I dreamed I would become a celebrity. I would no longer be an assistant-adjunct-temporary-part-time instructor of English. Instead of searching for a chair in an office that doubled as storage area for cast-off furniture, I would have a safe chair in a dressing room, a hairdresser, a make-up artist, a publicist, and Little Debbie chocolate peanut-butter wafers at the snap of a finger. Instead of being surrounded by stoop-shouldered word workers who trudged in like ink-stained Oakies, I would be surrounded by beautiful Botox-ed, liposuctioned people.
How would I get to become a celebrity?
Well, I would have to think of new ways because the old ways--being born into a super-rich family, posing for Playboy, having sex with the right men, having sex with women, getting busted for drugs--had all been used up.
I wanted to be a celebrity and not an assistant-adjunct-temporary-part-time instructor.
After all, here I was with a Ph.D. that I had worked long and hard for, and Paris Hilton who didn’t know how to read instructions on loading a dishwasher was more famous than I. So I decided to capitalize on my uniqueness. After surveying college students for years, I realized that very few people have read Plato.
"Play-doh?" they’d say, eyes glazing because I was not getting into a heated debate on gender, race, and class.
"No, no," I’d say. "The great philosopher, the scribe of Socrates who said that the unexamined life is not worth living, who introduced the Socratic method, dialectic, who was condemned to death because he challenged the prejudices of a people living in a popular democracy. And in The Republic, the dialogue on justice, where he introduced the idea of philosopher-kings…"
The snoring was drowning out my enthusiastic rendition, so I had to end it there and divide the class up into 'groups' where they could entertain each other with their own brilliant insights and witticisms.
After having such experiences over the years, I became dejected. But then I observed that it is not really what one does or knows that gets one attention. I thought of changing my last name to Marriott and having a reality program where I would go around to college campuses and grade papers of other professors’ classes. I thought my grading calculus papers or engaging in a discussion on nuclear physics would make for interesting viewing, but I couldn’t get past the intern at the major production studios.
So, I decided to take out the meager funds in my IRA for a retainer for a publicist. I told the exquisitely coiffed and fashionably attired 22-year-old what I wanted: "Tell the world that I have read Plato’s dialogues."
"Who?" she said, looking up from her Blackberry.
"Plato," I said, "the great philosopher."