Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm Still Not Sorry

I promised a post about a drunk asshole, didn't I? Way back in the summer, I mentioned my department was going to be having a speaker who'd interviewed me at last year's APA, and who I'd spent a good chunk of time talking to. His department (like everyone else's) didn't give me a flyout. I was going to have to go out to dinner with the guy and make with the chit-chat, and I was worried it'd be weird or awkward or humiliating or annoying. I know, I know--this sort of thing goes on all the time, and it's no big deal. But still, I'd never actually done it before and I wasn't sure what to expect. It wasn't something I was looking forward to.

I had nothing to worry about. The guy remembered exactly who I was and what I worked on, he was as personable as I remembered, and he very kindly and very discreetly complimented me on my work but explained (what I, of course, already knew) that his department decided they needed someone with a totally different set of AOSs than mine.

Actually, no, I just made that up. Although still, I had nothing to worry about.

I got to the restaurant about fifteen minutes after this guy, who I'll call the Drunk Asshole, and by that time he was already finishing his second drink. He wasn't really interested in talking to anyone at the table besides a cute VAP, who's a good friend of mine, and who's young enough to be the daughter he decided to have relatively late in life. Appetizers came, and before they were done, there were a couple more empty glasses beside DA's plate. And all the while, he couldn't take his eyes off C.VAP. Seriously. There were more than half a dozen people sitting at that table, all asking him questions about his talk, but every slurred syllable that came out of his mouth was spoken to her.

Meanwhile, C.VAP was doing her best not to puke on the table, which would have been a perfectly sane response to DA's bulgy-eyed stare, and she was shooting him these killer "Fuck Off, You Gross, Old Drunk Asshole" looks. (Presumably tenure means being able to say it out loud.) The looks were almost making it through his gin-haze, at least before he had more to drink. So at one point, DA wrenched his eyes off C.VAP long enough to peer at me, wondering why I looked vaguely familiar. "My chance!", I thought, and tried to introduce myself. But I couldn't get my whole name out before his eyes were flickering back to C.VAP, studiously avoiding her killer look by focusing well below her face. He asked what I work on (or at least, I assumed the question was for me, since he was speaking directly to C.VAP's top, which doesn't do philosophy, being, as it is, a shirt), but by the time I got through my AOSs, I gave up. There was just no hope that I'd get through a few sentences about how we'd met before, we talked about blah, blah, blah, and how was that project of his coming along? No hope at all.

Later on that night, after the senior faculty had all gone to bed, C.VAP, the Future Dr. Mrs. Dr., me, and some other people were drinking beer and making jokes at the DA's expense. And what I realized was, I can't really say I'm sorry not to be that guy's colleague.

--PGS

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

He was already finishing his SECOND drink?? Oh my God!

Americans are so funny . . .

crabby abby said...

Oh, fuck off, Anon 1:26pm. I've lived abroad long enough to know that, in polite company, in fifteen minutes, two drinks remarkable even in Europe (e.g.). No one said it was a world record -- or even an American one.

Besides, the bigger point is this: good story. Best post in a while ...

Big D said...

Are non-Americans affected differently by two drinks within a fifteen-minute time frame? Maybe I'm just not getting it.

Anonymous said...

Your cute VAP friend should have just taken one for the team and put out, if it might halp you get a job. That's what friends are for...jumping on the grenade.

Kalynne Pudner said...

I'm just glad he wasn't interviewing C.VAP for a job.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick aside - did anyone see the article in the Sunday NYT's about the increase in the number of students in philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the real world, PGS. Let me clue you in on something: Every fucking department has a dude like that (his drunkenness wasn't the issue by the way). In fact, here are some typical personalities you will encounter once you find a departmental home.

1. The Creepy Lech- This guy (always a guy) only pays attention to female undergrads and grads, and the attention is usually non-philosophical and unwelcome.
2. The Ghost-Muthafucka is never around. Never.
3. The Anachronism-This one keeps bringing up Karl Popper and has no clue about the last 20 years of philosophy.
4. The Admin Wannabe-This one lives to to serve the university (and make admin pay), hasn't published in years, wears suits all the time, can quote faculty handbook.
5.The Double-Dipper- Half time in philosophy, this one is almost never a philosopher and is happy with that fact.
6. The Adjunct Lifer- This poor sap has been adjuncting for the last 20 years and it shows.
7. The Escape Artist- This one is working like mad to publish his/her way out of the department and leave the rest of you suckers behind.
8. Kevin Bacon- Muthafucka knows everyone, and I mean everyone, and won't let you forget it.
9. The Asshole/Dick/Bitch/Shithead- This guy's mouth on the street or in a bar would get him clocked back to the 5th century, but for some reason, he (usually a he) thinks that department meetings are a safe place to dick it up.
10. The Abuser- Grad students and admin assistants are non-sentient tools to be used until broken, then discarded.

What I wouldn't give for someone with only a drinking problem.

Anonymous said...

I think anon 6:32 wishes he had his own blog with philosophers to read it, too. knocking PGS on his own thread to prop up your list is a poor way to get started.

funny story. and sad - there is no particularly good response for C.VAP. I second the motion that its a good thing he wasn't interviewing her.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the titillation of imagining CVAP held my attention so much more than my indignation over the drunken lech? Moral emotions, where are you when I need you?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like anon 6:32 dwells in a sad place. I recognize tendencies on some members of my department, but not quite at the type-level he/she portrays. And, come on, it's not as if PGS suddenly realized that some people are bad. Of course we all fucking know that there's people like that in philosophy departments and everywhere else. He was telling a good story here. So shut up.

Asstro said...

I think Anon 6:32 is about right on the characterization of various department personalities. It's a shame, but pretty much on target.

I guess the bigger issue here this: Holy shit. Kalynne, you have nine kids? How the hell do you get any work done?

Philosophy Prof said...

As superioristic and self-aggrandizing as it is to pretend that their list of faculty-types is so much more important, and that DA is somehow not as bad on a day-to-day basis than the others on the list of 10, it is certainly of some value to have a heads-up on some of the different characters that will be encountered in a department, so as to be able to navigate, etc. Another that belongs on the list is the tenured person who has no friends outside the department. If this person still craves social interaction, she uses the safety of the departmental context to troll for friends, esp. people who are beneath her in power (untenured profs., office worker, etc.). Identify this person, and AVOID!!

Anonymous said...

Good story. Thanks.

tenured philosophy girl said...

Great comic relief, PGS.

Another one for the list: The crazy old coot of a continentalist who holds forth pompously and endlessly during every single meeting and question period while everyone wonders what the heck he is talking about, and who has vague professional connections in Eastern Europe that no one understands.

This fellow is to be distinguished, of course, from the nice sane continentalists who many departments are lucky enough to have - I intend no implicit bashing of continental philosophy as a whole at all.

Anonymous said...

As long as others are adding further assholes you might find in a philosophy department to the list, I might as well. How about:

The tenured person who has become so disillusioned with philosophy that he no longer teaches it in his courses. For example, in my undergrad education, the person who taught the logic course had us read John Bradshaw's "Reclaiming Your Wounded Inner Child", and M. Scott Peck's "The Road Less Travelled". His reasoning was that it was not possible for anyone to think critically about anything until you had thought critically about yourself. (I hope he reads this post, and recognizes himself; I have something to say to him: You, my dear sir, are a douchebag!).

In the department in which I now teach, our oldest tenured person refuses to teach courses other than logic: he believes that philosophy is not a worthwhile subject, and tells all students who would like to major in it to take a real major like business management.

crabby abby said...

"I hope he reads this post, and recognizes himself; I have something to say to him: You, my dear sir, are a douchebag!"

Classic!

KateNorlock said...

LOVE this story, but what, may I ask, is a C.VAP? Answer me gently, I'm a clueless old coot.

I have had those post-interview reveries that remind me I'm glad I didn't work with the bozos. It's the only thing that makes me feel better about being an unsuccessful Escape Artist.

Anonymous said...

what, may I ask, is a C.VAP?

Cute Visiting Assistant Professor. To obtain such a position, you typically must provide "evidence of cuteness" to the search committee in the form of a cuteness dossier and a cuteness sample. Not to be confused with Acute Visiting Assistant Professor positions, although some enterprising young philosophers have found it possible to hold both positions simultaneously.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of VAPs -- are people updating the wiki? I thought decisions about these would be quick.

I left my sole doused in paprika said...

Seriously, some of you have interviews or offers for VAPs, lectureships, instructor positions, etc, but haven't updated the wiki. Could you do that please, and put the rest of us out of our misery?

Anonymous said...

Are CVAPs typically women???? Honestly, are they? What does that tell us?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 9:28 who asks,

Are CVAPs typically women???? Honestly, are they? What does that tell us?

Most VAP's, like most TT hires are men., So I assume you're asking about whether most CUTE VAP's are female. Well, hmmm. This might require me to figure out whether there even ARE any cute MALE VAP's. There are so few cute philosophers to begin with that I tend to have my doubts on this score.

But I can tell you one thing for sure: between a cute and a non-cute male VAP, I know which one I'd hire. So, brush up your acts, boys. Floss those teeth and tighten those jeans. ;-)

AFDC

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the CVAP may be partially to blame. If she dressed provocatively it is not a surprise that she received attention from drink-man. I have other thoughts on this, but I shall not continue...

Strange European Dude said...

He was "focusing well BELOW her face"??!! Oh my God!!

Americans are so funny...

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Anon. 2:00 sez,

It seems to me that the CVAP may be partially to blame. If she dressed provocatively it is not a surprise that she received attention from drink-man. I have other thoughts on this, but I shall not continue...

Seriously? That's really your reaction here?

Let's back up and see what's gone on with this comment.

Someone reads a story that offers no implication whatsoever that a woman was dressed in any way less than perfectly professionally, but in which she nevertheless had to deal with getting creeped out by the attention of a gross old guy. On the contrary, the story makes it quite clear than the creepy old guy in question was just being inappropriately creepy. What has to be going on in a readers mind to make that person assume, contrary to anything implied in the actual story that the woman was dressed in any way less than perfectly professionally? Why try so hard to read the woman's culpability between the lines, even when it's plainly not there?

Then strange eurpoean dude sez,

He was "focusing well BELOW her face"??!! Oh my God!!

Americans are so funny...


Yes, because unlike their prudish North American sisters, professional European women love having their professional colleagues treat them as less than peers in professional settings. That's why when George Bush gave that creepy, weird massage to Angela Merkel, she responded by giggling and blowing him a kiss.

Anonymous said...

I thought Strange European Dude's comment was clearly a parody of Anon 1:26.

Anonymous said...

Great story-lol.
I liked the typical departmental personalities intruduced by Anon 6:32, which I'm assuming are faculty-types.
To get a more complete picture, I'm wondering whether some faculty might like to comment on some of the grad-student-types that one might chance to meet. Here are a few that come to mind:
the prima donna
the dreamer
the lifetime-dissertator
the supervisor suck-up
the hack
the activist
the undergraduate romeo
After all, what do you imagine the selection pool for those well-rounded faculty personalities is anyway?

Kalynne Pudner said...

Asstro --

Here's your answer. With nine kids, I don't in fact get much work done; that's why I'm a VAP, and not even (blame the nine kids) a C.VAP. I don't even notice until 19 days later that someone has asked me a question on the PJMB.