Day 6: Fantasizing about a certain naughty professor is BTS

Where does one find them in Manhattan, these gentlemen who exude an air of mystery and menace?

If you’re in the mood for a tease and a delicious sadist, look no further than Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. When I first picked up the novella last year (a long, heinous decade after my years as a “nymphet”), I was expecting to read the literary godmother of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” video or American Apparel ad campaigns. Instead, Nabokov whisked me off to a world of precarious morality and erotic danger and, wouldn’t you know, he had me nodding in scandalized complicity with Lolita’s predator, Humbert Humbert. Very naughty, that Hum. 

Now I do not tolerate pedophilia of any sort but what fascinated me about Hum as an artistic creation is that he was in no way a loutish caveman but a wit and connosieur with, shall we say, very particular (albeit esoteric) tastes. Introducing Humbert Humbert – scholar, narcissist, devourer extraordinaire – who has this to say of his own virile splendours: “Let me repeat with quiet force: I was, and still am, despite mes malheurs, an exceptionally handsome male; slow-moving, tall, with soft dark hair and a gloomy but all the more seductive cast of demeanor.” Less eloquent words than these have reduced me to putty; a glimpse of his chest hair would render my surrender complete and this blog non-existent.

Whenever I’m bored on the subway, my eyes occasionally wander, absorbed in a private game of “Where’s Humbert?” as I survey the car for potential Hums. Lolita – which has since become the favorite of my Dangerous Liaisons – is to blame for the amorous tremors that men in their thirties and early forties have sometimes triggered in me. There’s something I find incredibly sexy about men who’ve grown into their sexiness and let it settle comfortably in their skin. Where does one find them in Manhattan, these gentlemen who exude an air of mystery and menace? I must admit that I’m quicker to swoon over a man’s mind than his chiseled pecs, hence my predilection for graduate school classrooms over sweaty gyms. For some reason, there’s an insouciant grace in the swagger of Hum’s kind – George Michael swaggering his way into toilets and public parks, however, is a different story.

While Humbert’s crime is unforgivable – he chose Lolita, after all, over me – my affection for him remains undiminished. For a day, sex is certainly worth trading for fantasizing about a guy who could’ve made NAMBLA a real contender if he played for the other team. What bliss that the spirit of my dark prince charming who would’ve given Dorian Gray a run for his cheekbones lives on in a NYU classroom or two, inhabited by a minority I fondly refer to as PILF or Professors I’d Like to…Fantasize About (since my blog forbids me to do that other thing). 

Play me again, Hum. 


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