Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back to School or: Public Underwear Sighting

In the past 48 hours, I have attended 3 of my classes, taught one class and saw some sad pair of underpants sitting in a parking lot.

Yes, the college students are back in town and things are as they should be.

Here's how my classes went:


Have I mentioned that I think this is quite possibly the semester that will kill me? If I don't blog for more than a month, you'll know that I was crushed by a stack of peer-reviewed journals.

Here's how the class I teach went:
Most notably, as I anticipated, we had the return of Stinky Girl. She no longer stinks so badly that your eyes water - the BO is gone, which was actually a refreshing surprise. She did, however, still stink of cigarette smoke. Question: How is it that some people are smokers and you'd NEVER know it by smelling them (unless they admitted it in a drunken confession) and some people smell like their name should be "Wendy the Dancing Ashtray?" But I digress.

She did, of course, make some random comment about South Park that had NOTHING to do with what we were discussing. I think I'm going to get LOTS of TV references from that girl and that's not good. However, a colleague gave me a solution (we shall see if I actually have the chutzpah to use it): When a student comes up with a random, off-the-mark comment to a question that I have posed, I should say, professionally and politely, "I'm sorry. I'm confused. How does that relate to my comment about teen pregnancy, exactly?"

And then - of course - and I mean OF COURSE!!!! - her phone rang. Again. Like it did (twice) the first day of class this summer. This is what I mean by "Designated Mess." I had 40 students smashed in that pathetically small classroom and did anyone ELSE'S phone ring over the course of an hour and a half? No. No one's. Just hers. And since it happened to her this summer, wouldn't you think she'd be that much more likely to TURN OFF HER DAMN PHONE? And again, we had some wacky, ring-tone song playing (the theme from Rocky, I think) and then she was all, "Oh my gosh - so sorry" - and we all waited for a minute and a half while she rummaged through her bag (which was actually a fairly small purse) and Rocky got louder with each chorus.

There's more that happened in that classroom, but I'm too mentally exhausted to detail it at the moment.

I noticed a sign outside of my office yesterday that read, "Blood Drive Friday. Get a pulpy smoothie!" I don't even know what a "pulpy smoothie" is - although I can certainly hazard a guess - but I really don't think you should write about one in the same paragraph as blood. It's just not a good visual. Those folks who organize the university blood drives need to take a marketing class.

As I drove home at approximately 6:30 p.m. today, I passed the Chipotle that is right on the edge of campus. There was (LITERALLY! I swear on a stack of Inappropriate Sister-approved Bibles!) a line out the door and halfway into the parking lot. People. I suppose some people might say that food is "good" - but it ain't THAT good. Is cafeteria food THAT bad? People are willing to wait outside in the RAIN?! It's just burritos and shit - it's not like you'll be getting front row seats to the U2 show.

This morning, as I walked through the puddle-filled parking lot, a flash of purple caught my eye. I looked again (maybe it was purple money?) and there, in the middle of what was probably the only empty parking space on campus, was a small pair of women's underwear. Boy shorts, to be exact, trimmed with about an inch of peach lace. Sort of sporty-kitschy, if you will. They had been rained on, and I'm guessing they had been taking up that parking space for at least a few hours. I don't know, and I don't want to know.

Oh, yes. School is back in session. Officially.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

How Did This Happen?

Did I mention I am also teaching freshman orientation? The woman who runs the program is an old friend of mine and she was desperate for faculty instructors. Because I never pass up an opportunity for blog material am practically a freakin' saint, I agreed to help her out.

The freshman moved (or should I say infested) onto campus last week.

My orientation class met on Friday. On the roster, I have all kinds of information and guess what?

These COLLEGE FRESHMEN were born the year I graduated from high school!!

That is sick and wrong and someone needs to fix that now.

And also? One of the female students told me she didn't like her name (we were doing an ice breaker about the origin of our names) because it was so "old-timer" - her name? Karen. Yeah, get out the walker and the Ben-Gay, Karen!

Karen is now an "old" name? I understand Ethel, Ruth, Ruby, Pearl, Hilda and Bertha and even Sadie (although apparently, the name Sadie is enjoying a comeback). But Karen?

Damn. I'm old. How did that happen?


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

To Bring or Not to Bring?

School starts Monday. "Eeek!" about sums it up.

As I was tweaking my syllabus, trying to come up with more rules for my students to ignore, (maybe, please shower at least 24 hours prior to attending this class) Mr. J. made a suggestion: "Perhaps if you're going to require your students to staple their papers, you should bring a stapler to class with you. You know, so you'll be the cool and really nice teacher."

I was incensed. "First of all," I huffed, "I am not cool. I may be deluded about my abilities in a variety of areas, but never - not ever - for one second have I been under the impression that I am cool. So there's no point in trying." Really, once I embraced my inner band-geek, my life got so much easier.

"Also, I have a lot of stuff to carry. A lot. For example, on certain days, I have to carry about 50 cans of Play-Doh. On other days, I carry an extremely large tackle-box-looking thing that contains every type of contraceptive known to woman. Sometimes, it's just those giant flip chart Post-It Note things, and if that isn't enough, there's always my book, the instructor guide, handouts, quizzes and any of their papers that I'm returning. I don't live in that classroom. Do you see me there, now, putting up giant cardboard renditions of puppies and bunnies on my bulletin boards? I don't have a desk - I REFUSE to become a traveling office supply kit on top of everything else."

"I'm just sayin'," Mr. J. said. This is his new saying. He is not from Texas, but you'd never know it lately.

"What?" I demanded. "What are you saying?"

"I'm just saying that maybe if you carried a stapler and maybe you lowered your expectations, maybe you wouldn't be so pissed off and huffy all the time."

Lower my standards to preserve my sanity . . . let me say that again . . . lower my standards to preserve my sanity.

"No," I pouted, sounding much like a three-year-old, "I won't."

He sighed. "Okay," he said. "I think it's going to be a looong semester."


Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Although we haven't closed, and there are a number of points at which the deal could fall through, our condo has sold.

Do not congratulate me. I am not excited. I am the opposite of excited. I am despondent and dejected.

I grasp the irony - many, many people would LOVE to sell a home in less than 3 weeks, in this part of the country, in this market. I am not one of those people. Personally, I was hoping our place would stay on the market for at least a year, so I could enjoy our beautiful new cabinets and sparkling new appliances just a little while longer.

But it is not to be. Just in case the first week of school doesn't suck enough, what with my classes and the handing over of large sums of money for my textbooks, and students in a constant state of confusion, I can add moving to the list of things that make it suck. Oh - and notice how I didn't mention where we're going? Yeah, that's right. We don't know. All sold out and no place to go.

Sorry gang - I know nobody likes a pity party, but here we are.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

School is Unofficially in Session

A student e-mailed my advisor some questions about sexually transmitted infections. She answered his questions, while copying me on the e-mail. She gave him my name as a resource and all I can say is "thanks." Ready for this? Here we go:

The Introduction
hi, its joe blow that student whose called you a few times, and
the last time i called you were on a day trip and asked me to email
you my questions, so this is the time when i could so here they are and thanks

Is it really, REALLY so difficult to correctly use punctuation? An apostrophe here or there, and perhaps, I dunno, correct capitalization? I blame text messaging for the demise of both.

The Questions
what are the most serious std's in general (least treatable,
most unpleasant for the longster duration of time and most debilitating or deadly

The longster duration of time? And also, what happened to our friend, Mr. Question Mark? Do you hate him?

Now this one I am including at my own risk, because I know it's going to bring the pervs to my site. And not just any pervs - the pervs who cannot spell (even worse, I think.)

and do you need to use gloves when you fondel a person's genitals.

Hmm . . . Your university e-mail has a spell check function my dear friend. Please employ it occasionally.

Oh - this one is my personal favorite, because he transforms a noun into . . . what? An adjective? Veronica Mitchell, I know you will be able to help me. Behold the horror:

can you open mouth kiss and/ or kiss anyone who's not
visably herpied or whaterver without worrying about aids to
much. i mean, not many people ever get aids from kissing right?

"Visibly herpied?" That is one for the ages. I don't believe I have EVER heard that. And now, since it's made its way into the lower levels of my brain, that basement where I store the mental trash, I have no doubt that the next time I teach the chapter on STIs, I will say something about being "visibly herpied" - much to my dismay.

Oh yes, technically, school doesn't start for another week and a half. But in reality, it's already started. I'm going to celebrate by hiding under my bed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Insult to Injury

Poor Minnie. This morning, she had to go to the groomer's. I may have mentioned that Minnie has all kinds of "issues." But here's one I will never understand: Why on earth she gets so excited to ride in the car when: 1. She gets car sick and pukes violently at least 50% of the time (and yes, I've thought of not feeding her - stomach bile puke-gagging is even WORSE than food puke. Well, for Minnie, anyway); and 2. She never really goes anywhere good. She goes to the groomer and the vet, and that's pretty much it. Now, I realize dogs don't think like humans (at least not most of the time), but if the only two places you ever went in a car were places where you either got a needle stuck in your hindquarters, or you were manhandled and shaved around your, um, female dog region, would you like to get in a car?

So, of course, poor Minnie got NO breakfast and of course, there was some stupid traffic jam with lots of stop-and-go traffic (VERY bad for Minnie - she does best on freeways, etc.,) and of course, Minnie puked up her stomach bile, all the while I was trying to say comforting things and not get us killed by a semi at the same time.

After the humiliation that is the groomer's, we come home to find MORE signs put up by the realtor. Already, we've had a time or two when people have requested a showing and neither Mr. J. nor I were home. We keep Minnie gated in her basement paradise - the food! the bed! the squeaky toy! and we have told our realtor that ya just don't pet Minnie. Our realtor is supposed to pass this info on to any other visitors. But for the most part, I really plan to be home with her during the showings. I can just take her for a nice, extra-long walk while strangers parade through my home with their dirty feet.

Aside: She's a rescued dog, I've had her for 3 years, I've spent (literally) thousands of dollars on vets and trainers trying to figure out was she abused? Is it a thyroid thing? Is she in pain? Is there a physical reason she's doing this? Point is - please don't ask me, "Have you taken her to a trainer?" I HATE when people ask me that. Like, "What? A trainer? What is it? I've never heard of that! How would I even go about attempting something like that?" The answer is, "Yes, and then some."

On the frame of the doorway to Minnie's basement paradise, we now have this sign. Oh, the humiliation. Why not just write, "Pox" on the doorway instead? Poor Minnie.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Thanks, 'Cause I Was Confused

Has it come to this? Are Americans really that stupid?

I don't want to get into the hows and whys, but yes, we will be moving and yes, our house is on the market - new kitchen and everything (sobs, takes deep breath, exhales, reminds self not to kill spouse, etc.,)!

We had our first open house today and Minnie and I made ourselves scarce. We came home three hours later to find these little cards on everything. Next to the patio door: "Patio." Next to the cabinet: "Maple cabinet." On the steps going upstairs: "Carpeted Stairs." On the bookshelf in the bedroom: "Built-in Bookshelves." And my personal favorite, on the window seat: "Window Seat."

Are potential home-buyers that clueless??!? Like someone might walk into our bedroom, take one look at the window seat and say to spouse, "Hey - honey - what, what is that thing? It's next to the window and it's not quite a bench. I wonder if you could sit on it. What could it be?" And then, luckily, they see the computer-printed card and exhale a sigh of relief. "Oh, thank goodness - I was scared there, for a minute. Look at that little sign. Well, I'll be jiggered. It's a 'window seat.' How fascinating."

Stupid open houses.

Friday, August 11, 2006

How I Met My Husband: Part III in a Series

I cannot believe the last time I wrote about this, it was back in June! I hope you'll find this pathetic story was worth the wait.

I had two years of circus-freak dating between the end of one relationship and the beginning of the relationship with my husband. I truly am grateful for those two years now, but at the time I thought the cosmos had a really, really sick sense of humor. Near the end of those two years, thinks were starting to get really bad. Exhibit A:

My friend Sondra set me up with one of her former co-workers. At this point, I had reduced my standards to just a few things. Namely: Does he wear jewelry? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the men in my family only ever wore wedding rings and watches, or perhaps it has to do with the fact that my ex-husband wore a freakin' hematite strand of BEADS (weirdo!), but I do not like the men I date to wear jewelry. Sondra assured me that Matthew did not, in fact, "wear gems." (Her words.) We went on exactly one date. During dinner, he asked me, "What do you suppose happens to the souls of all the poor little aborted babies?" (Seriously, WTF?!?!? To quote a friend of mine, "Am I in a skit?") Dude, you've got the wrong girl. And even if you had the right girl, is that really first date "dinner" conversation? I think not.

I ignored his subsequent voicemails (I know, I'm brave like that) and then finally he sent me a heart-breaking e-mail about how he thought we really "clicked" and he was so confused and was there something he did or didn't do that perhaps he could fix? So, I tried to write the nicest e-mail I could think of and said something about how I was really off-the-chart pro-choice, and his question kind of freaked me out. Then he e-mailed me back about how he just loves kids and he is one of 5 and how his parents did such an amazing job (barf!) and he can't WAIT to be a parent, and he was just, you know, kind of wondering. It didn't mean he was anti-abortion or anything.

Like the true coward I am, instead of picking up the phone, I continued in this non-sensical e-mail vein. I had my get-out-of-jail-free pass. Kids!? I'm out. That simple. My uterus is not set up for boarders. No vacancies. I e-mailed him that sorry - but clearly, we were not a good match, since he wanted to start his own basketball team, and I was not exactly the maternal type.

Then, he e-mailed ME back and said it was okay - he didn't necessarily have to have kids if the right person was in his life.

Oy. So sad, really. We're all just lookin' for a little love, a little companionship and some of us are a bit more desperate than others.

And this isn't even the date I was going to write about - this was just a prelude to the straw that broke the camel's back! Perhaps another post today is imminent.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

As It Turns Out . . .

You can shop yourself a little happy!

I have been in an absolutely stinkin'-foul mood the past two weeks, for reasons I won't go into at the moment. But I'll give you a hint: Have I mentioned how much I hate moving? Because I hate it with the "red-hot heat of a thousand suns." And have I mentioned how many times I've moved since 2002? Three. That's right, three. Grrr . . .

In an effort to feel better, rather than eating or drinking myself into a zen-like state, I decided to accomplish a zen-like state via shopping. And you know what? I think it worked. Check out my new patent leather red pumps. Is there anything more appropriate for a sex educator to wear on the first day of class? I think not.

Savior, thy name is Nordstrom.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

The One Book That . . .

I came across this meme over at Happy Chyck and I really liked it, so I am going to give it a whirl. Here we go:

1. One Book That Changed Your Life: All right, I'm not trying to get all controversial on your asses, but this book was unforgettable. And I believe it was instrumental in making me so passionate about women's issues. It is gripping and gruesome and horrifying. Or, as the review from Library Journal reads, "Moving, but not for the squeamish."

2. One Book That You've Read More Than Once: Although I've never even been to Alabama, almost every summer I reread Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. It makes me want to learn how to make fried chicken and biscuits, and sit out on a big wrap-around front porch and shell peas. And that is SO not me!

3. One Book You'd Want on a Desert Island: Tough one. Probably something I've never been able to bring myself to read, but feel guilty about not having read. Something like Anna Karenina or War and Peace. I just hear the name Tolstoy and I get sleepy. But on a desert island? With nothing else to read? I'd tear through it, I just know it!

4. One Book That Made You Laugh: I had to buy this book, because it always makes me laugh so hard I cry, although it's not a "story" - and I read once that the author actually "copied" someone else's book, so I shouldn't even own it. But I do. I freakin' love Letters from a Nut. My favorite line: "I ate a Starburst and some Skittles at the same time, and I was startled!" I know - I'm so juvenile.

5. One Book That Made You Cry: While many, many things can make me cry very easily, books, for some reason, do not. The only book that made me cry was Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs and Me by Jon Katz. It might have had something to do with the fact that I'd just put our family's dog to sleep months earlier. Maybe. I'm a sucker for animal stories, obviously.

6. One Book That You Wish Had Been Written: Something called, "Just because you're in your mid-twenties and all your friends are getting married, that doesn't mean you have to!" Or something kind of vague and non-specific like that.

7. One Book That You Wish Had Never Been Written: Anything by Dr. Laura. She's a bully, she's a hypocrite and she's so self-congratulatory. It's nauseating, really.

8. The Book That You Are Currently Reading: I just finished it last night, and it's one of the few (non-fiction) books that I really wish I had written myself. It's a quick little read, and the whole time I was reading it (over the past 2 days - I told you it was a quick read), I kept thinking, "That's exactly right!" and "That's what I think," and "Gosh, that's exactly what I was thinking - only I couldn't articulate it." If you're the least bit alarmed by the insane focus on appearances in this country, the obsession with plastic surgery and the whole "porn star" fascination, you must read Female chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy.

9. One Book That You've Been Meaning to Read: The list is long. Where do I begin? Freakonomics? The World is Flat? And of course, some old feminist classics I've never finished, like The Feminine Mystique and The Second Sex. Does that mean I have to turn in my feminist card?

10. Five People To Tag. Similar to Happy Chyck, I'm just not big into tagging people - I don't want anyone to feel pressured into anything. So, if this type of meme floats your boat, go for it!


Friday, August 04, 2006

What Year is It?

I didn't take Mr. J.'s last name. But this post isn't really about that and all the reasons I went that route. Maybe another time - or maybe not. This is about how in 2006, some people are still confused and shocked by my choice.

Monday morning, I went to a new doctor. I had to show up 30 minutes early to complete the paperwork. The first thing they asked for (of course) was my insurance card. Since Mr. J. is the slave to the man gainfully employed, he has the good health insurance. So his name is on the card.

After I completed four hundred bazillion forms, I returned to the little drive-thru window thing to find the receptionist sticking a label on a file folder with my first name and Mr. J.'s last name. I was confused, because I made the appointment in my name, and I gave her my driver's license, which also has my last name. For the sake of this conversation, let's pretend my last name is Jones and Mr. J.'s last name is Smith.

me: Oops - um, that's my husband's last name you've put on my chart there. My last name is Jones.
Receptionist: Oh. When is the divorce final?
me: What?
Receptionist: Well, if the divorce is final, then you're probably no longer covered by his insurance.
me: I -- I'm not -- I mean, that's, there's no divorce, I just, my last name is Jones.
Receptionist: So, you're legally separated, then?
me: No, I'm - we're married.
Receptionist: What's your maiden name, then?
me: It's the name I have now, Jones.
Receptionist: (Sighing in exasperation) No, your maiden name means the name you were born with.
me: Right, Jones.
Receptionist: Silence. Stares at me like I'm being difficult.
me: I never took my husband's last name. I'm married. To him.
Receptionist: Oh, so Jones is the name of your first husband? Then I still need your maiden name.
me: I - uh - (thinking, how did she know I have a "first husband?" - Or maybe it was just a good guess.) No. Jones is my name. The one I was born with.
Receptionist: So, I need to make this chart with Jones on it, instead of Smith?
me: Right.
Receptionist: Says nothing, shakes her head and sighs, making a big deal of dramatically ripping the label off the file folder and typing a new label.

I'm sorry - what year is it? Is a woman not taking her husband's last name that mystifying? Never mind. I have my answer. I just thought we'd "come a long way, baby."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I have often said that between Mr. J.'s talents and mine, we would make one hell of a really intelligent, well-rounded person. Separately, we both have our strengths and (in my case, many) weaknesses.

My weaknesses? Too numerous to list here. I don't even know where to begin. Do I start with "subjects I may easily fail", like math and well, mostly math? Or do I begin with personal traits like, "Couldn't keep her desk clean if her life literally depended upon it"? Easily distracted, lazy, tends to procrastinate, overemotional and prone to fits of drama to name but a few - and that's not even line one of the list.

I think of Mr. J. as insanely more intelligent than I am - after all, who but the insanely (hmm . . . ) intelligent would voluntarily teach college Calculus - for fun? In his spare time? So imagine my surprise during this conversation last week:

Mr. J.: Josie (Mr. J.'s 19-year-old niece) crashed her car the other day.
me: Oh my gob! Is she okay?
Mr. J.: She's fine, but the car is totaled.
me: Casey (Mr. J.'s overworked, underpaid, single-mother-of-three-kids sister) isn't going to try and buy her another car, is she? I mean, Josie's in college. And Casey absolutely can't afford to buy her a car!
Mr. J.: I know, that's what I told Casey. That's Josie's milk to clean up.
me: Huh? Josie was drinking milk and she spilled it on herself and that's why she crashed the car?
Mr. J.: No - you know, it's a saying. "The person who spills the milk has to clean it up."
me: Yeah, I don't really think that's the saying. I think it's, "Don't cry over spilled milk."
Mr. J.: Whatever. You know what I mean.

What's the funniest malapropism you ever heard? (Or said?)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's Too Damn Hot

to sit at the computer - leather chair, you know. Hence, no real updates or stories, just a general wondering about an important question:

What song lyrics did you completely misunderstand for a long, long time?

Yes, yes, I know there's this whole site already dedicated to it, but the site's too big and I'm too lazy, and I had these stories LONG before that site existed.

A few of my favorites:
  • I thought the Clash's Rock the Casbah was Gobs of Tampons. Yes, there are lots of entries for this song in the Archive of Misheard Lyrics, but I don't think that one is there. Even as an awkward pre-teen, I was already becoming a sex educator. Who knew?
  • A college pal honestly thought Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar on Me (in the name of love) was Poison Shooting on Me, in the neighborhood.
  • My brother (when he was much, much younger, of course) thought Billy Idol's Hot in the City was actually Hot! Diddle, diddle.
  • This one isn't an especially original "mishearing," but for years, I thought Manfred Mann's song Blinded by the Light was Blind Date by the Light, (wrapped up like a douche) - again, a career in sex education was already in my future!

So, tell me: Which song(s) did you get wrong? Don't be shy - we've all been there!