A couple of my professors from college on the East Coast are in town for the MLA (Modern Language Association) conference this week. My girlfriend and I are getting together with them over the weekend and I'm looking forward to that.
They are world travelers. What's more, their travels incorporate original research on English, German and South African writers, and visits with intellectuals they've befriended far and wide. They live a rich life.
Their presence in Seattle prompted me to do something yesterday I wouldn't have otherwise (and that I haven't revealed to them). I checked out the conference schedule, found a short list of sessions open to the general public, and wandered over to the hosting hotel - just across the street from my law firm's downtown office - to attend one.
Before I find the right ballroom, permit me to remark that the milling academics in the lobby of this particular booking of the Sheraton differ from the attendees of the startup and tech networking events I frequent.
A gatekeeper waiting at the top of an escalator asked me if I had a badge. With the bravura of a fully tenured professor, or else an asshole lawyer, I said I was there for a public session and demanded he point out the way.
The session was about "literary" language. Four professors delivered prepared remarks, and then professors from the audience asked questions disguised as monologues of their own. If I had had my eyes closed, I might have thought the academics were talking past each other. But body language suggested they were regarding one another and that they all felt they belonged.
A road not taken!