I don't know what they mean. I don't see why we can't have both the "life of the mind" and our "perks." By "perks" I suppose they mean the richly-deserved and yet puny little extras we get by dint of our position and labor. You know, yeah--trips and grants and time off. That stuff.
I kind of thought the "life of the mind" was one of the perks of academia. I mean, we don't just travel--we travel to conferences and collections, where we engage in the life of the mind. We don't just get time off; we get time off to do research. I don't know a single academic who spends her or his long summers tanning on the beach at Barbados.
I personally consider getting kneewalking drunk at conferences a part of my "life of the mind." And tanning's bad for you--causes freckles. I suppose tanning is OK for those young girls on campus. Not that I look at them or anything.
But, well, now that you mention it, that could be considered another academic "perk"--the presence in our classes and on our quads of, I guess I mean intelligent young people. And yes, their slim and trim young bodies, attractively tanned and scantily attired in the warmer months, are probably a big part of the academy's draw for some professors, male and female. It's not a big deal for me, since I'm happily married, but I've heard some of my colleagues comment on it.
Gee, I'm glad for you. So few of us are happily married these days. And yes, I mean, let's just go ahead and say it--I do look at these young people. Not the girls so much. Well, a little. I mainly look at the boys. I like the ones with those cut-off jean shorts and the really tight little buns. Of course I'm not sure that's a "perk." It's just "scenery." I mean, it doesn't affect my scholarship or teaching or anything. It's like when I travel: going around in a strange city looking for drugs and sex and cheap thrills doesn't affect the way I read my conference paper or anything.
No, certainly not. Me either. It's different, of course, at least for some professors, when the students come up to them after class and offer sex and drugs for grades. Shameful, really. I'm glad it's never happened to me.
What about last week out in front of your office? Didn't that girl, what's her name--Kathy?--give you a bag of dope and a big wet kiss? I heard something about "thanks for the A" or something.
No, no, heavens! I hope you're not spreading that kind of rumor around. It was a bag of candy, chewy caramels, that's all, and I just gave her an appreciative, almost avuncular little hug. I did give her an A, of course, she is a very bright student who is going to go far in whatever field she chooses; wrote a wonderful essay for me on Heidegger's late philosophy. But the A came first; the candy and the hug were the harmless little aftermath.
You seem a little uncomfortable talking about this incident--an awful lot of explanation for something so harmless. Are you sure you just don't want to seem to like these young girls platonically because you have teenage daughters of your own and you're afraid that it will ignite some latent incestuous lust in your own body?
Why, that's preposterous! I don't know how you cook up theories like that! It's a good thing we'll get a chance to edit this before it goes in the book, because I'd just as soon nip scurrilous notions like that in the bud before the campus newspaper gets ahold of them. My interest in Kathy is purely pedagogical; the only reason I invited her to the party at Suzanne's tonight is that I thought it might be good for her to get to know some of her other professors on a social level, not think of us as quite so stuffy and dignified.
I think that if your interest in Kathy is "purely" anything, it's more like purely pedophilical rather than pedagogical. But let's not quibble about it: she does look like your daughter, Angela. And besides--is it really a good idea to invite students to faculty functions, especially Suzanne's? You remember the last time: Suzanne's old man honked in the cheese dip and began running around after that young boy from Frank's class, yanking at his pants, yelling, and drooling cocaine from his nostrils.
Do think this is what Bill and Doug wanted us to write about when they asked us to do this dialogue?
Who gives a shit? If they don't like it, or if we decide it's too revealing, we won't let them publish it. That's simple enough, don't you think?
(It was no problem to publish this, after all, even though these two both fought for months to get it deleted. See, they both died in tragic accidents not long before the case was to be settled out of court. One died from an overdose of heroin, and the other was killed in a hunting accident with his daughter: she shot him in the back, mistaking him for a moose. DR/BK)
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