Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Funny Post About Michael Berube

Okay, so it's not exactly about Michael Berube, but it's still funny. First a little background.

In my two years at the University of Illinois, from the fall of 1994 to graduation in spring of 1996, I more or less fell in love with no fewer than 5 women. Now, when I say I "fell in love" with these women, I mean that I found them physically attractive and they were smarter than hell... and that combination is usually enough. The mid-90's, if you'll recall, was just about the height of the whole retro look, so many women were wearing funky outfits from every decade of C20. In the fall of 1994 I took an Intro to Film class, and besides being totally smitten by the GA, I also developed a huge crush on this young woman who sat next to me. I mean, Christ, she wore flapper outfits all the time. It's hard not to like a woman in a flapper outfit.

One night early that year I was hanging out in Murphy's and she was there with a group of friends. This was back when Murphy's was populated by graduate students and English majors, before they expanded and lit the place up, and before it was overrun by Greeks. My friends were kneedeep in Guiness and I was three sheets to the wind on - oh how very appropos - Cutty Sark, neat. One of my good friends also vaguely knew this young woman, and towards the end of the night as she headed up to the bar she patted our heads duck-duck-goose style on her way past us.

I said to my friend something like, "Oh my god, I really think I'm in love with her."

"Dyke," he said.

"What?"

"She doesn't like your penis. Sorry."

And that night in Murphy's Pub marked the beginning of an odd and recurring phenomenon in which I fall in love with a woman and then find out, either immediately or eventually, that she's a lesbian. I have come to refer to this phenomenon as The Curse, and it has struck many times since. Which brings me to Michael Berube for two reasons.

For one thing, the last time The Curse struck in Champaign was in his Modern American Literature class in the spring of 1996. I can't remember the young woman's name who sat next to me, but I can remember very clearly the feeling of my heart getting crushed when I saw her kissing another woman on the quad late one night. In fact, it felt remarkably like my heart was getting ground under the heel of a big black Doc Marten boot.

The other Berube connection is why I'm writing today. About five years ago I somehow found out he'd moved on to Penn State and emailed him one of those "Hey you probably don't remember me but I was in your class... here's what I'm doing now but am thinking of quitting (Amazon was just starting to get bad at that point) . . . do you have any advice, etc." emails. Dude writes back. Totally remembers me and taunts me for liking the Detroit Red Wings.

So after a few years of not emailing him again, about a year ago I did a Google search and found his website. If you haven't checked out his site, do so RIGHT FUCKING NOW. Surf around. Check out the archives. I simply can't believe how smart the guy is, not to mention prolific. His posts about critical theory are especially impressive, and as intimidating as they are, are also fantastically reassuring to me that I'm not entering an English PhD program. No sirree, the high school classroom is the place for me.

But alas, whenever I read Michael's posts and subsequent comments, I have this really strong urge to post a comment of my own. A small part of this is ego - them's some smart goddamn people that read and comment at Michael's site, and I want to be considered a smart goddamn person too. The problem (no, a better word here is "curse") is that every time I post a comment over on Michael's site, I make a typo or other error of some kind. And when you're trying to hang with English PhDs, it's best to not make grammatical errors.

And I'm not just talking misplaced apostrophes. I'm talking dumbass typos, and in the worst possible case, misspelling authors' names. Granted, not everyone will get "Alasdair Gray" right the first time. But almost everyone will get it right the second time, unless they are me.

Funny stuff, but I think this last typo episode marks the last time I will ever comment on Michael's site.

2 Comments:

Blogger P said...

And lest anyone think The Curse was just a Champaign thing, it happened twice in Seattle. Then again, you can't swing a Doc Marten boot without hitting a lesbian in Seattle.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

So: think of typos as having a semiotic stucture outside of the dictionary.

The fact of your advertent, or inadvertent, passage outside of the known and accepted spelling means only what you wish it to mean.

I'm wondering why you would wish it to mean it is an omen, warding you away from commenting on Berube's site?

Cheers

9:02 PM  

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