“I don’t know man,” I say to my Academic Advisor as he informs that I’ll have to wait yet another year before graduating. I feel like Milton in Office Space only I don’t want to threaten to burn down the building because…well…9/11. It’s funny and it’s kinda not, kinda like my life.
“What’s one more semester?” He asks. He always asks this question. Every single semester he asks that question: “what’s one more semester?” You’d think he’d want to get rid of me eventually, but I know that he enjoys having me around because I get good grades and try really hard. Maybe I should stop doing all that.
“Are you familiar with a Court Jester?” I ask. The really funny thing about my Academic Advisor is that I call him my AA sponsor and he’s got all my emergency contact info and stuff, so if I ever have a legitimate crisis in life everyone will be calling him and he’ll be responding like he’s really important and everything only to have someone in the ER or somewhere say: “You must be really important to him” when in reality he barely knows me.
“You mean like someone who jokes during court?” He asks. My academic advisor lacks basic common sense and fails to grasp core concepts of things like life so this isn’t an unusual question from him.
“No, I mean like during the reign of the Tudors in England, there were court jesters. That’s how the colloquialism: ‘surely you jest’ came about,” I explain. He looks at me with vast hints of skepticism. I can tell that he wants to look on “the Googlies” as he calls Google, but is too polite to look it up while I’m sitting right in front of him. He’s got this weird office. It looks like Che Guevera’s Cuban bunker or something. Substitute the huge American flag for a Cuban one and you’re there. He’s got pots of plants growing everywhere and lots of windows, which I’m sure is some sort of status symbol among college professors or maybe just among history professors because they need one more reason to seem less normal.
“The point is that I can’t change the entire history curriculum for one student,” he explains as if I’ve been staring out the window the entire time, which in actuality I have been doing, but I was also listening to what he was saying. He tends to associate a lack of eye contact with a lack of understanding, so I avoid eye contact with him as much as possible. He looks at me every couple of minutes or so and asks: “are you following me?” I nod my head and act like something really interesting is happening outside every time he asks this. The guy is so gullible that every time he sees me staring out the window he looks out the window as if he’s going to miss something super important.
“I understand what you’re saying, but you’ve been using the: what’s one more semester? Line of defense for over three years now…” I insist.
“It’s not a line of defense, we’re not at war here,” he says as I stare at the bald spot on his head. “Do I have something there?” He asks, putting his hand on his head. I always think about what a huge mistake it was not to bring some shaving cream, a Sharpie and a feather midway through the meeting.
“So I’m just supposed to suck this up then?” I ask rhetorically.
“What choice do you have?” He asks. I can tell where he’s going with this question. He always uses a question to lead into another question. He doesn’t actually answer any of his questions. It would be hilarious if he did though. He’d walk around asking things like: “what’s one semester?” “I don’t know, how bad could it be?” “Well, it mustn’t be too bad if my sponsor keeps asking it, right?” And then he would just continue on and on with a series of questions that can also pose as statements if the questioner is aloof enough.
“That’s a Pitbull?” I ask, staring at his dog.
“Guildenstern,” he says. I try not to roll my eyes right in front of him, but some things are just unavoidable.
“Is he a Baron or something?” I ask, trying to confuse him by acting as if I don’t know anything about Shakespeare and am instead thinking that the dog might actually be a part of a German royal family.
“It’s Hamlet,” he said. I shook my head up and down in a manner that suggested that I could be slightly confused. “You see Hamlet doesn’t trust Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,” he says as I feign ignorance of the topic all the while thinking to myself: how can one man be so guillible? The answer to that question will probably never be made known to me.
“Hold on,” I say, as if this is going a little over my head. “You’re saying that this Rosencrantz fellow isn’t who he says he is?” This is when he flips into total dork mode and he does this every time I meet with him. He forgets where he left his Complete Annotated Guide to Shakespeare, a six thousand page book with footnotes as if this behemoth of an object is something that one might casually lose. As he looks around for his book (I know exactly where he keeps it: in the top right drawer of his desk) I stare at Guildenstern wondering: where on Earth is Rosencrantz? It’s a legitimate question I think. No one with a working knowledge of Shakespeare would name a dog Guildenstern if there was no Rosencrantz! I looked around the room, now more confused than ever. By the time he makes it back to his desk I’m thoroughly perplexed as a million different scenarios have gone fleeting through my head. As he begins looking into his desk for his book I finally ask him: “where is Rosencrantz?” He stares at me for a moment and thinks deeply about this question.
“Rosencrantz won’t be joining us, at least not here, anymore,” he says and I look into his eyes for the first time since I’ve been there and for just a moment feel a brief moment of empathy for his loss.
“What’s one more semester at a time like this?” I ask.
“Indeed,” he says, a tear rolling down his cheek.
This is how I get talked into just one more semester almost every single semester.