Monday, January 22, 2007

The Highest Praise is the Blank Stare. It Really is.

Here's my latest first-day joke to which you are welcome, college educators. For years my old standby has been stopping at that point in my syllabus where I list my home phone number to say: "If you call me after 10 p.m., one of us better be drunk."

What a crowd pleaser.

About five years ago this story acquired an added dimension when journalism student young George Sanchez called me at 3 a.m. just ... just to see. My wife picked up the phone. He asked for "Dr. Robertson." My wife laughed and laughed.

George is now a working journalist, covering education in Tucson. I could've told ya. Kid got moxie, which is Yiddish for balls.

The crowd pleaser grew in pleasure.

But some of these kids have me for more than one course, and even though I will never abandon so functional a witticism -- it always cheers me up to say it -- you have to keep refreshing your act because the kids *deserve* new material to misunderstand.

Thus, my new drollery. Let me set the scene. It's the first day of class, and I am explaining that sometimes I depart from my syllabus and that if students miss class, it is their job to discover what will happen in the following class; relying on the syllabus is no excuse if they fail to catch a sudden change in direction on my part.

Okay, then so I hold up the syllabus -- and just let me point out that I handle it in an offhand, even contemptuous way -- and I say:

I have a syllabus and I have a wife. (pause) I am *faithful* to my wife.

The howls of silence are deafening in the sense that absolute quiet makes you conscious of the roaring in your ears.

They have medicine for that now.


mackdoggy said...

Yes, remind these children that their parents (grandparents?) have sex and they will surely be unconfortable.

Whereas, they all get drunk.

david silver said...

oh my.

that's what's called a classic first-day joke.