This semester, I decided to take a seminar about Russian literature in English translation. I don’t speak Russian, I don’t think I had ever read a book originally written in Russian beforehand, but the course sounded interested, At Kenyon You Will, etc. And the class was going fine until I not only missed over an hour of class by looking at rugs, but also convinced approximately half of my class to do the same. (Names changed to the names of popular children’s book characters to protect privacy.)
One day in class, Professor Longstocking mentioned something about starting class in Gund Gallery for two weeks. I made a mental note of that and promptly slipped it away in the back of my brain until one week later at around 6:45pm. “Wait!” I thought. “Is class starting in the Gallery tonight?” I sent Prof. Longstocking an email but it was 15 minutes before class started, so she didn’t respond.
At 6:53, I went outside Ascension, where my class regularly meets, and saw Paddington Bear. “Paddington Bear,” I said, “do you know if we’re supposed to meet at the Gallery today?” Paddington told me that he kinda remembers that we were supposed to. We looked at the classroom window: it’s dark inside. I bopped on into Ascension to see if there was a note left on the door, but there was not. I then recalled that I had a friend who works at the Gallery, Matilda from Matilda and told me about what was happening that night. “My friend, Matilda from Matilda, told me that there’s some artist talk at 7:00 about some Soviet-inspired Middle Eastern war rugs or something at the Gallery. Maybe we’re supposed to go to that?” Soviet rugs, Soviet books, not a huge mental leap there! Paddington and I talked this over and we decided to wait until 6:57 and walk over to the Gallery if no one has showed up by then.
Well, time’s arrow marches forward, and sure enough 6:57 came around. At this point, two more confused classmates have shown up, Amelia Bedelia and Clark the Shark. We told them the whole story about the war rugs and how no one else is in the classroom and we decide to go to the Gallery. And we picked up another classmate—I dunno, like, Harry Potter or something—on the way.
We got in place for the artist talk and realize that half of our class was not there and our professor was also not there. So we were probably not supposed to be there. But before we could band together and leave, the talk started, at which point we were entrapped by social code. The talk itself was fine, the rugs were pretty cool. They had helicopters and drones and guns and stuff on them but done in a very traditional style. But the whole time all I was thinking about is how I had, like a reverse Orpheus, dragged a good chunk of my classmates to the underworld and left them there to rot. The talk ended at 8:00, 60 whole minutes after the beginning of class, and we made our way over to Ascension and prepare what we were going to say to Prof. Longstocking. Everyone in class, where they were actually supposed to be, was silent in thought when we walked in and, upon seeing literally half of the class walking in over an hour late, had a collective “Whaaaaat?” moment.
We explained the story to our professor, who clarified to us that starting next week we’d be meeting in the Gallery first, but she seemed to think it was pretty funny.