I had tea with a friend of mine this afternoon. As might be expected when a pair of relatively young, eager academics meet for caffeinated beverages on a cold late autumn afternoon, the two of us discussed the scholarly life. Pleasantly, in addition to the standard exposition of the myriad anxieties plaguing the minds of young, non-tenured academics like ourselves, we also spoke of some of the advantages our chosen career paths can provide. Though we did not talk about it, I have always appreciated the fact that one's appearance is not as strictly monitored among academics. Indeed, tattoos, piercings, denim, scruff, and other elements of corporate unfriendly dress are tolerated, if not outright encouraged in many academic circles.
That said, I dressed rather nicely this afternoon, reasoning that meeting a friend and her infant daughter merited a clean-shaven visage, a nice collared shirt, and otherwise clean clothes, so I was a bit chagrined when a rather cretinous fellow approached me as I walked outside the cafe to explain that he was "trying to score some bud" and wanted to know if I could assist him in his search for no doubt primo weed. Now, don't get me wrong. Though I choose not to take recreational drugs myself, I do not agree with the laws restricting their consumption and I wished the young man the best of luck in procuring the most righteously mind-blowing cannabis sativa upstate New York has to offer. But I was chagrined nevertheless. Vexed, even. I say this because, in my efforts to doll myself up, in my attempt to dress to the nines, I still evidentially resemble the sort of person one can comfortably approach in broad daylight (or, rather, New York's sunlight-diffused gray haze), in full view of law enforcement officers, and ask for drugs. Which brings me back to academic life and its delightfully lax dress code. You see, I mustn't have any idea how to properly attire myself for the real world. I mean, if even my best efforts to dress nicely result in me looking like someone Cheech Marin might find lurking outside his trailer, then I really haven't many vocational options. Teaching college, at least, gives people an excuse to explain away my apparent inability to comprehend even the most rudimentary fashion-related concepts. Oh, he's a professor, the theoretical person will say, understandingly, drawing upon the nutty professor stereotype. He's eccentric! Or, alternately, Bright people don't bother themselves with trifles like fashion sense. No, they're busy working on important stuff like researching onomatopoeia in Finnegans Wake.
So I came home and worked on transcribing notes for my dissertation. After all, the outside world is apparently too strange and mysterious a place for the likes of me. . .
For tomorrow: More of the same.