[Originally published December 15, 2010.]
I received your email about the tower you are building in the woods with a few Amish masons, and of course I understand that you’ll be unable to notify us as to what classes you’ll be teaching next semester, or when you’ll be available to meet with your advisees. With your permission, I’ll rely on last year’s schedule and again sign you up for two five-person sections of “Lyric Sexuality.” I will also schedule some extra office hours to collect mucous-soaked, germ-infected tissues from each of the suicidal girls you seem to enjoy mentoring when you are not laying stone.
I want to express my continued admiration for the six-foot square art project you completed on sabbatical in order to “branch out.” It does block the doorway to my office—thank you for your concern—and serves as something of a deterrent when my first-generation scholarship students are waiting for feedback on their Marshall applications, but it poses a powerful intervention in received ideas of “the aesthetic” and “comfort,” as your self-written gallery notes point out.
I know you won’t be able to attend the talk by the visiting scholar/groper/stalker you invited to campus, so I’ll happily shell out $60 for a sitter while I try to keep him from getting so drunk he makes slurs during the broadcast of his lecture on college radio.
I am grateful for your presence at our curriculum meeting. It was kind of you to make fifteen minutes in your busy schedule. I think we were all struck by your objections to the proposal we’ve spent two years crafting, and how you are convinced that the current program, designed by you and some venerable dead people in 1971, should stay in place. The introductory course, “Eating the Strawberry” is still relevant, and still poses a challenge to mainstream ideas of the Nixon era. Speaking of eating, I gather you enjoyed the homemade snacks I provided, since you honored me by eating all of the lemon-scented Madeleines before you had to run to dinner with the university president.
As you recall, you agreed to chair our hiring committee, but since I know you’re “bad with paperwork and deadlines” I will continue to fill out the “administrative paperwork” that amounts to reading and summarizing all 300 applications (or twelve feet of paper) for you. When we meet to discuss candidates, I will count on your voicing your commitment to affirmative action, as well as your support of young men who write about young men, unless they are too talented, in which case you’d prefer a woman who will do all of your committee work.