The Gray-Haired Scholar


My professor is wearing an eggplant-colored knitted sweater. He always wears a shirt underneath, with the stiff collar slightly poking out. His shoes are typical stuffy leather loafers, and he pairs them with beige slacks. On his nose stand gold-rimmed glasses, and he sports a full head of gray hair. He looks dusty, as if he had been in an academic mode for decades (and I know he has). His hands are clasping a large  plastic cup  of coffee of a white colour, save for a purple handle and lid, and an orange, pink and purple drawing featuring Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto. ”Orleans Resort” is emblazoned on it. He has admitted that it is a souvenir from vacations taken with his family  at Disneyworld. Although I might be jealous of  his university-worthy salary, I think that deep down, he really takes it for granted.

He is included in my personal list of the most boring professors I have ever had the misfortune to be stuck with, which makes me wonder why he is there in the first place. He creates a distance between us, calling us ”vous”, instead of ”tu”, a rigid politeness formula that makes me regret English-language academia sometimes. He is insanely nervous, and his vibrating voice and slow speech make lectures seem even more tedious. My colleague argued that he is like a train who doesn’t stop until he has arrived at the end of his point, and that he always brings the conversation back to what he wanted to talk about in the first place.

It is absolutely accurate: he doesn’t leave enough freedom of speech to his students. Further than that, he doesn’t realize the lack of energy that he instills in his pupils, and that his entitled and vain sense of self hinders his student’s well-being, learning experience, and mutual understanding. Silent students might be studious, but nobody will hear them raging about the class. Rather, they are more likely to complain about a terrible (and asking) professor. My professor makes class hellish, and distant memories of wonderful professors delightful.

He enjoys to hear himself talk and constantly flaunts his intelligence. Sure, he listens to his student’s ideas, but all the while, he still possesses a preference for his own. When one of my colleagues began his oral presentation, my professor interrupted him right then and there: ”well, don’t start so soon. I want to make sure that I’ve still got control of the class”.

My professor seeks to control his student’s point-of-views rather than to instill in them a sense of a greater curiosity. He has a passive-aggressive personnality the other students and me don’t understand. He always stops us short in our tracks. He asks us to bring notes, and either corrects us when we speak or doesn’t let us finish. He looks at me dead in the eyes but not really, as if an honest look was too much for him to grasp. He often looks a bit below and today, I thought he was looking at my cleavage, as I was wearing a black onesie with a low neckline.

He is wearing his gold band and  has previously told us that his wife is Italian. He learned a bit of the language, ”mainly not to explode at diner”, since Italians were constantly giving him more food. This was one of the most mundane and human declarations I’ve heard from him. I also learned that one of his children is autistic, and that gave him a mysterious and sensitive side. He regularly brings his dog Lennon (named after John Lennon) to class as well, which helps with his popularity factor (and boy does he knows it).

After class, my professor will go back to his office and leave his tacky coffee cup. He will grab his leather briefcase and will put on his heavy coat. He will go outside to the parking lot, and see the sun for a minute. His shiny gray side-swept hair will flicker in the cold winter air.  He might smile at the simple fact of being outside, if only for a while. He will sift through his pockets and pick one out of his two sets of keys. Arrived at his car, he will press the button to open its doors, and a sound will be heard.

He will drive to his assuredly comfortable bourgeois townhouse, presumably one with a garden. He will be happy to see his children but weary of his son’s sickness too. His wife will probably cook for him, something homey and warm in the midst of winter. He might have a glass of wine with his diner, maybe even two. He might even enjoy a glass of whisky after his meal.

I wonder how he’s like when he’s trully himself, or when he’s having any fun. I wonder if he does have any, sometimes, besides the solace found in political science books, news and analysis. Besides being an academician, he seems like a angsty person, more so than a well-rounded one. His boredom intrigues me, his lack of social skills puzzles me.

I wonder how he’s like when he’s drunk.

Lili Monette is a born-and-raised Montrealer and an artist by DNA and by choice. She holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre and Development from Concordia University and can be found around the world entertaining people and gathering stories.

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