Mortified

Once, when I was a graduate student, I assisted an instructor who spent twenty minutes in front of the class with his fly down. He sat on a bench in front of a row of (mostly female students) with his legs apart, his fly gaping, pontificating as was his way, and nothing we could do to get his attention worked. Ultimately, a student raised their hand and said, exasperated at the show, "Dude, your fly's DOWN!"

Today, I had one of those moments - not my fly down, thankfully - but something that I'm sure was distracting to students. It was in one of my good classes, too, which is awful because losing one of the good sections to something - being known as "The Prof who..." for the rest of the term - would suck not just because of embarrassment but because the energy from the good class is what's carrying me through the sucky other classes.

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Lesley said...

Oh, you are in VERY good company with this one, I'm sure. It happens to the best of us. I mean, we're obviously very near-perfect, but we just can't be expected ALWAYS to demonstrate our perfection to our students -- then they'd just get bored. But don't worry: students forget. You didn't mention what your embarrassing act entailed, but... from experience, I can tell you that it probably wasn't as memorable as you might think. For example, the fact that I forgot to take off the "SIZE LARGE" sticker gracing the front of an ivory turtleneck sweater (umm, unfortunately placed down my chest) that I wore for the first time -- and a student came up to me at the end of class to tell me -- this is something *I* will NEVER forget. But I brought it up to said former student last spring, and she had no recollection.

So, see, there's hope. :)

September 15, 2008 at 4:29 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I do hope so. It's funny that the whole day feels derailed by it. And maybe it's problematic to be that invested in a particular course, but it's just odd how it goes sometimes.

Thinking about it earlier, I tried to think of what I'd tell someone else if it happened. That didn't really do much good, but it did at least make me pause.

September 15, 2008 at 9:04 PM
adjunct whore said...

absolutely, i'm completely invested in the good classes, even small things make me crazy.

the first part of this post made me laugh out loud--"what are you reading?" was mr. w's question--the second part just made me curious to know what mortified you.

sharing is good--this shit happens to all of us. better to demystify.

September 15, 2008 at 9:38 PM
Maggie said...

Dude, you cannot tell that half story and expect us to let it lie. WHAT DID YOU DO?

See, I'll share: When I was a graduate student, I once taught an entire class when the button had popped off my shirt in a very, er, strategic place. All the students saw was bra, but it was enough.

Now, you?

September 15, 2008 at 9:42 PM
Lesley said...

I know and empathize with your concerns -- and I hope you don't feel I was making light of it in my last comment. I was just trying to play "student/devil's advocate" and assure you that it has undoubtedly had an exponentially larger, longer lasting effect on you than it had on your students. If it was something semi-humorous, well...they'll laugh it off for a day or so and then get back to enjoying the good energy of the class that had always been there. I know how easy it is to worry about such things -- and I *definitely* relate to the worry of "losing" one of your favorite classes to a semi-ridiculous, unintentional "error." But, seriously, if the class is that great, I really doubt it would be so easy to "lose," you know? Think happy thoughts. :) I bet, this time next week, you will have forgotten ALL about it... and your students will have too. Long before.

September 15, 2008 at 10:26 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I'll confess that part of why I didn't say was that it was embarrassing to me and not particularly humorous the way the opening story was. For me, it would've been easier if it had been overtly funny somehow. I can live with that, mostly because I'll do a lot for a laugh. But I also wanted to leave it vague because then (maybe) the post would be broad enough that anyone who'd had a moment - whatever it was - could plug themselves into the relatively empty signifier that was my mortification.

And no worries, I'm still embarrassed by it and worried that it might have made the good class harder, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.

So for now, I'm not going to say, but I promise I'll post it here in a day or so, just to make sure any conversation this might generate can go where it will (and a little speculation never hurt).

September 15, 2008 at 10:38 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

Looks like the discussion is more or less ended so to satisfy the curious - and since I sold out someone's embarrassment at the beginning of a post that didn't disclose my own - what happened was essentially a strange, uncontrolled and visible attack of the sweats.

It looked like I'd just gone one on one with Jordan, or like I had mild DTs. Everytime I had to write on the board - and I do it a lot - there it was. No reason why. I hadn't played Jordan (he was golfing). No DTs (no joke here either). I wasn't particularly stressed or winded or feeling feverish. Just, evidently, doing my impression, of a camel's opposite.

September 16, 2008 at 7:38 PM