Posted by: jeannineatkins | August 29, 2008

Who Needs an Ego?

The crickets are only getting louder. Goldenrod is taking over the meadows. Yesterday I went to a meeting about a class I’ll be teaching, so, face it, fall is coming, but I’m actually almost ready. I was excited to see colleagues I’ve missed and talk about a book. There was just one disturbing moment. One of my former professors was at the meeting, a beloved writing instructor, recently retired, who is now be teaching the same course I am. We’re talking thirty years ago that I took his class, so while I remember him clearly, he’s had thousands of students since. I was chatting with him when he suddenly said, “Oh, I DO remember you.” Then he threw back his head and went into gales of laughter. And that was it. No words, and maybe I should be grateful. This was not the most confident moment of my life.

Are egos overrated? Later I picked up student evaluations for my spring children’s lit course and they made me feel better (though I almost typed bitter…). Many said the sweet things about the course. Suggestions for improvement? One wrote no Wind in the Willows, which I’ve already taken off the syllabus, and one wrote, more scones. I suppose there can always be more scones.



  1. What’s so funny is that I can hear Rat now, with Mole in front of the fireplace, saying something just like that…”More scones?” 🙂
    So sorry you had to go through that moment with the prof. When I was in college, asking around for letters of rec, I went to one of my favorites–what a surprise when I went to pick up the letter, and it was a basic formula, not even written on a full sheet of paper. Same feeling…and I don’t think we ever grow out of it. Your prof (and mine), though, could have been a little less rude,too. 🙂

  2. Hmmm.. yes, maybe those English majors are too much like the small beings in their rowboats and cozy lairs to enjoy reading about them?
    Ick re the formulaic letter. I’m sorry. Of course people are busy, and memories do lapse –I’m old enough to be very compassionate about that — but it is a good idea to try to keep some basic manners.
    Hope you’re enjoying some boy-at-school time and inspired by a night with Jo and friends!

  3. That moment should find its way into a story (altered, of course).

  4. Oh gosh, Jeannine. I’m really wondering what that professor remembered about you! And student evaluations are funny, aren’t they? Some are ego-feeders and others just make you want to bang your head on your desk. Reminds me of conference evaluations, upon which somebody will inevitably comment: “the chicken was underdone” or “ran out of ice.” 🙂

  5. Or I could just let it go….

  6. Yeah, my husband, too, just asked me what I thought he remembered or didn’t. I am trying not to wonder!
    Your thing about evaluations made me laugh. Though I was wondering at yesterday’s meeting, whose idea was it to serve Chinese food? I suppose it could have been worse, but fortune cookies are not brownies, which I’m sure I was not the only one in desperate need of after hours of instruction and discussion and finding out my classroom might be a closet.

  7. I kinda want to find that old guy and kick him in the shins with pointy-toed shoes.

  8. Nice to know I have vigilante buddies with good shoes. Hey, it’s a rough world out there sometimes.

  9. “he suddenly said, ‘Oh, I DO remember you.’ Then he threw back his head and went into gales of laughter.”
    I’m thinking this says more about him than you.
    Of course, maybe he just remembered a very clever joke you’d once made.
    Or he just came from the dentist, where he’d had nitrous oxide.

  10. Yes, nitrous oxide! Well, I don’t begrudge anyone a good laugh or any memory that can keep for thirty years. File this under the mysteries of life.

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