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The Nutty Professor Redux


by Crabby McGrouchpants


"We really shouldn't laugh." (Noam Chomsky, in a 2011 Tin House interview)



            - Hello, Professor.
            - Hello, how are you doing today?
            - Fine, fine.  I appreciate your sitting down today to answer a few questions.  Lots of people are curious about you.
            - I know, I know.  I am a bona-fide genius and it is gratifying to elucidate the plebian masses.
            - "Elucidate"?
            - Yes, "elucidate."  "Elucidate" the plebian masses.
            - But, "elucidate," means, like, "underscore," doesn't it?  Or "draw attention to," or something?
            - No, that's wrong.
            - Don't you mean, like, "educate," or maybe, "enlighten" . . .
            - No, no, that's totally wrong.  It's clear just from your saying that that you're not a bona-fide genius professor like me.  I am a linguist, after all.  I'll still deign to talk to you — since you're paying me — but I won't take you seriously, for the rest of this interview, and for the rest of your life.
            - Gee, thanks . . .
            - Well, you have to admit, I'm pretty smart.
            - I guess . . . what do you mean by, "I'm a linguist"?
            - Didn't you know?  I'm a professor of linguistics.  How did you even get in here without knowing that?  I've published over a dozen books, and countless articles in very respectable and highly-thought-of journals.
              Not that you could read them and understand them . . .
            - Gee, thanks again . . . no, what I meant by asking, "What do you mean, 'I'm a linguist'?" is: do you speak several languages?
            - What are you talking about?
            - I mean, that's what a "linguist" is, right?  Someone who studies languages?  Like, you learn lots of different languages, or several anyway, several you can speak fluently . . .
            - I really don't see where this is going.
            - . . . and you compare and contrast them to see the differences and similarities?  That's what you necessarily have to do, or so I thought . . .
            - No, no, it's becoming abundantly clear to me that you are not a bona-fide genius.  In fact you are in a category that is pretty far from "bona-fide genius."
            - What category is that?
            - It's a category we Bona-Fide Geniuses call, "Idiot."
            - Well, gee, th- . . . you know, I'm starting to wonder how many times I'm going to have to say, "Well, gee, thanks . . ." in the course of this interview.
            - You could not talk.
            - Well, g- . . . (sighs) I don't know what to say at this point.
            - Well, that's because you're not a linguist!
            - Well, neither are you!
            - I'm interpreting your words 100% correctly and can absolutely assure you that they mean: nothing.
            . . .
            - Do you get out much, Professor?
            - How so?  You mean to lectures?
            - No, I mean, you know, say, a walk in the park, or, take in a movie, or, maybe take a chick out to dinner, show her a good time, get a few drinks in the both of you, you know, maybe get laid?
            - "Get" . . . what?  I'm sorry.
            - "Laid."  You know, fucking?
            - Oh, I don't do that.
            - You don't?
            - No.
            - What do you mean by that, precisely?  It sounds like you've taken a position on it or something.
            - Well . . .
            - . . . or, I guess, taken a position on not taking positions.
            - It's not for me.
            - It's not . . . what's not?  The physical expression of love . . .
            - No . . .
            - . . . or love itself, or both?  Have you sworn both off?
            - Well, I love myself, anyway.
            - Yeah, I was thinking that.  You can kinda tell, truth be told.
            - Yes, it's true.
            . . .
            - You must jerk off a lot.
            - Well, I . . . this is no good.
            - What's no good?
            - You're bringing in life experience here.  Real life experience outside one's head.  You see, I don't do that.
            - You don't?
            - No, I stay in my ivory-encrusted tower and write books for other people to use in their real-life experience.  I just sit on the sidelines, you see, and comment on that in which I do not partake.
            - "On that in which . . ." you mean you're like a referee?
            - Yes, exactly.  A referee.
            - Who appointed you?
            - Myself, of course.
            - Yes, that always seems to be the way.
            - Yes, it is, isn't it?  Except, in this case, I'm right, so there you go.  I comment on the other self-appointed referees . . .
            - . . . yes, there's so many, it's hard to keep track . . .
            - . . . and let you know what they're doing wrong.  Rather than go out and risk making mistakes like the rest of you.
            - Yeah, thanks, you've been a great help . . .
            - Of course.  No problem.
            . . .
            - You know, Professor . . .
            - Yes?
            - . . . it's an indisputably ugly business to suggest anyone's books be BURNED . . .
            - . . . yes, of course . . .
            - . . . because of what could happen to other people's books, people's feelings about writing, and life in general . . .
            - . . . yes, yes I see . . .
            - . . . but what I am going to recommend in my article is that people buy one, new, full-price copy of whichever of your books . . .
            - . . . why, yes, thank you . . .
            - . . . and take it home and wipe their asses with it.
            - I'm sorry?
            - You know, poop?  "Poop," professor?  When these people, living their real life experience, have to go poop . . .
            - . . . well, I don't go poop . . .
            - You don't go poop?
            - No.
            - Not at all?
            - No.  Why should I?  It's beneath me.  It's disgusting and dirty.
            - Yeah, but . . . I don't understand how this is possible.
            - What do you mean?
            - How can you not go poop?
            - Well, I hold it in.
            - You hold it in?
            - Yes.
            - What do you mean, "hold it in"?  Like . . . indefinitely?
            - Well . . .
            - How long?  How long's it been, Professor, since you went poop.
            - Well . . . seventeen years.
            - Seventeen years?
            - Yes.
            - Quite an accomplishment, I guess . . . though I'm not sure what kind.
            - Well, you couldn't do it.
            - Yeah, I guess.  I guess I couldn't do a lot of things.
            - That seems to be becoming evident.  More and more so.
            - I couldn't be a linguist without learning several languages — which you've managed to've done, or "not done," I should say . . .
            - . . . yes, yes . . .
            - . . . and I couldn't not poop and not fuck . . .
            - . . . of course!  You have no self-control!
            - Obviously.
            - You're not a Bona-Fide Genius!
            - Of course.
            - You haven't attained Mastery of the Self!
            - Uh . . .
            - You still make mistakes!
            - Yes, foremost of which was coming here in the first place.  I told my editor this would be a waste of time . . .
            - Well, to you, maybe.  But what about me?  What about my feelings?  How would you like to be a Bona Fide Genius, stuck talking with an Idiot?
            - Yeah, that must be hard.
            - It's terrible!
            - You can't imagine how much I ache for the pain you must be feeling right now.
            - Thank you!  That's very empathetic!  And, of course, I deserve it!
            - Of course.
            - Of course!  Yes, you've got it.
            . . .
            - You know, Professor, I think we've got enough for the article.
            - Really?
            - Yes, I think this'll be good.
            - That's great!  You think it'll show me in a light appropriate for me, being the Bona-Fide Genius that I am?
            - Yes . . . yes I do believe that it will.
            - That's great!  I'll sell more books, and have the opportunity to "elucidate" more people!
            - Yes, yes, of course.
            - You did say you'd tell people to buy my books, right?  Apparently you had some specific purpose in mind, I don't recall . . .
            - Don't worry.  I do.
            - You do?
            - Yes.  I do.  I'll do what I can to motivate people to buy copies of your books with that specific purpose in mind.
            - That'd be great!
            - Yes.
            - More "elucidation."
            . . .
            (holds head in hands)
            - Yes, yes of course.
            - What is it?  Are you feeling ill?
            (perks up)
            - No.  No, professor, actually . . . I think I just need some air.
            - Some "air"?
            - Yes.
            - What is that?
            - Well . . . let's just say I need a walk in the park.
            - Sounds good!  For you, anyway.  I'll stay in here.
            - Yeah, I figured you would.
            - You go out and I'll stay in here and watch you make mistakes.  And comment on them.  And publish books letting you know what you're doing wrong.
            - Well, great, but in order to get to the park, first of all I have to turn the corner there and then you won't see me . . .
            - Yes, that's true!  Thanks for pointing that out, Idiot.
            - Yeah, no prob, look, gotta go though!
            - Okay, it was a pleasure talking to you!
            - Yes, I'm sure it was mutual.
            - What's that?
            - Goodbye, Professor.
            - Oh, goodbye.



for Miranda July,
who wrote me back when I sent her a letter in 2003,
and inspired me to move to Portland















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