I knew that something was amiss in my Concepts of Comedy class this morning, but I couldn't figure out what. My students were quieter than usual, unwilling to respond to what I thought were softball questions. Were they upset by the reading material? Granted, David Sedaris's "Brother, Can You Spare a Tie?" does draw awkward attention to humorous aspects of the male anatomy, but on Monday we'd discussed Nora Ephron's "A Few Words about Breasts" without a problem.
But today was different: they weren't just quiet; they looked physically uncomfortable, and they kept shooting me these looks that made me wonder whether my fly was down or maybe the heel of my shoe was dragging a long line of toilet paper around the room.
I stumbled my way through the class as well as I could despite my students' lack of participation, not to mention a certain sluggishness caused by an annoying stomach bug that kept interrupting my sleep last night. (If you're interested in experiencing Total Energy Drain along with the feeling that you're passing barbed wire through your intestines, have I got the virus for you!) Then I cancelled my office hours and went home to get some sleep.
I was halfway home before I remembered: that class was supposed to take a reading quiz this morning. There they were, all set to disgorge piles of interesting insights from their overstuffed brains, and instead I was up there babbling about the Comic Body and the Licensed Fool and when are penises funny?
Twenty-two students in the room and not a single one of them pointed out that they were supposed to be taking a quiz. No wonder they were uncomfortable. I'll bet they're all deeply depressed over my oversight and in danger of moving into suicidal despair if I don't intervene. I know: I'll send them an online quiz! They'll be so relieved that they'll vote me Greatest Professor on the Planet and throw a ticker-tape parade down the middle of campus!
Or maybe we'll just forget about the whole thing and move on.