Crushes are funny things. Most of mine have been of the brain variety, leaving looks beside the point. Like when I was a freshman at an all-woman's college and there was a history professor we were all mad about: professor John d'Entremont (French, I suppose; it's pronounced, "Dawn-treh-mawnt," dahling). Ah so.
We swooned. We gurgled. We worshipped any ground he covered. Our provincial little campus seemed too small for his giant brain. We were not worthy.
For most classes we wore Lanz nightgowns, jammed into our sweats. Holding steaming cups of coffee, we hid under baseball caps. But for Professor D, we wore lipstick and even teased our hair. Though he miserably failed the blue jeans test (if you don't fit in the fellow's jeans, you'll never make a pair). Professor D was a mini-man, 125 pounds wet, if that.
With coke bottle glasses and pock-marked skin, he was the sexiest man we had ever seen. We even -- at least, us die-hard fans -- stuck around for summer school to take another class from him. He was just so damn smart. And it wasn't just his encyclopedic recall of history. It was the way he presented the material.
So calm he was, unflappable when someone disagreed. He taught with a feminist slant in the heart of Jerry Falwell's screed. Back then, "Moral Majority" bumperstickers peppered the streets. And then there was, not least nor last, his quiet tempered voice. We had to strain our ears to hear him and we savored every word.
I googled old d'Entremont today for a picture, but I had no luck. Though his skeletal biography on the college website popped right up. So did a site called "ratemyprofessor.com."
As yet, Professor D is unrated, perhaps because the scales are a bit much. Are the lectures "incomprehensible" or "crystal clear" went one query. The last question, labeled "just for fun" asked whether the professor is "Hot" or "Not." Umm-umm. Too cruel. Too subjective. Not for me.
At my last parent-teacher conference I learned Mr. M had put a "kick me" sign on another student who, in the words of his teacher, "handled it beautifully. If it had been me," she said plaintively "I would have been in tears."
Really, I said, incredulous. "Don't you know the 'kick-me' kid gets the boat and the girl?" I asked her, only to draw a blank stare. Of course I forget how old I am, how long ago that Smith-Barney ad ran. The nerdy boy sports a kick-me sign as he deposits his pennies at the bank every day. Later, he's shown grown up, perched on the stern of his "Kick Me" yacht, transmogrified into a Michael Caine clone. A beautiful coltish woman appears and joins him in the end.
Of course we had plenty of staggeringly smart women professors, too. There was one in particular we especially loved. She died years ago and now, with not a little embarrassment, I'm struggling to remember her name.
One day during class someone boldly asked her why she'd never married. Her answer has never left me. Without a pause, she answered affably and offhandedly: "Easy. I never met a man who would let me drive his car."
The day is soon coming when brainy women will make the boys croon. So over here we're working on Shakespeare and Scrabble in the afternoons. Antigone would work for a small-group reading, and maybe Oedipus, too. Some mom friends of mine said they'll come read with their sons, happy to join my girl-power cause. Certain a girl brain-explosion is coming, we're grooming our boys, getting them ready.