Not to be confused with self-abuse.
A bit of background: my undergrad degree is in chemistry. So when I found myself in a college freshman intro chemistry class, I could be forgiven, don’t you think, for skipping the reading assignment? Oh, I had skimmed it, enough that things looked vaguely familiar. I figured I would pick up what I needed to know during the lecture.
The prof, somehow figuring out that I had a BS in chemistry, announced that I would be teaching today’s class.
“Oh, that’s okay, you go right ahead,” said I.
“No, no, I insist,” said the prof.
From my seat in the auditorium, I began working through the course reading page by page. One of the other students raised her hand and politely suggested I get up in front of the blackboard to give a more conventional lecture, since my current plan was (and I quote) boring. I obliged, and began to wipe the board clean. Except it wasn’t a blackboard at all, it was a dry-erase board, and the last lecturer had written all over it with the wrong (i.e. unerasable) pen.
The classroom was mostly filled with sympathetic and patient souls, but there were just enough unruly students to turn the whole thing into chaos. The background chatter would not stop no matter how much I begged. And to make matters worse, there was a widescreen TV next to the dry-erase board, and it was on, and it was blaring. I did not have the remote. I asked that whoever had the remote should turn it off. When that didn’t work, I tried to turn it off at the source, but every time I pushed the on/off button, the genius with the remote turned it back on again.
When finally I had their attention (and the TV was silent), I turned the page on the textbook. What, I wondered, would I be obliged to explain? Hopefully not the Nernst equation or the Henderson Hasselbalch equation. I haven’t looked at those in years. Hopefully something easy, like the concept of a mole.
But no. The next page had twelve full-color images of the monthly birth stones, and rings made from those birth stones. One of the students asked me, “Um, what is the relevance of this to our class?” and I was stumped. So I said, “These stones, see — they’re all matter!” Brilliant.
I think I woke up before the students had finished sharpening their pointed sticks.