It's All Greek to Me

My friend Heather and I attended the same university. Heather and I had been friends since highschool and took as many college classes together as we could. We sat through Earth, Air, Fire and Water together, I had thought it was about the band of a similar name, turns out it was a science class, go figure. We took at least six Criminal Justice classes together, no doubt hoping to be a modern day Cagney and Lacey.

Our sophomore year we signed up for a Greek and Roman Mythology class. It was a large lecture of easily over 300 people. We spent most of the time listening to the Professor, a diminutive, quiet woman in her early sixties, as we furiously took notes. The remainder of class was spent looking at slides of artwork that related to the figures of mythology.

It was probably six weeks or so into class on the day in question. Like I stated before, this was a very big class and it was already well established that you didn't raise your hand to ask a question or comment during the lecture. If you had something to ask you waited until after class or you saw the professor during her office hours. This was pretty obvious to almost everyone.

That day was a slide presentation day and we were looking at statues and painting of the deities we had recently covered.

Professor:

“In this slide we see Demeter, Roman name Ceres, from whom the name cereal is
derived. Remember she is the goddess of agriculture, the harvest and mother of
Persephone. She is typically presented holding tufts of grain or corn. You also find her frequently alongside her daughter as expressed in the seated statue Demeter of Cnidos, circa 340 B.C., the cult statue from her sanctuary at Cnidos.

Here we have the Greek god Eros, Roman name Cupid, the personification of love. Eros is relatively easy to recognize in art form because he is usually represented as a winged youth armed with bow and arrows as we can see in this earthenware circa 500 B.C.

In this slide we have a partially recovered statue of Priapus, god of regeneration and fertility. Son of Aphrodite and Dionysus, he is frequently represented as a grotesque
little man with an enormous erect phallus-"
A hand shoots up from the crowd. The girl belonging to the hand sits only a few rows from us so I have a good view of her. I see the professor look at her with her hand up and look away, continuing her description.

"Even today, you'll find statues of Priapus in many of the gardens of Greece-"
The girl starts pumping her hand up Horshack style. Again, the teacher ignores her as she meanders up and down the aisles clicking toward the projector. But this girl, she believes she has a great question, a question that everyone else is just dying to know the answer. So her hand doesn't go down even though it's awkward at this point because she clearly isn't catching the fact that though the Professor has seen her hand up she hasn't called on her.

Finally, realizing this girl's hand wasn't going away on its own, the Professor looks at her and says,


"Yes," drawn out a little.

“What's a phallus," she asks, loudly and clearly(a few quiet chortles can be heard)

"A phallus is a penis dear."
Now just close your eyes for a moment and imagine what a lecture hall of three-hundred, twenty-somethings looks like giggling and snorting en masse. We were practically rolling in the aisles. It was a sight to behold because you know the power of that many people laughing, it's palpable.

It took a good five minutes for every one to calm down, which doesn't seem that long until it's a room full of people guffawing, it's like being at a red light. The laughter slowed to a din and then the teacher said,

"Ok, everybody, let's get it together and move on."
Funny yes but not even the best part. The best part? About twenty minutes later my mind starts to wander and I start reliving the scenario in my head again. I'm enjoying it, I'm really picturing it, remembering the details and I start to laugh a little. No audible laugh, just the air through the nose pop pop sounds of suppressed laughter. Then Heather sees me and she knows exactly what's going through my mind and she starts trying to stiffle a laugh now too because it's totally quiet at this point.

We are emitting almost no noise but eventually, tears are rolling down our faces and the row in front of us notices and starts going into the stiffle too. Then the row behind us notices because our shoulders are shaking so hard, and they fall prey to it. Then it's our whole section and then it spreads like the wave at a stadium across the lecture hall until everyone, save for the girl and the professor are again rolling in the aisles.

We laughed so hard I was worn out afterward and had a dull rib ache. That poor girl probably never opened her mouth to ask a question again. Good times, good times.

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3 comments:

RiverPoet said... July 22, 2008 at 3:20 AM  

Oh my God! I'm afraid I would have been leading the laughter, evil as I was at that age. How could anyone in college not know what a phallus was?? Hilarious!

I'll bet she lists it among her life's most embarrassing moments!

Peace - D

Prok Aryot said... July 22, 2008 at 8:06 AM  

I had a dimwit in my anatomy class raise her hand and ask about "man-tits" during the lecture on glands, etc. She didn't say "man breasts" or "enlarged mammaries" or anything slightly more appropriate. (heck, even moobs or manmarries would have sounded less trashy) She actually said "man TITS". Apparently she didn't learn anything from an entire lecture hall of students ridiculing her, because when we covered the reproductive system a few weeks later she wanted to know about "male shrinkage". What a classy gal...

floridagirlinsydney said... August 7, 2008 at 5:57 PM  

That's hilarious.

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