The Guest Lecturer

The Guest Lecturer

The Guest Lecturer

1 clear plastic off-brand water bottle
½ liter bottom-shelf vodka

I’m not a bad guy, but more importantly, I went to a good school. I mean it’s not like I went to a state school or even some third-tier liberal arts school: I went to Williams for undergrad, and I went to Yale for my doctorate. I have a doctorate, and I’ve had it for 30 years! For 30 years, I’ve taught and lectured: first at a secondary campus for a state school, then as a lecturer at a small liberal arts college in New Orleans. It was not easy — I started off only a few years older than my students, and I had to earn their respect. I have given talks on a range of controversial subjects, I have been in the heat of academic politics, and I am no stranger to controversy. Now, as a tenured professor at Tulane, I am fully confident in my ability to withstand any attack on my academic reputation and to brave any hostile classroom environment.

Correction: I was fully confident in my abilities, at least until I gave a short talk at Dartmouth College. I remember it like it was yesterday: I received an email from a colleague who taught at Dartmouth, asking me to comment on a recent article I had written about the historical context of a pressing college social issue. She told me that students were eager to hear “diverse opinions,” and to engage in “dialogue.” I would do almost anything to get out of teaching a class on the Friday before Halloween, so I immediately accepted. I thought it prudent to learn a little about Dartmouth before I went: where the hopping bars were, the going rate for a cab, that kind of thing. I knew it was a bit rural. I kind of imagined colonial-style buildings, some brick… I guess I wasn’t far off in some ways. I knew they were all alcoholics — I prepared for that by picking up a bit of cheap vodka from the convenience store. I checked their Wikipedia page, and found that I was right about the alcohol thing… apparently one of their mascots is a keg. Since their other mascot was an Indian, I decided to wear my Washington Redskins jersey… I will forever regret that decision. I reviewed The Dartmouth Review’s Review Reviews for restaurant recommendations, though nothing I read there could prepare me for the food desert that is Hanover, New Hampshire.

When I arrived, I checked into my complimentary room at the Hanover Inn. While quite luxurious, it gave me a creepy feeling, almost as if the ghost of a construction worker lingered there. I proceeded to one of the finer establishments in town, after which I swore to never venture so far into the unrefined wilderness again. I feel asleep, buzzed, after a disappointing night: Hanover has nothing to do.

The next day is still hazy in my memory. I recall that, after being informed by a member of the S&S force that hard alcohol was forbidden on campus, I stole one of the complimentary water bottles from my room, emptied it, and filled it with vodka. I did a few shots to numb me before what I so mistakenly assumed would be another boring lecture before uninterested students.

I was right, at least for the first part of the talk. The geriatric members of the audience sparsely populating the front of the room were nodding complaisantly as I flipped through the first few text-filled PowerPoint slides, though one energetic, crabby-looking sexagenarian was furiously jotting notes in his notebook.

“Any questions?” I asked. I took a sip from my water bottle.

At that moment, all three doors leading into the auditorium burst forth simultaneously, each releasing a phalanx of sign-wielding protestors. They held up placards proclaiming various slogans; some screaming “Black Lives Matter,” while others denounced the “rape culture” or “slut-shaming” or “victim-blaming.” One man had a sign that confusingly announced, “Impeach Hanlon 12 Galaxies Guiltied to a Galericulate Rocket Society.” Some protestors were armed with buckets of tampons, while others clutched bags of glitter, and still others had the deadliest weapons of all – a list of questions meant to harry whatever hapless presenter showed up at the time. One person with such a sheaf pushed himself to the front of the line. He cleared his throat and asked, “Your chair is funded by a five million dollar endowment from donors like the Koch Brothers. Would you have anal sex for five million dollars?”

It was at that moment that I made a terrible mistake; with vodka in my stomach, a laser pointer in my hand, and a slew of words in my brain, I chose that moment to open my mouth.

I blacked in on President Hanlon’s desk with no idea of what had just occurred.

By Dr. P. F. Talc