No, I didn’t wear a plaid miniskirt. Because I was in college. And I was an adult.
There are a lot of conceptions about relationships between professors and students. Some of them are sexy. Some of them are horrible. Many of them are false.
I am tempted to say, about my own relationship with a professor when I was a student, “we were different’”. “It was fine for us, because we both loved Foucault.” “It was fine for us because we liked listening to chamber music.” That would be ridiculous. It was no more fine for us than it might be for any adult man and woman. Satisfying relationships are not determined by people being mature and sophisticated and savvy. They are determined by two people having things in common, and liking one another. That’s been my experience, anyway.
I’m likewise tempted to say that it was sexier than it was. There is an erotic appeal to anything that happens in secret. If I was sixteen, I’d want some sort of Cosmopolitan Magazine advice on how to seduce college professors. “10 ways to eat an apple off his desk sexily!” But there’s no perfect formula to make any man want to be with you.
I do think that the environment I was in contributed towards that relationship. I went to an Ivy League school where the major draw was the professors. If there was anyplace where they were going to be idolized, it was there. Maybe because we were so often told we were the best and brightest, students were encouraged to talk to them socially. Doing so was normal.
So when I had a class with Professor X and we got along well, I didn’t think it was odd to keep talking to him afterwards. I didn’t think it was odd the way you would not think it was odd to want to keep talking to anyone you liked. I liked him. I wanted to keep talking to him because I liked him. He was funny. He laughed at my jokes. I laughed at his jokes. I liked talking to him more than I have liked talking to many people before or after. I am not a great talker, as a rule.
I worry this all carries with it shades of Tracy Flick. In my defense, I can say that I was a legal adult at the time.
It is difficult to explain why anyone likes anyone else. Better intellectuals than I am have tried to explain that phenomenon – but yes, we liked each other.
It might be worthwhile to remark that he was unmarried. He was in his 30′s. He was attractive. Frankly, though, I don’t think these things matter. That is to say, I think that relationships are unpredictable. No one can know themselves perfectly enough to say “I’m not going to fall in love with anyone significantly older or younger, handsome or ugly, married or single.” We can surprise ourselves. We underrate ourselves if we do not think so.