|This lake makes me think I need to visit South Korea.|
9:00 am. After breakfast, walk out the door to go to work.
9:15 am. Pass by the elderly man selling egg bread at the corner of an alley on my walk to my office. He's there every single day, rain or shine. Carefully look away when the grandpa's neatly barbered hairline and threadbare coat collars came into vision as I slip by, for not wanting to be saddened by things that I have no right to find sad.
|I would make any nearby egg bread seller a very rich man. No more threadbare coats.|
1:00 pm. Rummage food in the office, instead of bothering to go out for lunch. Keep reading for class, outlining a teaching scenario and making notes of usable examples.
3:00 pm. Prof P arrives on campus and calls me. I go downstairs to greet him. He's the speaker of today's Special Guest Lecture, an ongoing program that I design and implement as part of the department's extracurricular academic projects. He seems glad to see me well. I am relieved that he doesn't say much about the past two years. His face, gazing at my prematurely greying hair, is telling, and I appreciate that much of his subdued kindness. We mostly talk about work, as we are both involved in a theatrical production of a literary classic as academic counsel.
3:30 pm. P's lecture begins. About 20 grad students show up, plus a few faculty members and undergrads. A pretty good turnout, and my anxiety somewhat subsides. P turns out to be funny and engaging. A known sexual harasser with interesting scholarship, better than expected. Not just good showmanship but substance deftly deployed in skillful delivery. A girl in my undergrad class asks smart questions about desire for knowledge in the text and I feel proud as if her smarts were all my doing. That foolish moment is my fix for the day.
6:00 pm. After the 2-hour lecture, I take P to dinner as is customary. Not too excited, for two close friends in other departments who also know P declined my invitation to dinner. It was actually their boycotting of P's visit altogether. While it's understandable that they do not want to fraternize with P, I feel ambiguous about them making me entertain this P by myself. Then I feel bad about myself feeling ambiguous about them. This is my responsibility and I should be able to handle the situation. For lack of choice I invited P despite reservations about his reputation, thinking that words often circulate without ground. It's just unfortunate that the two friends confirmed his reputation with what they know of him only after P's visit was finalized and publicized. Still, it's better to be alerted; and I respect my friends for refusing to hide their judgment.
|That hot little dresser was totally asking for it.|
For now, however, I prefer to think that I need to maintain a neutral ground of formal hospitality at least while I perform the role of a good host. I am not worried about being harassed myself. But I am careful not to invite graduate students to dinner as we sometimes do. Fortunately two colleagues willingly join in. I tell them nothing, for only a fool would misbehave in this setting. I stay politely watchful nonetheless, and see that he is a big drinker and silently picky with food. With us three women, even after a few drinks P is so well-behaved that it's hard to decide whether I should be relieved or disappointed. I almost feel like a villain waiting for disaster in vain.
He's suave and clever. But he also seems a little different from before. Though P never offended or bothered me before, from my previous encounters I remember him to have been more intensely attentive with the kind of slick nicety that could easily morph into sleazy flirtatiousness. His reputation turns out not without ground, but a man like P gets tired and mellow too, I suppose, which isn't too bad a thing. All the while, though, I lament inside that, in this day and age and even in this profession full of self-appointed progressives, gender and sexual dynamics still causes such headaches and requires such a maneuvering. I also ponder upon the fate of a man whose reputation always precedes him and exceeds his reality.
|Mellowed by age? Or mellowed by booze?|
8:50 pm. Last look and revision of the English translation of the script, which I have been working on the past couple of weeks because of P's request, before sending it off to the production manager by email.