The day has barely begun but I've already fulfilled my weekly quota for surreal moments, starting with arriving on campus to find my classroom building locked. I called campus police to complain and the helpful man at the desk said, "You can expect to find most campus buildings locked since it's a holiday."
"It may be a holiday for you," I said, "but not for me and my students. We have classes in this building starting in 15 minutes so the doors need to be unlocked."
"You should have submitted a request in advance specifying which doors you need to have unlocked," he said.
The conversation did not go well from that point. He accused me of being rude, and he may have been correct. It's annoying enough to be required to teach on Labor Day, but how can I fulfill that requirement if my students can't get into the building?
But they did! And we had a fun class, in which my next surreal moment arrived during our discussion of The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka. We were discussing how the village chief, Baroka, felt when a magazine published two large photos of the village beauty but consigned poor Baroka to a tiny photo in the corner alongside the village outhouse. "Nobody puts Baroka in the corner!" I said, setting off a bizarre mental cross-fertilization between The Lion and the Jewel and Dirty Dancing until I was suggesting (out loud!) that it might be interesting to put Baroka and Baby in the same room for a conversation--after all, he is looking for a new wife!
Strange moment, but nobody walked out in disgust. I'd taken the precaution of locking all the doors.
(Okay, I made up that last part. But not the rest!)