Those that teach in hypothetical disciplines like modern physics for instance, take refuge in the oddly and lonely corridor of many colleges and universities. Our offices are rarely visited by students seeking help in areas like Electricity and Magnetism, Relativity, or Statistical Physics. No, they stay away like uncertain two years old, leaving the handful of tenured professors plenty of time to stroll the corridor, looking for an open office door which they enter and begin or continue abstract conversations.
I am Dr. Mass-tely Jeenis, the endmost tenured professor in the department of Modern Physics. My areas of concentration are Special Relativity and The Physics of Energy. The highest point in my short career as an academic was being assigned an office across the Tenure Corridor and two doors down from the seldom seen, rarely revealed, and perfunctory campus mail drop of one, Albert Einstein, PhD.
His notoriety brought Quantum Physics out of the closet and into the corridor, where the curious walked past like Hollywood’s “Parade of Homes.” However, they always departed the same way they arrived, lacking a peak at genuine genius. I however was saddened, even angry, that his perpetual disappearance caused my colleagues’s conversation to descend as swiftly as Satan with arms chock-full of caterwauling souls, into unimpeded, green-eyed-jealous rumor mongering and unabridged innuendo as to the whereabouts of our celebrated celebrity wunderkind; our own ambassador of absurdity; that carny side show oddball.
Late last Tuesday and well into the night I myself sat chained to my chair, pouring over consciously boring drafts of fourth year thesis’s. It started distantly, quietly with determination and purpose, sounds which leapt from books by Shelly; the out-of-step limping, the shuffling of heavy limbs. The conventional gait of a clandestine and disfigured horror! I slowly pushed my squeaky-wheeled desk chair away from my desk, stood quickly, and tip-toed to the threshold of my office and waited. The sounds abruptly stopped across the hall and two doors down. Standing there, it continued to struggle with a thirty-nine cent cellophane tape dispenser. Finally it managed to hang a public decree on the frosted glass.
“Good evening, Dr. Jeenis. I hope your hyperventilation hasn’t caused you any harm,” Einstein said genuinely and continued “Come here Dr. Jeenis, will you? I would like you to read my notice.”
I literally floated and stood next to him. Surprisingly, he seemed no different than any other person. He was simply dressed, his hair was gray, long, and definitely an after-thought. He was, in a word, normal.
I began to read, “To All of you. Do not knock on this door. It disturbs the other offices. Which they then use as reasons to initiate chit-chats. I agreed to accept this position and honorarium on one condition. To Think. Alone. By myself. In silence. Absent of knock-knocks and chit-chats. You Are Welcome(d),” where he crossed out the last letter “D” in an almost childish hand.
“Well?” he asked.
I replied, “It’s certainly to the point.”
And then, from a faraway place he began to speak, “I’m so tired, Jeenis; I’m so tired of lying awake in my pajamas, listening to that incessant crackling of an ill-tuned table-top radio. It’s turned on for hours and hours and as I’m just begin to trail off my anger rises to the surface. Then I’m thinking Again; again I’m thinking no one listens to the ill-tuned table-top radio like this; for hours and then days. Who’d do a thing like that with no regard for his neighbors, windows open and curtains rolling. And so I get up, heavier with each surrender, angrier that I don”t go out and find the bastard! When dressed I find my bicycle leaning against a railing and start pedaling east, leaving that god-damn ill-tuned table-top radio behind me, back west, its volume disappearing with each passing street lamp catching my attention when suddenly I’m aware of silence.”
He then stepped forward, searched his pockets for a key, put it in the lock of his office and turned the deadbolt. With a push of his hand the door swung open. Inside were hundreds and hundreds of paper taped from floor to ceiling, on all the walls, even covering the one window. All the papers had some kind of annotation.
While walking into his office he turned to me and said, “This is what I’m thinking when I’m thinking about what I’m thinking, I think.”