sex and tenure

Yesterday I had what is likely to be a first of many meetings for my new half-time appointment for which I’m leading professional development efforts for faculty. It was a good meeting; I got useful information and offers for help; he paid for lunch and encouraged dessert. I feel supported but not micromanaged.

All that said, I still felt like there were plenty of hints that there will always be something to write about. (At some point, and now I can’t remember when or where, I mused that having a position where I worked with administration and faculty all day long could lead to great book material. Unfortunately the title “Clueless in Academe” has already been taken.) I learned in only 20 minutes of time that there are certain catch phrases that can be connected to specific people (in this case it was, “now that being said,” as a beginning to a second paragraph of whatever essay he was composing). I also almost started to laugh when he rolled consonants (e.g., rellenos, Fernandez, Argentina, etc.) with a particularly Spanish flair at the Mexican restaurant, which just sounded funny to me. That’s probably because I heard a reading of David Sedaris making fun of this in another university professor, and anytime a Sedaris reading comes flying into your head when you aren’t expecting it there’s a good chance you could snort enchiladas out your nose. But best of all was this quote:

“If you’ve not been through it, you’re a little bit embarrassed to ask.”

This was referring to . . .

. . . learning about the process of getting tenure, and how my office can help new faculty with this. And it’s a very appropriate description, but I kept thinking (while eating my cheese enchiladas) it was an equally appropriate description of someone in their youth, considering the mysterious abstraction of sex. And then I realized that the two processes, learning about sex and learning about getting tenure, are remarkably similar. Except that getting tenure is way less climactic, but people congratulate you for it anyway, even though they seldom really understand it.


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