Oh, good day … Charlene, is it? Please come in.

No, you weren’t interrupting anything. Just an old man staring forlornly at the prison walls these shelves of books have become. Self-made walls, at that. Curious that a life spent opening one’s mind to all things in heaven and earth can be a life spent closing off one’s body from the enjoyment of God’s most wondrous creation. Have I been a man lo these 75 years? I have known not the supple curves or passionate kiss of a woman.

Yes, of course, this is a fine time to discuss your seminar paper.

Ah! The Quixote! How majestic a portrait of a misguided quest! de Cervantes’ unerring yet sympathetic eye captures both the Man of La Mancha’s sublime nobility and his abject folly. Would that both had been vouchsafed me! Yet I fear I have only the latter. Charlene, I can tell by your nervous restlessness that you think such a condemnation far too harsh for such a man as I.

I, who revolutionized the study of furniture in pre-Philipian Iberia! Yet nothing in my vast scholarly oeuvre can ignite a fiery passion in these, my shriveled loins.

Are you departing so soon, Charlene? We haven’t even touched on the Quixote’s brilliantly embedded meta-fictional narrative.

Thank you for staying. It brings me great pleasure to hear the ideas of bright, young, nubile scholars. Charlene, you were always quiet in seminar, but now I see that those azure irises conceal a mind with a remarkable capacity for insight and analysis. And that downy sweater, I can only vividly imagine, conceals a pair of proud breasts whose pertness is surely unmatched in the Ivy League.

Please stay, my dear Charlene. I am simply telling you, in my old curmudgeonly way, that your work is of the utmost brilliance.

Do allow one so near the eternal darkness of the grave to bask in the luminance of youth. Do allow one who has wasted his life reading the works of men long since expired to enjoy, if only for a fleeting moment, a conversation with the living. Ah, Charlene! I feel rejuvenated by the subtle action of your lithe mind, by the captivating sound of your mellifluous voice, and by the sight of your lacy undergarments peeking demurely above your skirt. O! How foolish of me to have forsaken your sensual world for that cold, untitillating, flaccid world of the Forms!

Was it not the apogee of lunacy, Charlene?

If only I had world enough, and time, to right the balance sheet of my existence! I would no longer forsake the realm of bodies — neither my decrepit, withered husk, nor your ravishing, voluptuous figure. How we would spend our days, my dear Charlene! In contortions of ecstasy we would explore the heretofore unknown pleasures of the other’s flesh. No faculty ethics code could quash our desire or its orgasmic expression. But alack, though your expert hands could so effortlessly bring me, delirious, to that pinnacle of sensual pleasure, I fear it is too late in the day for this impotent shell of a man to satisfy your undoubtedly insatiable carnal appetite.

Is it, Charlene? Is it too late?

I can see by the way you are hurriedly stowing in your purse the third edition of my Silla: Seating and Temporality in Moorish Andalusia and anxiously casting about for your scarf that my idle ramblings have disquieted you. I apologize for my effrontery, Charlene, but I could not prevent it. I have too little time left on this earth to keep hidden these desperate cravings of my nether regions. Please forgive an old man his tortured cries of longing for what might have been, had he not squandered the precious gift of existence on comprehensively detailing the Lisbonian origins of the Renaissance faldstool.

Charlene, for Wednesday, don’t forget to look over chapter three in “Catalonia at a Crossroads: The Cupboard and Trans-Discursive Mythologies of Empire, 1392-1399.”

Farewell, my love.

Martin Glazier will not be teaching “ENG169:Writing the Modern Romance Novel” next fall.