Why Genius And Power Tools Don't Mix

So it's probably an apocryphal story, though my brother and uncle, who both studied with the gentleman, many years apart, say it's entirely possible. I heard it second hand.

This professor--we'll just say his name is George--is renowned for his dreamy absent-mindedness. He actually forgot (and this I heard from several people) that he was a Protestant observer to Vatican II, and left his wife a hasty note on the kitchen table when his ride to the airport showed up: "Dear, Gone to Rome for Vatican Council. Will call soon."

Here's the story. One day George was outside his office when a student engaged him with a question on something, Bonaventure's Christology or the like. Midway through George's disquisition, the student notices that George's shoelaces are untied.

"Professor L-," says the student helpfully, "your laces are untied."

"What?" says George?

"Your laces, sir; they're lose."

George, still expounding on Bonaventure, sits down in the hall; sits down, as it was put to me, "on his butt, like a six year old," and starts fumbling with his laces, talking all the while.

This goes on for several minutes, until, suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, George looks down at his occupied hands holding the tangled laces. He stops talking and a look of consternation comes across his face.

He looks up at the student, then back at the laces. Then--get this--then he takes the untied laces, stuffs them into the cuff of his sock, stands up, and goes on talking.

They made George a dean.

Jorge Luis González

Last modified: July 5, 2001