Thursday, September 22, 2011

Old Home Week

Hi! Long time no write here! Thanks for returning with me...can't say how often I'll post now that I'm in school again, but I hope to be at least as prolific as I was in 2010 :)

One of my new professors is an alum of the same college as I, the University of Chicago. I knew this because I read his bio, and at the new student/faculty potluck, I bounded over to him to, well, basically interview him about his experience there and regale him, unsolicited, with mine. (I was there for undergrad, '97-'01; he was there for a PhD, '98-'05). Despite my eagerness/earnestness about meeting a fellow U of C-er (Alumni Association, take note: I REFUSE to refer to this school as "Chicago," the way you would like us to in your recent-ish re-branding campaign. Chicago, to quote Sandburg, is big-shouldered. You U of C, wonderful and flawed as you are, really aren't that wide), I think I comported myself reasonably well.

But as I was leaving his office hours today, I couldn't resist asking, "Were you there when Homi Bhabha and Toni Morrison got stuck in the Classics building elevator?" Homi Bhabha was (still is, but he decamped to Harvard not long after the elevator incident) a renowned theorist. My friend Katherine liked to say his name and wave her hands around to show what a big deal he other people who actually, you know, had read him or taken classes with him (I don't know if he even taught undergrads). And Toni Morrison was a visiting professor one quarter and was similarly unreachable to us. So this elevator snafu was a minor amazement for Katherine and me, that two such luminaries could be so...stymied. I think I might have even saved the little blurb that ran about it in the campus paper.

Maybe it wasn't the most professional way to exit a professor's office. But
there's just so few people in the world I can ask that of! And fewer still who will answer with a satisfying, "Yes." I couldn't resist the chance to combine history, nerdiness, and inside-baseball glee. There should really be a name for alumni connections that, however trivial, are so precise as to make you feel like yes, I really was there. A lifetime ago, I was a student there.