It was clearly a long, painful conversation, even at the time that I found myself sitting down at the table next to you. Immediately I admired your patience, felt sympathy for you for having to endure the endless excuses and pitiful displays of faux-intellectualism enacted across from you. This hipster 20-something graduate student who wouldn’t stop talking — but clearly should have — finally conceded:
It’s totally my fault …
and he trailed off, as if to expect that you, the assistant prof with the stack of papers and the starving, neglected tenure file, not only has time for this, but would say something to excuse him and acknowledge the brilliance he’d been verbally showcasing, waxing on and on about Aristotle and Socrates, pulling at his ragged beard all the while. (You must hate that beard, unkempt and in contrast to your uniformly cut bangs?) But instead, you said these words that moved me:
Well who else’s fault would it be?
It was so immediate and pointed. And that halted the beard stroking, the endless talking, the posturing of our young grad student, at least for that moment. And I wanted to stand up, cheer, pump my fist and give you a high five. And, even, in that darker place in my soul and psyche, I wanted to kick his chair over. But you already did that, essentially. So instead I sat here, behind this laptop screen, and typed your words. You are my hero.