"We're declaring war on the squirrels. (Looks around in vain for a long piece of chalk.) No, we're declaring war on whoever keeps breaking the %*@# chalk!"
My rhetoric instructor Red Ball, on the first day of class. She turned out to be my favourite instructor this semester, but not because she swore at the chalk.
"I just feel like everyone should get four cookies."
I have no context for this; it was a bit of conversation between two profs walking down a hallway. Whatever they were talking about, I applaud her outlook on the world.
Crazed Spanish teacher: You often look perplexed during class.
I: No, that's my normal look.
We're going to hear more from Crazed Spanish Teacher, believe me.
In Linguistics class, when discussing the ambiguity of an adjective:
"It could be an old man and an old woman, or an old man and a regular woman."
Elderly friends, please don't be offended; I didn't say it.
Almost-PhD: "Next week, when we decompose . . ."
My linguistics teacher. We never did decompose.
Crazed Spanish teacher: In English you would call this a Pullman.
Rest of class: (Bewildered silence)
Crazed ST: Do you know what a Pullman is?
Rest of class: No.
I: You have to read books that were written in the 30s and 40s to know what a Pullman is.
When Crazed Spanish teacher was trying to get us to learn the word 'cochecama'. Which I still have not learned.
"I just know that when I throw away a plastic container, I'm insulting the earth, you know? So now I always say, 'Take that, Earth!' It's just my way to remind myself that I'm screwing the earth."
Overheard. Two young men. Made me giggle.
Almost-PhD: You're about 26, right?
I: Close-- I'm 32.
A-PhD: 32??? Are you drinking the blood of virgins?
I knew this was a compliment right away, but I had to go home & look it up to find out what she was talking about. And it's even more funny that she is the same age, and also looks younger than she is.
No Entiendo: Señorita Wilcox.
I (Correcting him for the 15th time): Thank you. I'm a Señora.
NE: I'm sorry. It's usually correct for me to call young women "Señorita".
I: No, I understand! Really, it's a lot less awkward having to tell you in Spanish than it is in my English classes.
"No Entiendo" means "I don't understand", which is a great name for my literature teacher who I could barely understand. This conversation was translated from Spanish, and we repeated it umpteen times during the semester.
Almost-PhD: Get your laughs out now on the peepee.
When we were learning how to abbreviate "prepositional phrase" on a phrase structure tree.
Student: Our professor said, "Stay if you want", and he left.
Blonde Spanish teacher: What??
Student: Yeah, he said it was really rude. He was kind of mad, so he left.
BST: Still... I know you guys are adults and all, but I would never have left you. When you fill out your end-of-semester evaluations, remember: I would NEVER have left you.
After the young man shot himself, talking about the campus being on lockdown. Apparently, one of my classmates' instructor left in a huff when he realised he didn't have the class' attention, due to there being a gunman on campus.
Moderately Amusing Freshman: So I've been talking to this girl, and last night I asked her out.
Amazing Hair: What did she say?
MAF: She said, "Oh, you're not gay?"
Yeah. I was surprised, too.
(I can't believe I'm sharing this one...)
Red Ball: Someone did a study, and they showed a bunch of men gay porn and measured their tumesence. I don't need to define that for you, do I?
Male Student: Yeah, actually, can you define it?
Red Ball: Well, can you guess? (Goes on to explain her point for this illustration)
Another Male Student: Wait, what's that word? Tumesence?
Red Ball: Yeah.
Student: What's that?
Red Ball (Is totally committed to not defining this word in class): Well, think about what would be measurable...
Student (light dawns): Oh. How?
Red Ball (changes the subject)
Everyone got there by the end of the conversation. I really, really wanted to commend these gentlemen on their innocence, but thought better of it.
Lord of the Writing Center: There are 22 slots in the class, and I usually get at least twice as many applications as I have slots.
Sprained Ankle (to me): Well, that's scary.
Me (back at her): No kidding.
Random Student: When will you let us know who is in the class, so we can register?
LoWC: Within a couple of weeks. If you miss your registration time, we'll save your spot for you.
Another Random Student: Can we still add during the add/drop if we get in?
LoWC: Yes, I'll keep your slot open until you either register or tell me you don't want it. Bottom line is, no one gets into the class except through me.
Sprained Ankle (to me, again): That sounded really Biblical.
At the preregistration interest meeting for the Writing Center Internship class. Sprained Ankle is a rhetoric classmate; we were sitting together. And we both got into the class for next semester.
I walked into linguistics, where a Harry Potter conversation was in progress:
Amazing Hair: It always works! You say, "Hey, you like HP, too?" Instant friends.
Looks Like Luna: That's true. Hey, I'm going to be Luna for Halloween. (Yes, she chose her own nickname & didn't even know it.)
Random Student: Who?
LLL: Luna Lovegood. If you read the books, she's one of Harry's friends. And she has blonde hair.
Moderately Amusing Freshman: What about Lord of the Rings?
LLL: I never got into LOTR.
AH: Me, neither.
Random Student: It's too long!
LLL: That's true. It's really, really long.
I: Wait. You guys have all read all seven HPs, but LOTR is too long?
All of them (more or less in unison): Oh, yeah...
I think they were unconvinced that they should immediately begin reading LOTR.
Also in linguistics class (where I get all my good stories, apparently):
Moderately Amusing Freshman: We've been in this class all semester, and I still don't recognise anybody except the ones who sit over here.
Amazing Hair: Me neither.
I: I'm so happy to hear you guys say that, because if y'all aren't in here yet when I walk in, I always think I'm in the wrong room.
MAF: I know! I think that every day!
I: I'm glad to know it's not just me, because I was thinking I'm the world's biggest jerk.
"If you turn in a bunch of crap, it will be my privilege to give you a bad grade."
New Spanish teacher, who replaced No Entiendo halfway through the semester, when N.E. was hospitialised. I like N.S.T., too. College instructors are my favourite.
"Eventually, every civilization will destroy itself."
The TA in Astronomy class. When we were talking about life on other planets.
And one day, New Spanish Teacher totally freaked me out at the end of class. I'm usually one of the last ones out, but this was ridiculous:
NST (enthusiastically): Hey, Su! How are you doing?
I (taken aback): Fine, thank you.
Another student (commenting on the crowd gathered around NST): Hey, you have a fan club.
NST: Looks more like a question club to me. (He was right; everyone but me was there to ask a question.)
I: I really just want to get to the door, actually.
And as I opened the door to go out:
NST (still enthusiastic): Ciao, Su!
And I walked down the hall, thinking, "That was really weird." I think he had just barely learned my name & was doing the "toddler with a new skill" thing.
While working on a project for Hispanic linguistics about codeswitching (that is, bilingual people randomly switching between languages):
I: So the book gives examples for French, German, and Mandarin, if we want to use any of those.
Happy Spanish Student: (tries to read the Mandarin, with no success)
I: Do you think we can find a Mandarin speaker to tell us how to pronounce it?
HSS: Oh, yeah, we'll just go around and say 'Oh, excuse us--'
Random Student: (Looks around, thinking we are talking to him)
HSS & I: (Laugh for 5 minutes)
HSS: Actually, he was Asian. We should have asked.
I: Oh, yeah, that would be a great conversation. 'I beg your pardon, but we're engaging in racial profiling. Do you speak Mandarin?'
HSS: Yeah, I don't see that happening.
We ended up finding some Spanish examples that worked just fine. And-- better yet-- that we could read without harassing passers-by.
"It's probably best that you have insulin on hand before eating these."
Red Ball, who brought us sugar cookies hand-decorated by her 12ish-year-old. They were covered in frosting.
In our next-to-last day in Crazed Spanish Teacher's class, a classmate did a presentation on Spanish idioms: The equivalent of the English "Kick the bucket" is "Peel the garlic". "Splitting hairs" becomes "Looking for five paws on the cat". And my favourite: "Get your goats and let's go" is equivalent to such English gems as "Make like a tree and leaf." Best. Presentation. Ever.
And that, my friends, was my semester.