On the last day of term one of my students dropped by my office. She's someone I've mentioned before--a smart, funny woman who's taken three consecutive classes with me. She graduates later this month and is in the process of applying to grad schools.
I've always been fond of her, but we're friendly in a purely professional context: she'd drop by to talk about a paper or to ask for advice about grad school, and although I was likely to joke around a bit or share a relevant personal story or two, that was the extent of our intimacy. In some ways I've wanted to know her better, but she clearly has a strong sense of the faculty/student divide--and that's a feeling I share.* In theory? Hanging out at the bar with one's prize students (as a certain recent ex of mine did) sounds kinda cool. In practice? It strikes me as totally weird and uncomfortable-making for everyone. . . and suggests, moreover, if not the desire for then at least the complacent acceptance of a cult of personality.**
But. On this visit she told me that--if it wasn't too weird, or inappropriate, or whatever--she and two of her friends (also my former students) were hoping that I might be interested in going out for lunch with them sometime after break.
There are still things, apparently, that can warm the cockles of my cold, cold heart.
*A number of my freshmen have friended me on Facebook. I find this weird.
**This is not to say that I reject utterly the idea of having a cult of personality. But to me that cult is best maintained from a distance: the front of the classroom, say. Or the text of one's blog.