Friday, November 18, 2016

On My Knees in the Teaching Assistant's Office

San Francisco, May 1997

I liked chemistry class in high school -- or rather, I liked the fact that it was 90% cute science nerds who carried calculators with the logo "Chemistry is Chool."

But in college, I had constant problems.

The professors taught for chemistry and physics majors rather than general education students. They started with five-dollar words and grad-school concepts.

"Today we will be discussing hydrogenic orbitals, and the failures of heteronuclear diatomics in predicting molecular bipolarity."

Um...atoms are the building blocks of molecules....

And the labs: Mind-boggling configurations of glassware and piping that required  mechanical genius to put together.   

I dropped Chemistry 101 twice, and took Physical Geography and Paleontology to fulfill my physical science requirement.


Over a decade later, in San Francisco, I was dating Kevin the Vampire, who was totally into the sciences, talking about atoms and molecules almost as much as he talked about hot guys.  Gradually I developed a passion for the sciences again.

"You liked chemistry in high school, didn't you?" he told me one day.  "Why don't you become a chemist?  You can get your undergraduate work done right here, at San Francisco State, and your doctorate in Berkeley, across the Bay, and give up this silly idea of going across the country to New York to do graduate work in...what was it...ring tossing?"

Kevin really didn't want me to leave.

"Are you kidding?  I'd have to start over, take elementary chemistry, calculus, physics, then the advanced classes, before going to graduate school.  It would probably take ten years.  I'll be 46 years old when I get my Ph.D."

"And how old will you be in ten years if you don't get your Ph.D.?"

So in the winter 1996-97 quarter, I enrolled in Chemistry Class #3.

San Francisco State University was only 5 miles from the Castro, 20 minutes away on the Muni, but still, I felt like I was going into another world.


90% of the students were male, cute science twinks but intensely heterosexist.  I was asked about my "girlfriend" and "wife,"asked to comment on this or that actress, nudged when an attractive girl passed.

Um...guys, the Castro...gay people exist...

Still, I liked the class enough to apply to study chemistry full-time at San Francisco State.  They said that with summer classes, I could finish a B.S. in Chemistry in two years, and go on to a M.S. in their new field of Biochemistry.  I wouldn't even need a doctorate.

In the Spring 1997 Quarter, I enrolled in Chemistry 102.  The lecture section was ok, but the lab was taught by a graduate teaching assistant, Seth.

Granted, he was rather cute: tall, slim, pale, with a shock of blond hair, blue eyes, horned-rimmed glasses, prone to wearing button-down shirts and black slacks that showed a substantial bulge.

But he was imperious, a stickler for the rules, rather nasty to the students, and very, very heterosexist.  Apparently he was from Marin County, the rich heterosexual enclave north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and he had never heard that gay people exist.

"Oh, guys, time to get your minds off girls and onto the experiment."

"This procedure is easy, like the first time you kissed a girl."

Or maybe he had heard of gay people:

"Better not spill that acid.  It would be more painful than if you went to prison and had a cellmate named Big Bad Bruce."

Homophobia?  In San Francisco in 1997?  Really?

Near the end of the spring quarter we had an experiment with a lot of different beakers,
Erlenmeyer flasks, condensers, pipettes, tube, and so on, just about everything in our lab drawer.   It took forever to assemble, run the experiment, and disassemble.

Afterwards, when I inventoried my drawer, I found that a beaker was missing!

I went to Seth, who told me that stealing was frowned upon.

"I didn't steal it!" I exclaimed.  "Someone else probably grabbed it, thinking it was theirs."

"So you broke it.  Same difference.  You have until Monday to replace it, or you fail the lab session, which means you fail the course."

"Where am I supposed to find a new beaker?  A chemical supply company?"

"If that's what you have to do.  Just get it done by Monday."

That night, when I complained during our date, Kevin said "Beakers shouldn't cost more than a dollar or two.  Why don't I'll have a little chat with this Seth?   I'm good at persuading the recalcitrant.  I persuaded you to date me, didn't I?"

Kevin the Vampire did have an uncanny "mind control" ability.  It didn't always work, but sometimes, if he looked at you right, you would do what he wanted.  

So the next day we took the Muni down to San Francisco State University and went to the teaching assistant office, a little windowless cubbyhole next to the chem lab storeroom.

Seth was actually in the lab storeroom, inventorying chemicals.  He turned and eyed us suspiciously.

"You were quite right, Boomer," Kevin said. "This teaching assistant of yours is quite attractive."

"Do you have the missing beaker?" Seth asked.

"Um...yes...about that," Kevin inched gradually closer as he stared in that way of his that turned your knees into jello.  "Surely you realize that it's silly to accuse Boomer here of stealing it."

"Well...if he broke it, he has to learn to be more careful."

"I'm sure if you inventory the adjoining lab drawers, you'll find it.  Or allow me to pay for it.  Here's a dollar."  He pulled out a dollar and pressed it into Seth's hand.  He began to tent noticeably.


"And one more thing.  You've been making some unfounded assumptions that every male student is attracted to women.  Well, at least one is attracted to men.  Perhaps, as a way of apologizing, you'd like to show him your penis."

"Um...well..."

"You want to, don't you?"

"Well...I guess that's fair."

Kevin stepped back and closed and locked the door.  Seth pulled a thick Bratwurst from his pants, fully aroused.

"Very nice.  Boomer, would you like to go down on our friend Seth?"

I got on my knees and started sliding up and down on Seth's very hard penis.  Meanwhile Kevin put his arm around Seth, unbuttoned his shirt, and reached inside to fondle his chest.  Soon they were kissing, and Seth was fondling Kevin through his pants.  I pulled Kevin's penis out and went to work on them both at the same time.

Seth finished very quickly, and nearly collapsed in Kevin's arms.  "That was intense.  I've been with guys before, but...that was intense."

"Yes, Boomer is quite the expert, I must say. Well, it's been nice chatting with you...and such."  He pulled me to my feet and led me toward the door.

"Wait...you...um, can't just leave.  Will I see you again?"

"There's a possibility," Kevin said with a smile.

In the only remaining lab session, Seth was cordial, but not overly friendly, as if the night in the lab store room never happened.  But shortly after classes ended, we began having him over for "sharing."

By July, Kevin and Seth were having dinner with each other, and leaving me out of it.

By August, Kevin had a new boyfriend, and I was in New York, studying for my Ph.D. in something besides chemistry.

I'm not saying that the two facts are connected, but they probably are.

See also: A Sausage Sighting of a Straight Philosophy Professor


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