Teacher’s pet: A sonnet to schooling

I unexpectedly ran into one of my former professors in the halls a couple weeks ago, and just about pooped myself. I’m usually more composed when interacting with people I find attractive, but I still haven’t quite mastered running into someone who is not only unwittingly hot, but also brilliant, engaging and mind-blowingly influential. Something like 20 percent of my graduate school personal statement was derived from his class and I wasn’t even applying for the same field. He was so good at what he did — a quality that would make him attractive regardless of what he looked like — and the fact that he is also objectively good-looking made me glad I was wearing something that hid my sweat stains.

Ah, there’s nothing like a teacher crush. It makes any class, no matter what the subject, the most interesting thing in the world. I never fail to have at least one per semester, much to the benefit of my studies. Of course, there are the all-time greatest hits — my seventh grade science teacher who was so boyishly fine he made all the suburban moms giggle, or my senior year English teacher who taught with so much flippant charisma that he became everyone’s fantasy despite his stringy, feathered hair. But more generally, I think there’s something inherently attractive about professors that has kept me falling all over myself for academia from puberty on.

I’m not thinking of teaching as some kind of qualification for being a good parent. I’m not one to swoon over pictures of men with oodles of small nieces and nephews and quite frankly, I find children kind of strange and gelatinous. The attraction for me is more in the selection of a (sadly) pretty thankless profession simply due to one’s love of the material. The best teachers (and the most attractive) are the ones who put their heart and soul into their subject, who love it so much that they devote their lives to sharing it with others. If anyone looked at me like my eighth grade history teacher looked at The Iliad, I think I’d probably just die of happiness then and there.

The passion, that’s what gets me. The sheer love of learning and sharing what you’ve learned is something I identify with more and more as I become increasingly academically inclined. I’ve been blessed to have had many passionate teachers, both in high school and at USC. There’s something so intimate about mentorship, allowing someone more knowledgeable to incorporate their world view into the way you perceive reality, other people, the way you see yourself. And being able to impart life-changing information to someone else in return, isn’t that what the best romantic relationships do?

If you’re looking to fall in love in your own class schedule, I’d suggest looking into “Origins of the Mind,” “Ancient Epic” or “Narrative Forms in Literature and Film.” I won’t name any names or guarantee you’ll feel the same as I did (I recognize I have an acquired taste sometimes), but those teachers have a zeal for their subject that makes The Notebook seem like a passing fling. Hot or not, you’ll fall in love with the subject matter. Moving forward, I can only hope I can find something I love as much, so that I can pay that passion forward as they have.

I just got into my dream program for graduate school (many thanks to my beloved professors) and all I can think is how grateful I am to have been surrounded by so much academic love. That includes you, dear readers, and the Daily Trojan for letting me spew my verbose romantic anecdotes to the masses. It includes my amazing coworkers and campus job that catapulted me into the field I hope to pursue for the foreseeable future. It includes my parents and friends and mentors for putting up with my rambling semi-revelations and grasps at something meaningful in all this madness. Hell, that includes Los Angeles for being the madness, for being full of flowers and singing birds and crazy characters like an Art Spiegelman take on a Disney movie. There’s so much out there to love. Remember that.

Thanks for reading.

Rica Maestas is a senior majoring in cognitive science and narrative studies. Her column, “Cuffing Season,” ran on Wednesdays.