The title cannot adequately describe what happened while teaching yesterday. Clearly, an explanation is needed.
Yesterday, is one of the days that I teach. I have 2 classes, and the professor I TA for was going to sit in on the classes. This is not just any professor. This is THE most badass political scientist in my field. Yes, I may be a bit biased, but he is one of the two professors who made moving from the warmth of the South to the craptacular weather in the Midwest worth it. He, of all people, was going to be sitting in on my classes to evaluate me. Oh.My.God. I was already a bundle of nerves and felt like dying.
The first class went off without a hitch. My students were talkative and fantastic. They enjoyed the exercises and the selected campaign ads. I was able to speak and have a decent discussion with Dr. Amazing in the room. Naturally, I felt confident going into the second class just an hour later.
I shall interject a thought at this point. I have learned that whenever I begin to get confident, something usually follows to bring me back down a peg or two. I must have done some really really crappy stuff growing up that I don’t even remember doing because this backlog of karma bites me in my ass every single time it can.
Class number 2 begins and I felt like I was rocking it. I had pulled up the 5 campaign ads I was showing, I handed out the surveys I had lovingly crafted, and began showing the first one: I Like Ike
Somewhere in that pause between completing that ad and opening up the It’s Morning Again in America (Reagan 1984) ad, the Campaigns circa 1800 theoretical ad began playing in the silenced audio-visual equipment land. YouTube was on autoplay (apparently) and that short little ad had finished and went on to an episode of Drunk History. For those who may not have seen Drunk History, its a show where they get Historians rip-roaring drunk and have them explain a story from history. Naturally, it gets a little wild.
I go to show the Reagan ad and un-mute the AV equipment and there’s good old Drunk History talking about INCEST! And that guy is talking about incest in a way that only a drunk historian can. Something along the lines of “Incest, just plain old incest” came out of the speakers as a boat calmly sailed on the harbor in the video they were supposed to watch.
“That’s not it! THAT IS NOT IT!” came flying out of my mouth as I struggled to mute the AV Equipment quickly enough. I figure out the problem quickly and in an effort to save face, I roll with it.
“I am so glad that this could happen when Dr. Awesome is with us today” and do my best Vanna White impression toward the screen.
Death would have been a welcomed friend.
I pulled it together, played the remaining ads (Reagan’s, Campaigns circa 1800, Daisy Girl, and Obamaville) and we had a lively discussion regarding all these fantastic ads. We discussed the primacy of affect (Zajonc 1980, 1984; Lodge & Taber, 2005; Casino & Lodge, 2007) and how individuals make candidate evaluations more on their summary tally of emotional impressions (Lodge, McGraw, & Stroh, 1989; Lodge, Steenbergen, & Brau, 1995). We talked about why attack ads are advantageous. If an individual votes against Candidate A, then Candidate B basically has a free pass to do or say whatever they want. A person voting against Candidate A will not be persuaded to change their minds. Voting against someone is basically more resistant to counterattitudinal stimuli (Bizer & Petty, 2005).
As soon as class was over, Dr. Awesome bolted and on the inside I was like “NOOOO! Wait!!”
I drug myself up to my office floor, stopped to my friend’s office (which is the first office beside the elevator), told her the story. I then drug myself to my office, flopped down, put my head on my desk and told my office-mate (the guy one). We all had a good laugh, while I felt like dying.
The only thing that cheered me up and made me feel okay was calling my professor, mentor, and friend from undergrad – Dr. Batman. He got his PhD from this same university and knows all of the professors. I explained the event and he cracked up. He then said “If you get any trouble from it, remind him that you are my student, so what could he expect?” Then he gave me about 10 insane stories of things he messed up working with Dr. Awesome that made mine pale in comparison. Clearly, he wasn’t fired – so neither will I.
I can now laugh about this, without wanting to simultaneously die. Who knows – maybe Dr. Awesome will like me more now. Who knows?!