Lucy and Peter after class, Vance Hall, UNC
Almost without fail, Tessa and I have journeyed to Chapel Hill every year to teach one of Dr. Peter Kaufman’s classes at UNC. And without fail, it’s always a fantastic trip, getting to dip our toes in the undergraduate experience once more and meeting a cadre of cool kids. I use the word “kids” self-consciously, because every time I step onto campus, time stops and I am eighteen years old again, wondering what Jon, Chip and Bud are doing for dinner. In essence, I don’t feel that different from them, even though they were born in 1987 and I have a toddler who keeps yelling “Daddo has ears!”
This year’s classroom was a little more subdued, a little harder to entertain. I know it well, since that was usually my class. I remember taking Max Steele’s creative writing course at UNC and him telling us we’d been a really boring group. I recall agreeing with him, but it’s all about chemistry, right? The identical group took Doris Betts’ class the next semester, and we tore the place up with hilarity and hijinks.
Anyway, this year’s theme was Revenge and Forgiveness – which was perfect for Tessa’s film Five Wives. Conveniently enough, it was also perfect for their other assignment, which was reading my “Why I Hate Dook” articles from 1990 and 2007. Tessa elaborated on the finer points of media criticism and painted a complicated picture of her father’s racism, classism and attempts at showing true love.
I made jokes about Christian Laettner. I feel it was a well-rounded class.
Peter Kaufman remains an enigmatic, tortured, brilliant teacher with strains of unfettered pessimism and luminescent idealism. He’s recently had the best-selling book of his career (Incorrectly Political) yet opted to forgo a book tour in order to teach his classes. The hour of RELI 40 he taught on April 22, 1990 was the last formal education I ever had, and I couldn’t have gone out any better.
My wife and I, while very different people, are oddly nuanced, occasionally contradictory, bizarrely eclectic, mistrustful of organized religion but beholden to tradition, and quite sentimental. We were even unsure of our definition of marriage, and spent months trying to parse it out. Who else but Peter could have married us?
August 9, 2003, 7pm – Columbia County, NY – about to rain eight inches