I remember my skin crawling. Ronald Grant Archive This piece is part of our Formative Years series , where writers reflect on their college experience. Like so many wide-eyed college kids before me, I had a crush on my professor. I slept with him, repeatedly, over the course of several years.
It all began 10 years this week. I was 17, and he At first it was innocent enough. I bummed a smoke off him at morning lecture break. We chatted about the Epic of Gilgamesh, or something similarly innocuous and liberal-artsy.
He wore Ray-Bans before they made a comeback, plaid before it became a hipster trend, and he had a nervous, charming, rambling beatnik-meets-Tom Waits aura about him like he was on the verge of either mental collapse or genius. We drank, we smoked pot, we drank some more.
All of a sudden it was just him and me left on his scratchy tartan couch. Surrounded by empty bottles of red wine and smoky stacks of collected rare books, you can imagine what happened next. The rest of my undergrad experience was peppered with our sexual encounters and spirited — at times dangerous — adventures. I became friends with his young sons.
I met his mother. I hosted soirees for faculty and students alike at his downtown apartment. One night, we got a little too carried away and he was arrested for drunk driving, with yours truly in the passenger seat. It even made the front page of the local news. My laid-back, west coast father came to the east coast and met him.
Then my hardworking, big city mother came to the east coast and met him. My friends were polarized — they thought the relationship was either charming or revolting. As for me, I felt emboldened. I had made the choice to make a grown man in a position of power shake with desire. One night postcoital, professor and I were eating roasted nuts and drinking red wine naked in his bed. I was 20 years old at this point. We put it on. In the film, Woody Allen plays his typical pervy-uncle trope, twice-divorced, in the midst of dating a year-old.
Do you believe that? Not that I have anything to hide … but there are a few disgusting little moments that I regret. Watching that film that night with professor, I realized my role as a time-wasting toy, the fun tonic for revitalizing the jaded, irresponsible prof. I realized that the fact my professor even showed me this film was a game. I was all a game. But things carried on. In a final year of university, professor convinced me to participate in a course he was offering on Laurence Sterne, author of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.
A personal meltdown ensued, and I had to end the relationship. I moved far away. Finally, we were both left to find new material for the unwritten memoirs of our passionately messy lives.
The lessons I learned from this relationship were lasting. Playing around with sex and power can be a thrill, as long as you take care of your heart and your ego.