Time: December 26th, some time in the twentieth century. Place: A wood-paneled faculty club, somewhere on the eastern seaboard. Three male faculty members are sipping sherry and smoking pipes. We catch them in mid-conversation.
Professor A: "I had a devil of a time getting out of the house too, Fred. Why, the children wanted me to play with them again today! What is it with this time of the year?"
Professor B: "My wife wanted me to stay at home, too--something about a holiday being family time. Don't they know I need to Think Deep Thoughts?"
Professor C: "And I'm even worse off. My wife hasn't had time to fact-check the citations for my latest article, and she hasn't typed a scrap of manuscript for me since this whole thing began!"*
Silence. Puffing of pipes and sipping of sherry.
Professor A: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get away and talk to each other about something that mattered, like scholarship, instead of being at home with the family?"
Professor B: "That's a great idea! We could stay away until all the mess was cleaned up and return just in time for New Year's Eve."
Professor C: "We could meet in New York, or maybe sometimes in Chicago, for those on the West Coast. We're already in the Modern Language Association; how about holding that meeting right after Christmas? We're all free then."
Professor A: "It would get us out of the house."
Professor B: "No more messy family time!"
Professor C: "It's a good thing that no women would be going to this convention. Why, their heads would explode, if they had to get ready for Christmas AND get ready for MLA."**
All: "A woman at the convention? Hahahahahahaha!"
And that, dear friends, explains why many of us will be getting up at the crack of dawn to fly to distant cities in about a week.
Updated from the comments:
Sally: Now WTF am I going to do with my kids on Jan 4 when they should be in school and I have to go to the New Improved Women Friendly MLA??
*Seriously. I heard a grad director say once that it was good for grad students and faculty members to be married, so their wives could type their papers for them.
**Seriously. Why do you think I'm writing this at 4:30 a.m.?