Thursday, October 23, 2008

Feeling a little long (and blue) in the tooth

When I was in college, I went to my professor's office to discuss a grade he'd given me on a paper. It was a B and I really felt in my heart of hearts that it should have been an A. It took guts for me to enter his private office. Even in college, it felt a little weird for me to see my teachers in any realm outside of the classroom. This professor's office may have been close to the classroom in proximity but the family photos on the desk made it feel akin to walking into his living room. And since our relationship was always: You lecture to me, I take notes and study your every word; finding equal footing was difficult. Finding equal footing while pleading for mercy fairness in grading was not going to happen. I had just broached the subject of my paper when his phone rang. I quickly gathered it was his wife. His body language clearly said he was upset. He rolled his eyes, he threw his head back, he ran his hands through his hair. Finally he screamed,

"Well, you tell Audrey, that under NO circumstances is she to have her BOYFRIEND in her BEDROOM!"

I tried to slink down a little farther in my seat.

"We've got to set some boundaries here and I think the BEDROOM is a reasonable spot!"

I wondered if I should come back at another time.

"You tell her that I could care less if their feet are always on the floor. She's an immature teenager and he's a PUNK!"

I stared at the books on his shelf, obviously so engrossed in the titles that I wasn't hearing a word.

"Under NO circumstances are you to let her walk out that door with him! I WILL NOT ALLOW IT!"

I quietly slid my paper off the desk and tried to sneak out.

"He's taking her on his MOTORCYCLE? Look, there's a student here. I'll be home as soon as I can."

He hung up the phone, took a deep breath, smoothed his hair and instantly morphed back into composed professor of fine literature. "Now, let's take a look at that paper......"

It was a phone conversation that stands out in my mind as one in which I was an awkward witness. I shouldn't have been there. I shouldn't have known anything about Audrey and her punk boyfriend. I was an extra person in a private space behind a closed door where this man could normally have these types of closed-door conversations.

With the seemingly universal use of the cell phone, does anyone still have closed-door phone conversations? If they do, they must be like plotting a murder or something because otherwise I've pretty much heard it on any given day in Target. But I've adapted to cell phones. At least I'm not in a confined space with my professor; I'm usually in a pretty open environment where I can wander a respectable distance away while still hearing the juicy details. It makes for interesting shopping.

The new learning curve for me is the whole Blue Tooth technology, wearing-your-cell-phone-on-your-ear trend because now not only do I hear the conversation, I think they're talking to me and I respond. This happened last night at Barnes and Noble.

"Hey, How ARE you?"

"Good, thanks. Just getting away from the house for a bit.....oh sorry, you're on the phone....didn't notice..."

Then I feel embarrassed. But I ask you, why should I be the one who's embarrassed? I took the high road and assumed that this person with no visible communication device was talking to me rather than just talking to herself. That was nice of me, right? This also happened in the produce department at Albertsons.

"What are you making for dinner tonight?"

"I'm actually trying out a new stir-fry recipe......oh, sorry."

Embarrassed once again. I would guess that new users of the concealed cell phone must have a period of adjustment. If it were me, I'm quite sure I'd hold my hand to my ear just to emphasize the presence of the phone, which I realize is defeating the whole purpose of hands-free technology. So I'm pretty sure Blue Tooth phones are not in my immediate future. If I appear to be talking to myself in the grocery store, you'll know it's the real deal. Time for you to be a friend and make a phone call. Make a phone call to the mental hospital on your concealed phone. Make a phone call to the mental hospital on your concealed phone while the person picking out cantaloupe thinks you're talking to them, and everyone else is just listening. Because a phone call to the nut house used to be a closed-door conversation, but now it's probably not.

*As a side note, I DID get my grade changed to an A. And I'm sure it was because I deserved it, not because I had somewhat scandalous information (we were at BYU after all) regarding the offspring of a certain Comparative Lit. professor.

*And on a personal note, to my dear friend KT, the rebellious daughter really was named Audrey. I'm sure all other Audreys are paragons of virture and very unlikely to cause their parents even a moment's grief.


Lisa said...

I'm CERTAIN you deserved an A. Anyone reading your blog could verify that. AND don't worry. I would never talk on a bluetooth with you around. They can't work on me becuase apparently, I have huge earholes. Bummer.

Nikki said...

This has happened to me at Target, too. Except it was in the ladies' room and the girl in the next stall was multi-tasking evidently -- except she wasn't using blue-tooth technology. I kind of now have issues with using other people's cell phones since I clearly have no idea where their little phone has been!
You won't find a blue tooth on my head, either. I have no desire to emulate Star Trek fashion with an accessory that gives constant public access to my familial conversations. I can just imagine: "Did you REALLY flush and wash?" What would the poor soul next to me in line say after all?

Anonymous said...

Eileen, I've enjoyed reading your thoughtful, well-written blog. I'm sure our paths must have crossed at some point, because you look familiar to me. I am a comparative literature B.A & M.A who is on her second sojourn in Iowa City. Ask KT about me. (And I really am curious about which professor this was!)