Saturday, October 12, 2013

"The Ice Cream Man." RYS Flashback to a Ring of DistinKtion Honoree. 7 Years Ago Today.

I was at a party with about 20 undergrads. I must confess I had more than one drink that evening. For some reason I crave ice cream when under the influence of alcohol. I immediately began my search for someone at the party who also wanted ice cream at one in the morning AND was sober enough to drive to Dairy Queen.

The only person who satisfied both of these conditions was Marisol, a student of mine. Unfortunately, no one else at the party was interested in joining us. I was a little hesitant to go with her without a "chaperone," because in a small town it's possible that we would be seen together and the rumors would begin to fly. But I figured, "What the hell!"

When we arrived at Dairy Queen and exited Marisol's car, Dairy Queen had just locked their doors for the evening. In my frustration I exclaimed, "I want ice cream!" Right as I was saying this a bit too loudly, a crowd of students turned the corner - one of whom was enrolled in another of my classes. The student immediately started whispering to her friends, I assume something along the lines of, "Hey, look. That's my professor!" They all started to giggle. As if that wasn't strange enough, here's what happened next.

I made the suggestion to Marisol that instead of giving up, we could go to the 24-hour grocery store and pick up a pint or two of Ben & Jerry's. Sure enough, after taking two steps into the grocery store we immediately ran into two other female students from Marisol's class. Looks of terror immediately appeared on their faces. I imagine they were thinking, "Oh my god, our professor and a girl from class are going to the grocery store together at 1 AM on a Saturday night... something is very, very wrong with this picture."

What does a professor do in this situation? Hiding behind the stack of soup cans was no longer an option. So my response to their horrified faces was to smile and say, "Hey, you're in our class too! How ya doin' tonight?" They were too shocked to respond. Luckily, no scandalous rumors ever started.

My advice to faculty going to a student party - bring ice cream!


  1. Back when this first came out, I thought this guy had poor judgment. I still do.

    My advice to faculty going to a student party: don't.

  2. Well spotted, Frod. I didn't think many readers would see the subtle poor judgment exhibited by this professor.


    1. Looks like Cal fucked up. Above my comment you'll see proof positive that Cal is also Hiram. Everyone knows he's also Fab, Leslie K, Beaker Ben, Angry Archie (who he retired when I outed him months ago), and several others.

      I predict this comment will be taken down shortly once he realizes he's let the cat out of the bag.

      And in the comment above, you can tell by his mockery of Froderick Frankenstein that Cal is also the one behind all the fake crisis! Whenever the page count goes down to 20 hits a week he stirs up a fake controversy. I'd bet most of the comments that follow will be his as well.

      Disgraceful. Those people you allude to in your post Cal / Hiram, leave because, like me, they see the disingenuousness of this page, the outright dishonesty.

      You make ALL professors look bad, when it's really just one failed, angry crank who probably teaches at Utah Community College and feels like a failure.


    2. Eek! Honest Prof, it's been AGES. Where have you been?

      Can you post the quote that set you off? Because I think we all want to hear more about how you foiled Cal and uncovered his secret.

    3. Hey, dipshit h-p, who am I then? I thought I was Cal. He's so strong. He'd so sexy.

      Man, all the crazzies are out this morning!

    4. It's possible that CM is a long-running semi-participatory experimental fiction, with the majority of the content created by one person (probably Cal, who certainly has the skills for it). If that turned out to be the case, I'd be surprised (obviously, I've bought into the illusion), but not disappointed or horrified. If it's a fiction, it's a clever, well-done, and even, dare I say, useful one.

      I'm still wondering what the continuity error Honest_Prof claims to have spotted is. The only odd thing I see is that Hiram seems to be up rather early on a Saturday morning (or late on a Friday night). Frod is up late/early, too, but it's already well-established that his persona, in keeping with its field of study, is basically nocturnal.

    5. According to our IP info the h_p up top there is not the real one. He really has not been around in a while. Still, he's remembered and much beloved.

    6. And, of course, Hiram isn't up as early as it seems, since he's on Eastern time, and the blog is on Mountain time (I think -- presumably something in keeping with the compound's current Utah location).

    7. I love you, Cassandra! You've gotten to the bottom of the ruse.

      It's no surprise that there are a few of us who tend to keep the page going, even if only one is officially moderating at a time. And, oddly, the 4 people who do the majority of the work are in 4 different time zones. Leslie K, Cal, Fab, and Terry P (aka Gordon Presto).

      Cal keeps very odd hours though, and the Pacific Time person is a late riser. So it all evens out.

    8. Cassandra, I sure as hell hope this whole blog isn't a St. Elsewhere type scenario.

    9. I think it's disgraceful that the honest_profs of this world never mention Proffie Galore. Who the hell do they think I am?

    10. Now I'm worried if my hours are odd or not. Or not odd enough. What kind of hours do vampires keep? Or the undead? Or George Clooney? Or Joe Strummer? Would you think their hours odd?

      I get email from Cal at 4 am his time all the time. That's just nutty.

    11. @Proffie G: I don't think honest_prof (or, perhaps, whoever is playing h_p at the moment; it's also possible, of course, that the original is traveling) notices women (or people who present as female on this blog) at all. Leslie K is apparently an exception (honorary male, because conspicuously in charge?), but she also seems to get a good deal of flak with a more or less obvious misogynist edge.

      @Poopiehead: I don't remember that particular episode of St E (though I'm certainly old enough to have watched the series more or less as it unfolded -- in reruns over the summer, actually, since I didn't have a TV at college). But I can assure that I'm an actual, individual person (or at least I think I am, or I'm determined to maintain the illusion, or something.

    12. It is an interesting dynamic, isn't it? When I first got involved in the blog, I was sort of stunned to realize how many community members there were / are. Getting that email password for the time I was moderator (which you probably know was fairly short), was a wake up call. Now it's been many many moons since I did any actual email or page moderation, and it feels MUCH smaller. But during the time I was reading mail and dealing with questions and, uh, complaints, it seemed like a great mass of folks.

      I was relieved of my duties after a time, and I always felt bad I didn't stay on longer. I truly don't know how Fab and Leslie K do it.

      I am an outlier, and I think to some extent so is Cal. We have small jobs we do for the page, but Cal and Leslie have always done the heavy lifting.

      But I'm grateful the community exists, warts and all.

    13. Hey, assuming I'm not actually Terry P / Gordon Presto, let me say this. Use our search tool in the sidebar to search "gordon presto." He was a great moderator and did some good stuff. Funny guy, too.

      A couple of times a month I chat with him on Skype (same with Fab and Les), and Terry/Gordon is a crack up.

      Now, he was the shortest-serving mod, let me just say, but I'd never bring that up in public.

      Go Bruins.

    14. Everybody knows I'm not real.

      And, Cal's a Sun Devil, so I'd guess he's just ribbing Terry P. about his own alma mater. I mean if we're getting points for figuring things out.

      Everyone knows where I'm from. Hook 'Em.

      But we're really all Wildcats here in Ogden.

    15. How am I going to get to sleep now that I'm thinking about Cal skyping half-naked?

    16. My theory: signs of life (some new contributors) this week brought out the crazies (whether they're old crazies or new crazies pretending to be old ones). Hope they're not interrupting the mods' golf games, wedding planning, songwriting and/or professional work too badly.

      @Bubba: dare I suggest bourbon? But I assume you've already thought of that.

    17. True. Cal skypes half naked. The wrong half.

      And an aside: for all the mod misery, we still get a kick out of the page. There are so many great folks, the ones who are visible on the page and scores of "others" whose relationship with CM is wholly through email. (There are some who are active both ways, and we love you all equally. Except for Walt. He knows what we think of him.)


    18. PS: I wish Leslie was around. She is the best at ratting out the other mods and has a great memory for some if the nuttier mythology.

  3. What would really be fun on this one is an update. It's been seven years (probably more). So did the author wise up, stop taking stupid chances, and earn tenure? Did he not wise up, keep taking stupid chances, and still get tenure? Or is he working at the Dairy Queen himself? Anybody want to manufacture other alternative scenarios?

  4. Cal told me. Well, I am Cal, too, so I told myself, and I told Hiram, who's also me, that 6 different photos went into making today's graphic.

    And I said, "Never has so much been done for so little, unless you count being a college professor. Ba DUM dum."

    I'll be here all week. (Like where else can I go?)


  5. At some small colleges in small towns, faculty and staff are encouraged by administration to attend student parties (on-campus and off-campus). I have witnessed and participated in such parties.

    Generally, there are informal "rules" for the employees (e.g., Don't go alone, Don't get drunk), but sometimes the rules get bent or broken. The most important thing is to trust the employee. If you don't trust the employee, then you're fucked regardless.

    For those who say that even a trusted proffie should never be alone with a student or drink with a student or do this or do that... well, life is not so simple. There are some fantastic little colleges that have taverns on their campuses where proffies go to drink with their students without the provost policing the joint.

    I have worked at schools that have many thousands of pages of rules, but I prefer working at schools where the employees are smart, trustworthy, compassionate, discerning, kind, curious, empathetic, and courageous. Are the two mutually exclusive? Judge for yourself.

    1. I have heard of this -- a sort of built-in chaperone system where professors act like nannies in order to calm down helicopter parents, especially at liberal arts places.

      Nevertheless, if I were working at such a place, I would NEVER drink while watching the chilluns get their freak on.

      And that's saying a lot, as I love to drink.

    2. On-campus taverns strike me as a good idea (as does lowering the drinking age to 18, or maybe even 16 -- accompanied by some very draconian drinking-and-driving laws, especially but not exclusively for those in their teens and twenties). There's a lot to be said for a sanctioned space for civilized proffie-student (and student-student) socializing. Coffee shops can serve some of the same purpose, but it's not quite the same thing, I realize.

      Proffies attending your average undergrad weekend-evening party strike me as a bad idea (as does expecting proffies to supervise such activities; it's all about boundaries, and that isn't -- or shouldn't be -- in the job description). Proffies and undergrads inviting each other for civilized dinner parties, afternoon tea, or even cocktails (where legal) sounds fine, but, really, proffies and students ought to do their best to maintain for each other the illusion that they are well-behaved adults, and chances of succeeding at that decline considerably past 10 p.m. and/or with the appearance of a keg and red silo cups.

      Of course I'm a fuddy-duddy, tend to be in bed by 10 p.m., and am an introvert who wouldn't survive a semester at a place built on the assumption that educations starts with students and professors knowing each other as whole people (I'm interested first in my students' ideas, which doesn't strike me as such a bad thing in a college professor. Also, while I care a great deal about the relatively small number of people to whom I am close, I just can't connect on that same level with dozens of students at a time, semester after semester. Maybe some people can; I'm skeptical, but I realize that others would be puzzled by the fact that I don't get energy from, and hence want to maximize the number of, such interactions).

    3. I've taught a couple of places like this. It was sort of nice, although I was a little standoffish at first. It's a much different vibe, and the longer I was there the more I felt like a bit of an uncle to the kids at those colleges. I know that frightens the shit out of some people, and it did me. But when I got over that, it was actually a really rewarding sort of role.

      We really did have dinner with students. Every proffie I knew had students over tot he house at least once a year. Usually groups, parties, tailgates, go to see bands, etc.

      In my short experience there was never a single event like the Ice Cream Man's.

  6. We're all adults. Socializing should follow the rules of any other workplace.

    A lawyer, a doctor, or an architect can socialize with their clients. A CEO can go to his employees' parties if he wishes. There is nothing wrong with going. All that might be wrong is one's behavior when one gets there. A professor shouldn't sleep with a student any more than a prosecuting attorney should sleep with a witness. And professional dealings may be constrained by making friends with students. A student buddy should be told to take someone else's class, just like a judge should recuse himself from a case involving his fishing buddy.

    We are not high school teachers.

  7. Bad judgment aside, I don't understand WANTING to spend time with my students. I do all I can NOT to run into them or socialize with them because it just feels too much like work.

    And if I could be Cal, I think my life would be complete.

  8. Back in the day, I had the same prof for a few of my grad classes. He had this tradition where, when time was called on the final, we would all head over to the on-campus Round Table and have a few Beers on him.

    Good times!

  9. We have barbecues and pot-luck dinners at faculty homes about once or twice per semester. We also invite students to come along when we take colloquium speakers and job candidates (not that we've had those for a long time) to dinner after their talks.

    Importantly, no alcohol is served at these social events. We used to do this, and one instance in which some students got badly sozzled and obnoxious wised us up.

    Hiram: Hey, I'm taking no chances. This is a forum for university faculty, you know?