The Absentminded Professor

I’ve had a lot of fun creating one of the characters that shows up in my WIP. He’s an eccentric, zany college professor.

Although he’s only in one scene, it’s a pivotal scene– the scene where my main characters first meet.

Did I mention it’s been a fun scene to write?

I must have eccentric university professors on the brain because I was slicing a watermelon a few days ago and it brought back the memory of one of the most eccentric profs I ever had in college.

And I’ve had a few.

One liked to bring her guitar to class and make us sing campfire songs about teaching. (Clearly hadn’t been in a high school classroom, for which she was preparing us, in a very long time.)

One talked about Nathaniel Hawthorne like they were in a romantic relationship. (Creepy.)

One taught Latin dance lessons (which I took, thank you very much. So fun!)

One wrote his own textbook. (Ego, much?)

One continually forgot what we were doing in class and relied on us to make up our own assignments and grade them. (Not my favorite.)

One was possibly the devil.

But the one I think was the most “eccentric” was really the most fun. He was my geography professor. While many on campus didn’t care for him or his methods of teaching, I enjoyed his classes. Because of my degree, I think I took about 5 or 6 classes from him. Thank goodness I liked him.

He was a good ole Southern boy, but super, super intelligent with lots of wisdom and experience, and he wasn’t afraid to share. He was also a little bit of a dirty old man. In a funny way.

His “rambling” was very entertaining.

His exams were always challenging.

By challenging I mean that you better hope and pray that you wrote down and studied every.single.word that he said in class, because there was absolutely no telling what he’d put on the exam. You might be studying Africa, but a question about politics in the US would show up.

One time he came into class, late of course, and shouted “everyone get out a piece of paper. Draw Russia. When you’re done, you can go.”

By “draw Russia” he wanted an exact topographical map, to scale. Yeah, even this geography nerd found that challenging. Russia’s big, y’all, and it’s got a lot of stuff going on in it geographically. 🙂

But let me get back to the watermelon.

One of my fondest memories of his class is when he went off on a tangent about watermelons. He began lecturing us on the best way to slice a watermelon so that you wouldn’t “lose its soul.”

No, I’m not kidding.

And guess what showed up on the exam?

Question 38– What’s the best way to slice a watermelon so you don’t lose its soul?

No, really. I’m not kidding.

Share with me: Do you have any stories or memories of a zany, eccentric professor from your university days?


Filed under Just For Fun, Writing

19 responses to “The Absentminded Professor

  1. Jessica R. Patch

    I laughed all through that. I love people like that! My Spanish teacher was kind of a nut. She’d get all excited over words, which I get, but Spanish words I do not. Anyway, she’d bounce on her desk when she did it. And she dressed like we were still in the 50’s and by “we” I mean other people. 🙂

    Too funny!!

  2. Lori Dilworth

    I have a bad feeling that I am turning into an eccentric, zany college professor…

    By the way I have many, many stories – perhaps I won’t publish them online though!

  3. You know, I was in that Geography class with you. I sang the songs, experienced the devil (remember when we all ditched that person’s class and went to El Vaquero?!), and I overpaid for the required textbook. We also toured the archives of the library while in shock when the first building came down on September 11, 2001. There is a group of us that will forever be connected because of those college days…sometimes I miss them.

  4. This post makes me think one thing: I’d make a very good professor! 😀

  5. That is HILARIOUS!

    I didn’t have any kooky professors, but I did have a SUPER quirky pre-calc teacher in high school. Oh my goodness.

    she used to work for NASA and was a genius. So teaching pre calc was like teaching a kid how to add 2 + 2. It just seems so easy to us and we might have a hard time explaining why. That’s how she taught pre-calc.

    She was kind of a bigger woman. And she wore bright pink lipstick that stained her teeth and these huge glasses. She wore black-tinted panythose and white ankle sock that were way too big and of course, Keds.

    She’s stand in front of the class, teach the lesson by writing a bunch of foreign symbols on the board, Then she’s sit at her desk while we worked. I’d always watch her. And she’d sit there, nodding off to sleep. Whenever her head would jerk up, she’d meet my eye and smirk this really slow, funny smirk.

    One time a kid came into her class for help and started banging erasers on her desk, saying, “I. Don’t. Understand. What. You. Are. Saying.” She just laughed. Another time she chased a kid down the hall with a yard stick.

  6. I love history and so I had a lot of different history professors in college. My favorite was the department head and he gave amazing lectures. I loved listening to him and engaging in conversations – but his test were the most horrible I’ve ever taken. He went strictly out of the text book (which was so dry!) and this is what he said before the test would begin: “All the multiple answers are correct, but one is more correct than the others.” Ahh! Talk about double guessing yourself. I had never failed a test before that class, but the prof was so kind he said: “From your research papers and our classroom conversations, I know you’re getting this stuff. What’s the problem with the tests?” How could I answer that without insulting the man?

  7. So, I don’t have that many stories of university profs, though I’m sure I had some crazy ones. But my senior AP Lit teacher in high school dressed up like a giant beetle one day. Yes, we were starting Kafka’s Metamorphosis. It. Was. Awesome.

    My Spanish AP teacher in high school told us all about how sore he was after his vasectomy. Weird. And creepy. Oh, and he told us his wife was an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Yep.

  8. I went to Bible College. Crazy people there too. So, they loved Jesus AND were crazy. Dr Vern Middleton is his name. He had been a missionary in India, and spoke fluent Hindi. He dressed like Fraulein Maria , “the poor didn’t want this one.”. Loud, polyester everything. He told us once about swimming at a lake in BC, and hearing some Hindu men talking and laughing and it was all in Hindi. They went on and ON about white people and how the white man in the water next to them looked like an idiot and how he was so odd looking. Dr M kept swimming. The men all climbed up onto the dock, and kept talking about him. Then he climbed up on the dock and began to ask them their names, how their day was going etc, all in perfect Hindi. They just about DIED of shame. He acted like nothing had been said and when they asked him how his Hindi was so good, he told them.
    They were blown away and left with huge respect for him.
    As the school year went on, his clothes got nicer and nicer. He did it on purpose. He let us judge and disrespect him and took it all year, just to teach us all a lesson. We got it.

  9. Ha! I had an English professor who would talk about how Rupaul (the drag queen) crashed on his couch for awhile. And I had a religion professor who wore a bow tie, glasses, and intimidated me to pieces. 🙂

  10. essenseofebony

    Jenny there must be a recurring theme with Geography professors being quirky, because Dr. Good (or “Senor Bueno” as he liked for us to call him) was one of the oddest teachers I had, he made us color, would go off on these UBER random tangents, have no idea what we did from one class to the next. He blamed it on getting malaria, but I think he was just odd.

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