I had a teacher many years ago in college that was the definitive picture of a professor nerd. I think that he tried to be cool, and truthfully, in a way he had all of us naive college students convinced that he was. But that was only because he was smart, and most of all, funny. Allow me to paint the “definitive picture” of this memorable professor for you, whom I will affectionately refer to as Professor PP. Unfortunately, Professor PP was nothing like the suave Professor Jones of Indiana Jones fame. Remember how the school girls seductively wrote “I love you” on their eyelids for Professor Jones to discretely see? Well, if you don’t, I guess I’m showing my age.
Anyway, Professor PP was nothing like handsome Indie. He was a short, squat man of only about 5 foot 5 in his elevator wingbacks. In other words, when you think of tall, dark and handsome, you wouldn’t think of Professor PP–with maybe the exception of “dark”–since Professor PP did have a very dark, frizzy fro on his very pasty white little head. It sort of reminded me of “Burt’s do.” No not, Burt Reynolds or even Burt Convey, but Burt of the famous duo, “Burt and Ernie.” And to top off the cool factor, Professor PP was a biker dude. Does that surprise you? I know it did me, especially when I saw him for the first time zooming around campus on his little black moped. Of course, the word “zoom” is probably a bit of an exaggeration. It was more like he putted by with his brief case in tow. I think it left me, that very first time, with a very self-satisfying chuckle.
Sure, everyone knew that Professor PP was quirky. And we also knew he was a bit of a geek. But he made “Mental Hygiene” fun, and for that, we forgave every fashion or elegance faux pas. The reason I bring up Professor PP is to say that Professor PP had one other talent. At least, I thought he did. He seemed to know so much about psychology and the human psyche that I figured he could take one quick look at me and size me up in nothing flat. In other words, I felt emotionally exposed around such a psychological giant!
As I look back on that man and the intimidation I felt, I think that he did know more about me and every starry eyed college student in his many classes. As a mom now in my forties, not to mention, a counselor, I often have that same discernment to a point as well. Sure, some of it comes with experience and the dreaded reality of age, but it’s something I think we all have more than we realize. And I hope that doesn’t scare you to know that you are known. It can be a very good thing if we will give in to it.
I’ve been working on a book I’ve entitled, “Reality Shows.” And I’m convinced that this is true–reality shows. In other words, no matter how hard we try to hide it, the reality of who we all are shows as clearly as the nose on our faces. I think that was never more true than in the case of my memorable Professor PP. He was his own man, and we all admired him for it no matter how weird or nerdy he was on the surface. He didn’t pretend to be the tall, dark and handsome, Professor Jones. We would have all seen through that facade in a heartbeat. He was content, and even joyful to be boldly unique, and for me, memorable!
The bottom line is that we need to realize people see through our facades, so we might as well be real about our quirky, nerdy, and imperfect lives. Everyone will not only like us better, but we’ll make a positive impression that will be hard to shake in decades to come. Thanks Professor PP for inspiring me not only to laugh during dull subjects like Mental Hygiene, but also to be real!