Cocking A Snook Too!

Independent, Irreverent Unschoolers – or at least one – Take On the Universe

The Meaning of Flunkey February 9, 2007

I’m done. I’m just done. It’s not that I don’t like history. History is fascinating.

But not the way Donald H. Barry, PhD, teaches it.

As it happens, I am a good kid, have been for years, so I am not going to cause a scene.

I am not going to stand and cry “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” I’m not going to approach Donald H. Barry, PhD, and inform him that he’s a pretentious self-righteous blowhard.

Nay, I am merely going to meet with my advisor and drop this class. Because I am done.

I am done with multiple choice tests about irrelevant material.

I am through reading everything he tells me to read but not making As.

Something has changed internally – last week, my plan was to make an A in the class just to spite this idiot. But, as one of my boyfriend’s favorite t-shirts announces: I just realized……I don’t care.

I don’t care which Native American language was originally spoken

in Canada.

I don’t care who originally settled Brazil.

Most of all, I am not in the least interested in Donald H. Barry, PhD.’s opinions on capitalism, the Iraq war, or the educational system. But I find I hear about them a lot.

Now, I’m not reactionary, I’m not going to report him to the dean for blathering editorially in his classroom, I’m just through listening. I’m reminded of my family and friends’ sentiments about free speech: The DaVinci code bothers you? Then don’t read it! Gay marriage bothers you? Then don’t get one and shut the hell up!

I am not impressed that Donald H. Barry is a PhD. My mom is a PhD. So is my literature professor. So is Bill Cosby. So?

“You can make anything interesting if you want to,” Donald H. Barry, PhD says as he drones about economics. True. I just don’t want to.

My confirmation that I belong in a literature class came today in his lecture. To explain why, I’ll have to track back a little. In my literature course this morning, we discussed Chekov’s The Lady With The Pet Dog. We had a spirited class discussion about the angst-ridden characters, actually (”They just like being miserable,” was our ultimate conclusion). At one point, the male protagonist comments “How stupid and annoying all this is!” which, of course, feels like the theme of my time spent in this history class. But, more importantly, at one point Chekov chooses to use the word “Flunkey”. “My husband is a flunkey!” the tragically beautiful Anna sobs.

“What does that mean?” a classmate asked. “I don’t know,” the professor admitted, kindling my burning desire to find out what it did mean.

As I sat apathetically in what I had already decided was to be my last day listening to the verbal diarrhea of Donald H. Barry, PhD, he ran off on a Bush diatribe, and, suddenly, my ears pricked up as I heard the word foremost in my mind: Flunkey.

The fact that my mind focused on this concept, the question of what flunkey means, to the exclusion of all other blather issuing from this man, tells me that I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing: Majoring in English.

I care a hell of a lot more about the meaning of flunkey than anything else Donald H. Barry, PhD, has to say. So, as of today, I’m getting out of here.

Some people who’ve had bad sexual experiences have said they just “lay there and waited for it to be over.” I’m through sitting here and waiting for history to be over, for Donald H. Barry, PhD, to stop talking.

Maybe it’s naive, maybe it’s unrealistic, but I’m going back to my ivory tower now. I’m going to sequester myself in my creative writing and literature courses, to snuggle warmly against the fire of my interest. Because I’m done spending three hours a week being unenthusiastic. I’m just done.

I walked up to him after class, politely asked him what flunkey meant. He politely explained, I thanked him just as politely.

And then I left, a free woman, who now knows the meaning of flunkey.

I’ll be dammed if I didn’t get something out of that course after all.


4 Responses to “The Meaning of Flunkey”

  1. misedjj Says:

    You won’t mind if I borrow this to make a point at the other Snook? 🙂

    I’m incredibly proud of you . . .

    L:ove, Mom

  2. […] Because I’m done spending three hours a week being unenthusiastic. I’m just done. . .“ […]

  3. misedjj Says:

    Just thought you’d want to point out that the literature professor who wasn’t familiar with the nuances of “flunkey” is a native German-speaker, and the classmate asking for the definition also isn’t a native English speaker, right?

    How much more culturally authentic for you then — not only as literature but even as history-geography! — to spend time in thoughtful open-ended seminar-style discussion with select honors students who want to be there and care about the subject matter, than to spend time actively resisting the historically-labeled diatribes (same root as diarrhea? inquiring minds want to know!) and factoid-dependent test prep passing as higher history education in this large survey class.

  4. misedjj Says:

    OK, I was curious enough to look it up. The prefix dia- meaning “completely” is the common link between diatribe (to occupy one’s time completely) and diarrhea (to run or flow through completely) — and those “complete” definitions may not be synonymous but they ARE related imo!

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