Many advice columnists attempt to carve out a niche for themselves (saving money, love, raising children, race relations…even Carolyn used to cater to the 30-and-under set), but the most famous boutique advice columnist is, no doubt, Miss Manners. She’s also the only one whose readers seem to understand and obey her emphasis on polite society rather than internal anguish and family dilemmas (or maybe she just has highly attentive editors). Nevertheless, even she can’t escape the occasional query about (young) (forbidden) love:
Dear Miss Manners: I love science. The year before I made sure that those were the only kinds of classes that I was going to get and I did get my classes, only to end up falling for the teacher teaching one of my classes, Biology 2.
He is six years older than me, and he seems to be the ideal man for any girl. I fall in deeper as the days go by, but I understand that there can be nothing between us, that it is impossible because he and I have our separate lives and goals, we are going in opposite directions. I know that what I feel is fake, I know that it’s a crush, but I doubt it because crushes don’t last a whole year, and when I am with him I’m really happy.
Is it really OK for me to feel this way about my teacher? I would like to have your opinion.
Gentle Reader: This letter is one that Miss Manners should not consider. From the etiquette point of view, how you feel is your business as long as you behave yourself.
But heck, lovelorn advisers often presume to dispense etiquette advice. No doubt Miss Manners’ advice to the lovelorn will be of the same quality.
You cannot, of course, embarrass your teacher—and probably endanger his job—by flirting with him. But as you love science, it would seem reasonable of you to become a biologist. If you work really hard at it and win the Nobel Prize and return to campus to tell this teacher that you owe it all to him, Miss Manners promises that he will find you irresistible. Presuming that by that time, he has not acquired a wife and six children.
(snarfle). Thanks Miss Manners!
P.S. FWIW, I can’t help but think this this crush started long before this semester’s Bio 2 course…the letter’s tone and vocabulary (teacher vs. professor) make me think it was written by a high schooler. And in what high school can you take ONLY science classes? That’s certainly not typical, and while it perhaps can be finagled, such a feat would take the blind persistence of unrequited love, not just a fondness for the subject (which would, no doubt, be tempered by an understanding that higher level math education is also necessary in this field). I’m not sure the writer of this letter is being entirely honest about his/her predicament. Then again, when it comes to sticky predicaments, who is?