Teaser 185: I Made a Fateful Suggestion

We had accomplished what we intended on my first visit to Mali in one week and, while it seemed a bit melancholy during the second weekend after we had reached several highs in such a short time, I constantly reminded my hosts and their numerous guests who seemed to pop up at their residence continually the success we had achieved so far merely paves the way for my eventual return to begin our experiment in earnest. During a somewhat somber discussion with Esperanza's students, I made a fateful suggestion. “You all three are well into your Masters programs at the university, and Northridge, from what I gather, prides itself as a progressive university, unconventional in many respects, so there's nothing stopping you from appealing to your Deans and professors to arrange your Masters completion here, in Mali. The work you will be performing is in accordance with your studies, you have a professor, untenured yes, but still a professor who is supporting you, and all your courses which would normally require your attendance can be modified so you can attend classes and lectures remotely, take tests remotely. It can be done. The school and your professors need only agree to it.”

Kitana frowned. “How would we do all this remotely, Gregory? Nowhere in your layout is there any computer facility.”

I smiled widely. “Oh, there isn't? Did I forget that?” Kitana, Alfred and Bernard all nodded their heads strenuously. “It must be one of my milder surprises.” Eyes narrowed. “We'll connect to the internet via satellite from the electrical facility, we'll have some computing and networking in there and perhaps around the compound but we'll also have many access points scattered about. Anyone should be able to reach the internet anywhere on the grounds whether using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, whatever.”

“And you were hiding this because?” Bernard chided.

“I can't remember everything, Bernard. I'm an old, white man. I'm lucky I remember to zip up my fly in the morning.”

“Do not start with that, Gregory!” Kitana warned me.

“Mademoiselle Farabé, it might amuse you to learn that I have on some mornings forgotten to do such a simple task as zipping my fly, having a large number of things on my mind and so few resources devoted to convention and discretion, but when I do discover my lapse, I manage to move away from everyone and pull up my zipper in the hopes no one has seen it thus, since it is still embarrassing for someone like me to forget it. I am hardly perfect, but I like to maintain the illusion.” The male members of my audience, which had grown in the small number of seconds for this discussion, all smiled and a few laughed. The female members, I noticed, frowned.

“I would never find it amusing, Monsieur Hess,” Kitana advised stone faced.

“And there may come a morning months into this when I walk into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and you will casually notice my forgetfulness and you will say, 'I see you decided to pull up your zipper after your morning coffee, Gregory.' Immediately after which you will discover the level of embarrassment I can reach, and my only response, once I do pull up my zipper will be to exclaim, 'Touché.'” Even Kitana laughed at the possible spectacle. I added, “While I'm no Albert Einstein, I believe his greatest failure was forgetting to pack his underwear, but I don't remember reading anywhere about his failing to pull up his zipper or button his pants. At least he never suffered the level of embarrassment I have on occasion.”

- Just Desserts, Segment Twenty-ThreeA Magnet’s Attraction” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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