Everyone Knew Me as the Guy the Professor Always Picked On–Really!

When I was a college junior, I took a basic freshman level biology class. Technically I should not have been allowed to do so, but I always liked to buck the system, and so I got permission from the dean to do so when I enrolled for the fall semester back in the spring. (There’s a story to tell about that, but that one will have to wait.)

Freshman level biology classes usually had about 300 students in the lecture part of the class, and many smaller lab classes with about 15 to 20 students each. It was rare if anyone actually knew your name in the lecture class.

I liked to sit on the very back row, and I sat between two friends of mine, who happened to be girls. My two friends were constantly passing notes back and forth, via me (not my idea) and invariably as soon as they did, the professor would look directly at me and ask me a question. This didn’t happen once or twice, but sometimes several times a day. No matter how hard I tried to get my friends to stop passing notes, they just kept doing so, and the professor kept asking me questions—never the girls. That didn’t seem, very fair to me, but that was the truth.

As I walked around the campus, and spotted someone who was also in that biology class, I liked to stop and talk about the lectures. I always got the same response—“you’re the guy that the professor always picks on.” So one day a couple of weeks into the class I spotted the professor in the hallway, and I decided to ask him why he always picked on me.

OK, now it’s time to fess up and tell you the other half of the story—the “you didn’t really do that did you?” thing. You see when I enrolled in class; I did not have a serious girlfriend. But during the summer I met this girl, and by the time class started in the fall, I was not only dating her, but actually spending almost all of my spare time with her and we were very serious.

Most of that time was spent with her in her office as she was a lab assistant—for the professor of the biology class I was enrolled in.

What the professor told me when I asked him why he picked on me, was that—“if I was going to date one of his lab instructors, then by golly he was going to make sure I learned biology.” By the way, I wasn’t in her lab; I had as a lab instructor one of the other graduate students.

So now you know why everyone knew me as the guy the professor always picked on. Oh—one more thing—six months later I married her, and the person who gave her away at our wedding was her graduate student adviser—the professor who always picked on me.

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