Enter your academic supervisor’s office.
Do not make eye contact for fear that it may send a non-verbal cue to flirt.
Do not flutter eyelids while looking down at floor because fluttering eyelids may be perceived as a non-verbal flirting cue.
Do not make any movements like wiggling a foot, fiddling with bracelet, etc. that may be perceived as a non-verbal flirting cue.
Cross legs. Keep your body rigid in seat.
Pull at shirt collar in order to keep any skin from being exposed. Do not invite breasts getting unwanted attention from the worst guy possible.
Spend time worrying that pulling on shirt collar will be misinterpreted as a non-verbal flirting cue.
Nod head vigorously. Make uncomfortable yeah, yeah, uh huh hmm sounds while supervisor discusses his loneliness and need for companionship although he is actually living with a former MA student who is now the mother of his two children (she dropped out of the graduate program, unnoticed, many years ago).
Make an empathetic frown, sigh quietly, or tilt head in the direction of your supervisor. Feign your devotion to the act of listening to him as he whines about being desperate for intellectual company.
Pretend you did not hear him invite you to a film next week.
Reconsider the act of pretending not to hear the movie invite. Going to the film may be the best chance you will have to discuss your thesis, which your academic supervisor is actually being paid to supervise.
Say yes to the movie.
Chastise yourself for saying yes.
Mention you have a boyfriend so that aforesaid supervisor thinks you are dating someone when he asks you straight up if you are dating someone.
Name your imaginary boyfriend. Choose “Rob” because it is generic and more believable than, say, “Rupert” or “Willington.”
Say that your imaginary boyfriend is a Rhodes scholar and engineer.
Praise yourself for having such a smart boyfriend!
Tell your supervisor that “Rob” may be trying to call you in a few minutes when your supervisor asks you if you have any plans tonight.
Take phone out of your bag. Say that “Rob” just texted you to say that he will be calling you later.
Politely accept the invitation to a local bar even though you do not want to go to the local bar. Leaving now, however, would mean not talking about your thesis.
Get angry with yourself that you have accepted the invitation to drink.
During the walk to the bar, listen to your supervisor complain that his wife offers no intellectual stimulation and can only talk about her C-section scars.
Listen attentively to him describe how hard life can be as a married man with tenure.
Spend time torturing yourself in what is becoming a psychological minefield of self-doubt, now that you are fully entangled in a pre-industrial-era-academic-mentoring-type relationship in which a man who is asking you out on dates can write a letter that determines your entire future while you have five digits worth of student debt and an imaginary boyfriend.
Think about how you are a modern serf.
Weigh the odds that your lecherous professor will make, or not make, an actual move on you as you walk to the bar with your legs still crossed, clutching your collar, while trying not to fiddle with bracelet, your eyes cast downward in order to not make eye contact, holding knapsack and phone with imaginary texts from “Rob”.
Tell yourself to not enter the bar.
Tell yourself to enter the bar. It is the only way you may be able to get supervision!
Sit rigidly on a barstool. Hold books in front of you, including a monograph on Elizabethan chronographia, one on women abolitionists, and a slim, rather enchanting essay offering a unique postmodern analysis of Quaker society, to create an illusion of physical distance.
Listen intently, head tilted forward, while your supervisor talks about how he finds you “so intriguing.”
Enter into a state of emotional self-flagellation because you decided to wear a minidress.
Have quick psychological battle with yourself about your Madonna/whore complex.
Remember that it was your mother who bought you the minidress. Fashion is often on a 20-year cycle and every two decades or so women around the world are wearing minidresses in every workplace; trying to look sassy every now and then is not an actual crime.
Listen to yourself giggling awkwardly while your supervisor says that he really loves talking with you when actually all you have wanted to do for the past year is talk, talk, talk about your thesis.
Keep smiling as he compliments your “style”.
Question yourself: is he talking about your hairstyle, clothing, or writing style? Probably not writing style, because he has never actually read any of your writing.
Attempt to change the conversation to your criticism of Judith Butler’s book Gender Trouble.
Reluctantly try to compliment him, in an effort to bring academic work back into the conversation. He’s read Judith Butler! He’s a committed feminist. Let him know that ratemyprofessors.com has assigned him the hot banana pepper symbol because of commitment to feminist values. The undergrads think he is wonderful!
Be polite. Say “thank you” when he says that a conference paper you gave was excellent. He wants to work on a paper with you even if he has not yet procured funding yet to pay for your research. Would you start the work tonight?
Say “yes.” Telling him no means not procuring a reference letter.
As he leans closer and puts his hands on your shoulders, telling you that you “seem tense” and tries to massage your back, make sure your body stays rigid.
Apologize when your supervisor gets annoyed that you are not responding enthusiastically to his massages.
Try to articulate how tired and stressed you are. You would feel less stressed if you had feedback on your thesis.
Pretend that you don’t notice your professor pretending that he did not hear your request to talk about your thesis as he rubs your shoulders.
Smile when he offers you a ride home. You need to get home from this suburban satellite campus where the only bus runs once every two hours.
Be cheerful. You are not sure if you will ever end up talking about your thesis. But you have lived with many disappointments before.
Tolerate physical contact. You can handle his arms on your shoulders as you walk to the car. The cost of legal bills for not pretending that this is not happening is more expensive than paying to be supervised by someone who is not actually supervising you.
Play imaginary games. As he fondles your knee in the car while operating the stick shift, pretend that he is not fondling your knee as he then proceeds to tell you he has lost all interest in his wife, the forgotten student who has had two C-sections, and that he craves intellectual companionship and expressing himself sexually with someone with fewer pelvic scars.
Nod head emphatically. Agree with him that he certainly seems to have needs.
Clutch the book about Quakers that has a woman in a Quaker dress on the cover.
Imagine yourself dressed as a Quaker.
Think about joining the Quakers.
When you finally arrive at your place, quickly get out of the car, thank him for the ride, and shut the car door before he can ask about coming in for a coffee.
Walk to your front door. Unlock the door. Enter your apartment. Open your laptop. Email your supervisor to request yet another meeting in order to discuss your thesis. He will respond by inviting you for a coffee.
Tell him “yes” and start the cycle again. This time, however, bring along the Quakers.