You cannot petition the lord with prayer, and it really pisses Dr. Calculus off.
When I was back there at the University of Maine, for some reason, Jim Morison was still remarkably popular among the undergrads, despite the fact that he had already been dead for almost a decade. See?
To this day, I still have flashbacks of being awakened in the wee hours by the exhortations of Jim and company as they blasted from the refrigerator-size speakers that took up more space than the beds in one of the more notorious rooms down the hall. Apparently volume was crucial to a successful trip, as was repetition, because even now, I can recall the words to that song. To the letter.
Now, with the psychedelic experience often come unusual compulsions, such as the need to undress in public, or at the very least in the company of several of your closest friends and/or acquaintances. Or so I have heard. Of course the streaking craze of the early Seventies had been largely consigned to memory by the time I began my long, hazy journey through academia, though like all exhibitionistic indulgences, it has enjoyed periodic resurgences and upticks in activity ever since.
But as I say, back in the day, it wasn’t widely practiced, other than by a couple of incorrigible undergraduate nudists on campus, more often than not after a long evening of consuming grain alcohol mixed with Kool Aid that was served by the tumbler from a garbage can. Understandable of course. As such, I did spy the occasional exposed member or naked cheek of a weekend evening; however, the practice of stripping down in public was exclusively the domain of the student rather than the faculty.
And so it was with some interest and no little surprise that I happened upon the story of the Michigan State math professor who melted down to such an extent — in the classroom — that he felt compelled to strip completely naked and utterly nude in the middle of a calculus lecture. Now I’m no math whiz, but I’d have to say that if anything could make me lose my grip on reality, not to mention my underthings, it would be having to teach an advanced mathematics class. So I sympathize. Or is it empathize? I can never remember. Anyways…take a look.
What I love about this article is the reference to keeping your socks on by the student in the classroom. If you’ll recall, one of my state’s most colorful scandals involved the charming Eliot Spitzer, aka the “Luv Guv,” who was found to have availed himself of the services of a bevy of sex workers, and subsequently lost his dream job. Like the mad calculus professor, he too preferred to keep his socks on, though if the press accounts are to believed, he lobbied his escorts heavily for unprotected sex. Now that’s a thrill seeker.
Here’s what I don’t get. It wasn’t until Professor Crazy stripped naked that the students became fearful. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems unlikely he could conceal a weapon once he was down to his birthday suit. Who knows, maybe there was a shiv in his sock or a telltale scab on the nether regions that posed an infection risk? Unlikely, you must admit. So why then, would a group of healthy twenty year-olds fear one paunchy un-armed math professor? The photo is a bit grainy, but he’s clearly no Arnold Schwartzenneger.
In fact, a quick scroll through the Facebook would indicate that the youth of today are far less inhibited about being caught naked on film than any previous generation. One might conclude, therefore, that this professor’s little trip to Crazy Town should have been no more traumatic than a night in the frat house for his students. Perhaps it wasn’t the nudity, but the existential crisis that got them all in a lather. Maybe it was the notion that not only can you NOT petition the lord with prayer, but He doesn’t actually exist at all that put them in a tizzy. Or maybe it was just the calculus. Would have done it for me.