Friday, January 13, 2006

The Velveteen Professor

Kind of like Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society", minus the gorilla suit and bi-polarity.

A few days ago, I was reading through some literature (Highlights for Children), when I came across a man who shared the name of a professor of mine in college. For Googling purposes, I've changed his name. Let's call him Professor Enrico Lombardi. Prof. Lombardi taught art history (my major, as it enabled me to combine my love for robot-like memorization and pretty colors) at my college, and his specialty was ancient art, also known as "not my specialty."

I dreaded taking his class. But I was pleasantly surprised the first day of our seminar, when in walked this adorable Italian man in a velveteen suit. He had little round glasses, European flair up the chassy, and the kind of face that bakers worldwide would kill to make out of marzipan. In other words, he was to die for adorable.

But, as with all fallible creatures, he was not without his flaws. When he went to introduce himself, it was nearly impossible to understand a single word he said. This wasn't an accent problem, either: It sounded as if part of his larynx had been removed, possibly (in all seriousness) due to throat cancer. He began the class by explaining (in little detail) that he has a speaking problem, and that there are certain letters of the alphabet he cannot pronounce. He wrote these letters on the board. I noticed that most of the letters written made up this man's last name. That must be a real bummer, not being able to pronounce your own last name. How would you even secure a table at T.G.I. Friday's... give a fake last name? An easily pronounceable one... like "Kak" or "Toot" or something? Sigh.

In all seriousness, this man was what Jason Schwartzman in Rushmore would grow up to look like.

Anyway, because this was a seminar, the students would be required to speak up. If you know me at all, you know I simply lurve to talk. But those who really know me know that I do not have an academic bone in my body. Pop culture bones, sure, and thankfully art history was just borderline-bullshitty enough for me to eek my way through. (The real morons, we all know, majored in sociology.) At the end of this ancient ordeal (which I needed for my major requirement), I believe I scored a respectable B- in his class, which considering how often I went to class, was nothing short of a miracle.

Point being, when I saw this Professor's name in front of me, I recalled only fond memories of the adorable, tiny, bespecaled man draped in fine Italian suits, usually seen studying in the Art History library... a man who I could borderline picture myself settling down with til the grave, raising little fairy-like Italian babies with, dressing them in calf-skin bonnets and otter-hide booties.

So I thought - Who could I get in touch with who knows this guy? To, you know, reminisce with? Who could relive my younger, firmer years with me for just a mome or deux. And it hit me: Jules, of course! Fellow comedian, blogger, and Columbia Art History major, albeit one waaaaay, waaay waay waay smarter than I. So I sent an e-mail over her way... and it said:
Jules: This morning, I thought of Professor Lombardi in the Art History Dept... After [name redacted, but notoriously Columbia's most smoking-hot Art Hist. Prof.], I think he was the most adorable professor in ANY department. Speech impediment, Shmeech Shminshmediment, the guy was so cute and nice! Remeber him?

Short and sweet. Figured we'd bat this ball of yarn about for a while, have a small giggle, and move on. Her response, to say the least, caught me off-guard:
Michelle: He HATED ME. he was so well dressed and throatless. And he HATED ME. Single handedly kept me from getting magna cum laude. [Ed. Note: Jules and I later discussed what a twatty comment this was to make, but I left it in to prove how smart she really is.] But those italian silk scarves! The cashmere v-necks! I have mixed emotions, suffice to say.

My Response:
Oh my god....haha I had no idea!

I don't think I was on his radar at all -- I had a seminar with him, but I was pretty dumb, maybe that's why he didn't dislike me. I wasn't threatening his job, geniusface.

Also I used to call him Professor Velvet Thunder, and I think he liked it.

Julia, with the final word:
He actually was like an old-school european sexist who hates funny women, and just wants classrooms of women to fawn all over him, so considering, and I'm only speaking about me here, that I'm about as fawningly feminine as General Patton with a bike rack up my ass, he wanted to kill me, and probably would have murdered you too, slowly, with his satin Ferragamo panties.

And then it hit me: Julia had just spelled out exactly the way I want to die. Prof. Lombardi suffocating me to death with his satin Ferragamo panties. I also propose that this is how they kill off Kiefer Sutherland on the series finale of "24".

Oh my God, he's practically begging for it.

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