I was teaching as an adjunct professor in an inner-city community college district working desperately toward a tenured position.
I spent close to four years at that place busting my ass, too: besides working over-time all the time, I volunteered a lot, as well as sat in on every faculty meeting I could (even the ones that weren’t required) making sure to contribute everything I had up my sleeve just for a shot at that coveted gig — tenure.
When the gig was officially announced, I was one of 400 (or so) candidates for consideration.
A month later, there were three: myself, The Competition, and The Other.
The Competition was a middle-aged woman who was very competent — and excellent instructor who cared about her students — and happened to be hard of hearing. I think she was legally deaf, but I’m not sure. All I knew was she had a disability, and I didn’t; hence, she was one up on me…and it was a big one up.
The Other was a poet who just earned his MFA and taught the 6th grade. He wasn’t much of a threat; after all, he wasn’t qualified for the position, and I knew the only thing The Other had going for him was his close friend was a poet as well. His close friend taught at the college with me, and that’s the only thing that had gotten The Other as far as he had gotten. After all, The Other hadn’t taught a day in a college classroom.
I had almost four years in the classroom at that college under my belt, an unsurpassed student rapport, high evaluations from my superiors, and all sorts hours volunteering.
So did The Competition. Plus, did I mention she was deaf?
We interviewed for a committee of five. I got a fresh haircut and wore my very best suit…one that I used to wear when I sold stocks and bonds and taught wanna-be brokers how to pass the Series 7. I was very confident, too; three of five of the committee were my pals; one I scored “boo” for when his supply was dry.
I called this The Equalizer — she might have been deaf, but I scored weed for one of the committee members who sat on the hiring panel.
Weeks went by without a word. No one, it seemed, was getting hired. We were all tense, but we pretended like it wasn’t a big deal. Then, the word came down from administration: “Due to a lack of diversification in the hiring pool, the position will be offered as an adjunct professor for a one-year-only contract.”
Administration in inner-city schools believe minorities learn best from other minorities. In other words, a young black man, for example, learns best from a black professor, which is an opinion I highly agree with. But what happens when there are no minority candidates qualified for the position? Well, in my case, just take the position away, offer it again the following year, and hope to God a qualified minority applies.
All three of us agreed to take the adjunct position — if it was offered to us — and reapply the following year for the tenured job.
That same day I was axed, leaving The Competition and The Other.
I was stunned. What went wrong? Did I say something? What part of my hiring packet was incomplete? Did I fuck up my application? Maybe the lesson I presented The Panel was off?
I went to see Professor Boo. I really liked Professor Boo…I still do. He was an old beatnik poet, and he lived in a cold-water flat in Greenwich Village in the 60′s, and he was the kind of worker who dies before retirement, and he could tell some great stories: one of my favorites was when he would catch Thelonius Monk at the Five Spot in, and he’d show me how Thelonius would just jump up from his piano in the middle of a tune and dance around the stage and then plop himself back into his bench and hammer out more notes without ever missing the beat.
Professor Boo was no where to be found. I did find Professor Cunt, who was a big mouth know-it-all with a PhD from NYU (I think) so I guess that means she was a know-it-all, but there’s cool know-it-alls and know-it-alls you can’t stand, and no one could really stand Professor Cunt. She wasn’t on my hiring committee, but the way people talk in academia, I knew she would know why I wasn’t hired.
“My dear, don’t you realize that being gay is a diversification?”
This made immediate sense to me, but you won’t understand this…until I tell you that The Other was gay, and, in fact, he was The Lover of The Poet who taught in my department. Professor Cunt was smiling, and she might have even giggled a bit, but I wasn’t smiling…or laughing.
“So if I wear a dress tomorrow and start sucking a whole bunch of cock do you think I have a shot at the position next year?”
She stopped smiling. And I went into my office, grabbed the biggest box laying around, and packed my shit and hauled ass.
That week a friend of mine called. He had started some dirty websites on the internet, and he needed original content for them, and he wanted to know if I was looking for work.
The next month I was up in the hills of Malibu, high above the Pacific Ocean in a very secret place, working for a dude named Dogfart and a site called Blacks On Blondes.