Van Halen nailed it. I love that song, and it’s so true. That chili pepper on RateMyProfessor feels great, and we secretly yearn for that little icon, even though it has no bearing on tenure at all. That’s too bad, because I wish I could mention my chili peppers during job interviews. Yeah, the better part of me wonders about encouraging the sexualization of professors by their students. But this is my secret blog, and I’m tipsy, and also extremely vain, so fuck it. If you’ve ever clicked on that chili pepper for a professor, know this: She saw it, and she grinned. She probably texted her boyfriend, and she probably humble-bragged about it over cocktails.
One time a guy was flirting with me and he said, “You’ve got a chili pepper, don’t you?” I looked away and brushed my hair behind one ear, biting my lip. “Yeah,” I said, looking down, embarrassed to smile. “I’ve got one.”
How do I know the true coveted status of the chili pepper? Funny story: I used to know someone who gave himself chili peppers on RateMyProfessor and then bragged about it to everyone, as if we didn’t know what he was up to. A chili pepper for this hipster? Bullshit. I mean, he looked fine but he was a true oddling. I observed his class once and wound up teaching it from the back of the room. Girls didn’t want to come within ten feet of him, which made handing back papers difficult. By the end of the day, half his students were emailing the department chair asking for overrides into my section. This is not the path to the chili pepper.
Oh, if only we could just accept compliments from our students. Life would be so simple. But some of them act like creeps. Once the pepper halo fades, we teachers have to learn how to deal with different types of students who express their libido in different ways. I’ve noticed they fall into these categories:
The Enamored: Once, a student came to see me after a few weeks of class. During office hours. It kinda freaked me out, because nobody ever comes to your office hours. He said he was upset about something and needed to talk. At first, I figured he was going to tell me I sucked as a teacher. Instead, he looked at me with his wide eyes and said, “I’m really attracted to you and don’t know what to do.” He was definitely on the cute side. If I were a bad person, I would’ve fucked him. Instead, I talked him through his feelings and encouraged him to stay in class. He was actually my best student.
Now here’s the part I can’t tell my colleagues. Sure, I was nervous things could get weird. But it was kind of thrilling. If he was a bad writer, or skipped half the classes, then it would be hard to discipline him. It was an unpredictable situation. How do you handle a student who said, in polite terms, that he basically daydreams about fucking you while you’re explaining assignment guidelines?
Now here’s the part I really can’t tell anyone. More than once, I masturbated while fantasizing about that student fantasizing about me. Does it sound fucked up? It’s fucked up and normal at the same time. In fact, I have a bad habit of masturbating while I think about students flirting with me. I would never actually date a student. That’s career suicide for women. But the taboo is powerful. If every student secretly dreams about having sex with a hot teacher, then at least some teachers dream about having students that obsess over them. There’s no bigger turn on for a narcissist. If it were socially acceptable, I’d have “Ridiculously Hot Teacher” engraved on my headstone. Hey, maybe I will.
The Clueless: Some students, usually older, just don’t understand that I’m their professor. They over-participate. They show up to my office at the worst times and stay way too long. One student of mine, late 20s, wound up just shy of stalker classification. He showered me in compliments, some of them just a little inappropriate (you have such a beautiful spirit, you look so, healthy from top to bottom, way young for your age). Somehow he found out my birthday and brought me a cupcake and flowers. And a balloon. Let’s get this out of the way. I fucking hate balloons. I’m not sure why.
He gave me a card on Valentine’s Day. If that weren’t enough, he interrupted me all the fucking time during seminars, and sneaked in weird questions about my personal life. He emailed me practically every day, and he came by my office 3-4 times a week. I honestly wanted to mace him and scream “rape,” just to get rid of his irritating ass. When the semester ended, he tried to invite me to a dinner party. I came up with an excuse. Finally, I just had to start acting like a bitch. I’m good at that, and it always works.
The Troublemakers: Once, an athlete walked up behind me before class and ran his hand along my side and said, “Niiiice. Do you work out on campus?” I stared at him a few seconds, then told him to find a seat. Wowza. Yes, I was offended at the time. It counted as harassment. I still got off on it later, because I have unhealthy sexual appetites. If anything, my kinks just make me extra careful.
Later I told my supervisor about the athlete’s stunt, and we agreed to start a paperwork trail. Fortunately, he calmed down and muddled through with one of those mercy Cs. I know, one day, decades from now, I might be sitting in a bar somewhere sucking down Long Island iced teas, telling young men shit like, “Back in my day, all the boys used to line up to feel my lateral muscles. I was a queen, I tell ya.” But for now, it’s just something I have to deal with.
Another student once tried to touch my hair after class. I dodged and made a snarky comment about his greasy hands after I’d just showered.
The Crazies: These dudes belong in a mental hospital. A few years ago, one older guy decided he wanted a M.A. in English. He was never even admitted to the program, but he showed up at all of our readings and bummed around the office all the time. Every so often, he left pornographic poems for the ladies. I got one in purple ink confessing how much he wanted to lick my nipples.
Yeah, scary. I still saved it and fantasized about it. Eventually I threw it away. I would never talk with this guy for more than 3 minutes, but he was a notch on my stalker pole. I think everyone secretly has a stalker pole. Sure, we don’t want creeper dick pics or their gross come-ons, but we also sort of keep tally of them. Wow, I got 3 unsolicited poems and 4 dick pics last week. I’m amazing. This is a real Catch-22. Our minds tell us one thing, our biology tells us something else.
Anyway, a friend of mine once had a student joke that he was going to tie her up and spank her for a bad grade. Another friend of mine was straight up offered sex by a former student. He said, “Anytime you want to come by to fuck, let me know.” I’m jealous of both. I wish a student had threatened to tie me up and spank me. It would be great if a student would slap my ass. I would get him expelled, but god what a rush.