.

A well.

Canada once had an aircraft carrier whose name was the Bonavinture.

They too, had some Artois beer.

Maybe that's what sank the carrier!


Josie said...


HMCS Bonaventure

Okay, now I'm just showing off. Ha!

benjibopper said...

funniest post i've read in some time. said...

Thanks benjibopper,

I enjoy reading your stories.

Ivan said...


If I can't spell it, I can always talk about it.

Here is what some Oxford guy says:

Fine, excellent, going just right.

It’s possible that this word has created more column inches of speculation in the USA than any other apart from OK. It’s rare to the point of invisibility outside North America. People mostly become aware of it in the sixties as a result of the US space program — it’s very much a Right Stuff kind of word. But even in the USA it doesn’t have the circulation it did thirty years ago. Dictionaries are cautious about attributing a source for it, reasonably so, as there are at least five competing explanations, with no very good evidence for any of them.

One suggestion that’s commonly put forward is that it was originally a word of the African-American community in the USA. The name of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a famous black tap-dancer, singer and actor of the period round the turn of the twentieth century is commonly linked to this belief about its origin. Indeed, he claimed to have invented it as a shoeshine boy in Richmond. But other blacks, especially Southerners, said later that they had heard it earlier than Mr Robinson’s day. But he certainly did a lot to popularise the word.

A more frequent explanation is that it derives from one of two Hebrew expressions, hakol b’seder, “all is in order”, or kol b’tzedek, “all with justice”, which it is suggested were introduced into the USA by Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants. Yet other accounts say it derives from a Chinook word copasenee, “everything is satisfactory”, once used on the waterways of Washington State, or from the French coupersetique, from couper, “to strike”, or from the French phrase copain(s) c’est ├ępatant! (“buddy(s), that’s great!”), or, in a hugely strained derivation, from the cop is on the settee, supposedly a hoodlum term used to describe a policeman who was not actively watching out for crime, and so one who was OK.

In the absence of further evidence, which may now never be forthcoming, none of these suggestions can be definitely disregarded, though most are extremely implausible.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2007. All rights reserved. Contact the author if you want to reproduce this piece, but first see our advice page, which also has notes about linking. Your comments and corrections are welcome.
Page created 6 February 1999; last updated 26 March 2005.

My own research says the word originated with a Roman legionnaire named COPAS.

Hm. I'm not sure if any one of us is the wiser after all this.

I'd try etymology, but this is starting to bore me already.

Ivan said...

HMCS Bonaventure. Right.

It was eventually sold for scrap.
...Which is to bad. Just last year we really could have used an aircraft carrier to send soldiers places.
the drinking incident I speak of involved a hal-dozen sailors who drained the radiator of a fork lift
and got a glycol high that sent them straight to heaven.
I thought they had a rum-toddy time every day in the Canadian navy!
I wonder why they got into the anti-freeze.


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