“[S]he seemed to follow the rules and customs of some exotic, faraway nation where the citizens drilled the ground for oil paint and picked pastels from the branches of stunted trees. Without copying anyone else, she had invented her own curious personality, which I envied even more than her artistic ability.”
--David Sedaris, from “Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist”
Last week Adrian, one of my freshmen writing students told me that, to his friends I’m like some sort of folk hero. Apparently, he is roommates with another one of my students from another writing class, and they sometimes sit around and tell Professor Bush stories. Adrian told me how his girlfriend, his other roommate, and the people in his band aren’t sure if I really exist.
Another writing student in a 3rd class, told me something similar. She said that I reminded her of her boyfriend and that when she tells him stories about me he says, “that’s something I would say! I wanna meet this guy!” When she told me that, I commented that if I started a fan club, he’d be my choice for president. She just shook her head and said, “No. You two must never be allowed to meet…Although, he probably would take you up on the offer.”
The funny thing about these comments is that I want to be a campus character. One of the attractive aspects of being a college professor is that you can develop a reputation (and later a legend) based on outrageous things you’ve said and funny things you’ve done.
To a certain degree, isn’t that what all of us want, to be recognized and appreciated by the community of which we’re a part? Whether it’s the Hollywood community that the whole world sees or part of an obscure Guinea tribe known only be specialists of that region, don’t we all want an identity that we can point to and take pride in?
But I have to admit: something Adrian said validated his “folk hero” comment. Before leaving the empty classroom, he turned around and said, “and besides all the memorable moments, you’re also a great teacher. That’s what makes it so fun.”