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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Fresher's Ball

"Do you fancy a pint", except in JJ's rough Dublin brogue it sounds like "Djy fancy oh poyint?".

Twenty minutes later, sitting in Sleepers, nursing a poyint of Worthington's Cream Flow, we agree that we'll just "have the one". It's Monday after all, about five thirty pm and our first day of proper lectures has just finished. Naturally, midnight comes and goes and the good stuff is still flowing, except now we've moved to JJ's kitchen and its two stiff fingers of Bushmills each. The acid test comes, inevitably, as JJ is pouring the juice. He glances casually at me and asks

"Yer want some ice in that or something?"

I look at him like he's from Mars, and nothing further needs to be said. We sit there and sip, neatly. Perhaps us getting along (as we have been doing), is not just because we're the only men in the class, but I do sense that although my new found comrade in arms and I have hit it off immediately, I shall be missing out on an important facet of University life if I dont also attempt to mix a little more broadly.

The question of how to do so without being either creepy, or well, creepy, is one I am considering the next day when I pass our Departmental noticeboard and discover to my horror that I have been placed in a small seminar group that, self excepted, consists entirely of young female students. I realize quickly that it is not the 'female' that particularly bothers me, it is the 'young'. Young people can be scary and tend to notice all sorts of things that us old'uns do not - things like the make of one's trainers, nose hair, ear hair, lack of hair and excess hair in the form of sloppy, unshaved chins, and if my trendy English nieces are any guide, they also notice very quickly when an old person is trying too hard to be young. Immediately, I decide that my safest bet is to adopt an air of studied nonchalance, perhaps with a suggestion of wisdom, while steering clear of being patronising, but above all, to appear genuine.


JoeyMac said...

Or are you secretly dreading your potential appeal to young coed crowd? ;)

Grasshopper said...

Ah yes, university girls are impressed by a man who has to shave. Not to mention a man who has actually worked for a living. And a man who has been able to commit to being married (oooooooh! how grown up!!!) And, well, a man who is a man rather than a 20-something boy. Plus, you have the "foreign factor", having been in Canada.

What am I trying to say??

Be wary of the swoon. It's coming...Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow. But someday. Soon. And for the rest of your degree.

MJN said...

In answer to Joe's comment, (and I do know it was a humourous one), I am definitely NOT secretly dreading that something pleasant might happen - everyone likes to be liked. The truth is, I am plain and simple dreading it.
Grasshopper's comments only make it worse:) because now on top of all the anxiety about how working building sites for forty years has probably dulled the old grey matter and they've only let me in because they need a quota, and that everything I can think of to say IS really stupid and that I'll probably forget myself and use industrial language or put my foot right in my big gob, she has also introduced the spectre that instead of just being happily ignored while I get used to all this stuff, not only will I have to say something, but now I'll probably be noticed as well. AAAGHH!! I WANNA GO BACK TO LEEDS!!!

JoeyMac said...

Wow. I think one day is a new record for imposter syndrome. :) Not that I'm diminishing how unnerving it must be. If its any help, some of m favourite students were the ones with a bit of life experience. Not afriad to talk, and can give examples of how the lessons connect to the real world.

Grasshopper said...

But the great thing about swoony girls is that it doesn't matter how stupid the stuff that comes out of your mouth is. They'll giggle and blink-blink-blink, and all will be forgotten. It's girls like me, Anna, Nell, and all the other female readers of this blog that you've gotta watch for. We hear, evaluate, weigh, and measure every word that you say. And, for what it's worth - we think you've got what it takes to make it at university. You'll be fine. In fact, you'll be brilliant!!