She was gorgeous and we were alone. It was more than 10 years ago, during "office hours" at my campus office at Ohio State. I was teaching undergraduates and this one had come to me for a private conversation about our promotional strategies class.
Shortly after "hello," she smiled and offered this summary: "Professor Isaac, I’d do anything for an A."
"What?" I asked. I’d heard the proposition quite clearly, but "What?" was all that came to my mouth.
She repeated her statement: "I’d do anything for an A. Anything for you. Anything."
Did I already tell you that she was gorgeous and we were alone? She was. We were.
"You’d do anything for me?" I asked. "Anything?"
"Anything," she assured me. As the old joke goes, she’d offered her honor. And I might honor her offer. (And that’s how I’d be all day, on her and off her?)
"Anything, huh," I thought. The possibilities were tantalizing. "Would you…umm…."
I looked deep into her eyes and spoke very slowly: "Would you…read the assigned readings…speak up in class…do really well on the midterm and final? Would you do that for me?"
"Yes," she said quietly, looking down. The conversation was quickly over. She left the office.
I’ve often thought about how lucky I was. (Not how I almost got lucky.) If she’d been angered by my smart-ass, sincere rejection, she might have falsely claimed I’d sexually harassed her. She could have left the office shouting about how I had propositioned her. In any case, she seemed embarrassed and I was sorry for that.
But I was also angry. "Anything," I thought, but never said: "Gee, to win an A you would do anything? You mean you would be willing to ruin my marriage, divide my assets in a divorce, and irreparably harm my life and the lives of my wife and kids? You’d be willing to get me fired from Ohio State? You’d do all that for me? For an A?"
Ever since then, I haven’t held office hours. I don’t meet individually with students in private. I’ll meet them over lunch in restaurants or for conversations in Young Isaac’s glass-walled conference rooms. They come to dinner with my family. Or we meet in groups of more than three people. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to accuse an aging geek in a bow tie of lustful impropriety.
And you know how this world simply loves the fall of man.
What a country.
For more on this awkward topic, click here.