Sniffing Books With Hans

On Shabat around ten o’clock, I met with my advisor for the first time. His name is Hans Morsink and he is Dutch. The man is like to type of character an actor on SNL might create as a professorial stereotype. To get to his office, I had to walk to the absolute extreme edge of campus. My dorm is in once corner of campus and his office is in the complete opposite corner in and old house called Smith House. When I got there I climbed up on to a dramatic porch, entered the building and made for his office, room 303. The third floor is markedly smaller than the first two, containing a bathroom and to offices smaller then my dorm room. He is of medium height and build, his hair is like Einstein’s, and he is dressed like one of those experts who appear on Nova. He is wearing brown driving moccasins, khaki Bermuda shorts, and a green Patagonia safari shirt with mesh underarms.

The office itself is full. There is room for the two chairs we are sitting in and nothing else. The office is piled high with everything. There is futon, most of which probably has not seen the light of day in a decade or two. There is a case of Jack Daniels, which he tells me to stop looking at. He asked if all my classes seemed like things that I really wanted to take. I admitted that I was a little unsure about Anthropology 4. “I tell you what you do,” he says. “Go down to the book store and take a look at the books. Pick them up and really give them a good sniff. Take a few big whiffs. If they smell alright, the class is a good fit.” I took big whiffs at the book store. I am now taking Anthropology 4 for real.

The way Drew assigns our advisors is by way of our First-Year Seminars. Everyone takes an FYS in some random topic (in this case, Philosophy and Human Rights) and the teacher of that class is your advisor. Shabat lunch was a brown bag lunch, which we ate with our seminar and our seminar’s professor. Hans had us all introduce ourselves saying our name, our city of origin, and something else interesting. Each of these took a good five-eight minutes because each interesting fact sent Hans on a tangential spiral to God knows where. In one case a rather shy girl was unable to conjure up anything interesting, Hans suggested she tell us about the longest road trip she ever took. In another case, the guy said his hobby was snowboarding. Hans said, “Good luck with that these days. I guess you probably took that up before it started getting warm like this.” At one point he referred to convocation as “Three big speeches and lots of advice.” He elaborated, “They probably said some pointed stuff, but who remembers, you know?” At one point he told a story and ended by saying, “That’s all hypothetical though. None of that was true. I never tell real things. It’s always example.” He paused. “So you know, you never know if I’m talking about anything I know about because it’s all with examples, see?”

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4 responses to “Sniffing Books With Hans

  1. Ahh. The memories of college professors past. I can’t remember who my advisor was supposed to be, but I ended up bonding with an Anthropology Professor with an office very much like the one you describe.

    His hair was also wild, but more along the lines of platinum blonde curls approaching (but never quite getting there) his shoulders. He hid his Jack Daniels, I guess… but he did have a lot of African fertility statues (both genders) scattered about….

  2. Hey David,
    I love this guy! He reminds me of me, only he has earned your respect.??? LOL
    Miss your brilliance & sardonic whit – I keep expecting you to chime in or chide me from the recesses of my room – it will take about a year to retrain my brain, alas.
    (ACL in one week!)
    Love you in a totally appropriate, non-creepy former-teacher way,
    Harkins

  3. Welcome to college!

    Your descriptions are fabulous. Can I use him, or some oddly metamorphosized version of him, in a story?

    My English advisor, before I switched my major, was a fat South African woman, who, incidentally, was more involved in Gender and Women’s Studies than with English, and who had a mole right above her lip. When prompted to help me find a course, she had to ask me where to find a course list online and then browsed the wrong database for the wrong classes for about a half hour, then balked when I tried to tell her she was in the wrong place. She scrolled through pages at snail’s pace. She told me I couldn’t be an English major if I did not take the class that was being offered on Beowulf, and then said I couldn’t be a writer unless I liked Shakespeare. She boomed more so than talked. I promptly ended up changing my major after my first appointment with her.

  4. Welcome to college!

    Your descriptions are fabulous. Can I use him, or some oddly metamorphosized version of him, in a story?

    My English advisor, before I switched my major, was a fat South African woman, who, incidentally, was more involved in Gender and Women’s Studies than with English, and who had a mole right above her lip. When prompted to help me find a course, she had to ask me where to find a course list online and then browsed the wrong database for the wrong classes for about a half hour, then balked when I tried to tell her she was in the wrong place. She scrolled through pages at snail’s pace. She told me I couldn’t be an English major if I did not take the class that was being offered on Beowulf, and then said I couldn’t be a writer unless I liked Shakespeare. She boomed more so than talked. I promptly ended up changing my major after my first appointment with her.

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