Today I got to my class fifteen minutes early, which meant the lecture hall was deserted except for me and the professor. He is unflaggingly friendly, so by sheer force of will he managed to extract some small talk out of me, when my actual impulse was to sprint out of the room and return when everybody else was there. After some extremely forced banter, people started trickling in, and soon all 80 or 100 seats were filled and class was underway.
Midway through, of course, he picked me to demonstrate the day's topic: how to serve someone with papers when they're sued. "Now if I want to serve Mr. Dunn," he bellowed, in his distinctive Long Island twang. My blood rushed in disparate directions as I looked up to see him bounding towards me, holding out a fake summons. He repeated the process several times (what if I rejected it? What if I said nothing? What if I put it in my pocket?) all the while repeating my name, rolling it around his thick accent. Instead of its usual, neutral mid-Atlantic pronunciation, it was like the D of my name was followed by a 'th' sound, and he seemed to separate the two N's so that they each vibrated in the air, painfully, like a bad hit with an aluminum bat.
I can never move to Long Island, I thought. And stop getting to class so early.