Of all of my Weird but True Yale stories, this may be my favorite—the time I egged my professor.
Sophomore year, I took a class called Daily Themes. It’s one Yale’s oldest and most iconic courses, and I highly recommend it to everyone, no matter your major.
Five days a week, every student in Daily Themes crafts an original, one-page work of creative writing (a theme) using an assigned prompt. These prompts are always really fun and challenging. For example,
- “Write a theme in which some law of nature (gravity, day following night, logic, 2+2=4, etc.) doesn’t apply.”
- “Write a theme in which you pervert or twist an old cliché, of plot, phrase, or language.”
- “(Adapted from 1983 Daily Themes syllabus:) Write a theme in which a character does something genuinely evil, yet within the boundaries of everyday experience….”
One unique feature of Professor Oppenheimer’s version of the course is that the prompts were not always written. He thought each week we should write about a shared experience, something a bit more tangible. He called them Happenings—random, wild, and student-curated events that happened weekly in the middle of his two-hour lectures, often without warning or explanation. And we got to suggest them!
Well, after the first day of class, I immediately emailed him with my idea.
Here’s a very paraphrased summary of how that conversation went down:
Alec: I want to crack an egg on my head in class.
Prof. O: That’s a great idea.
Alec: Or maybe you can crack it on my head?
Prof. O: Even better, you should egg me.
Alec: Eggscellent. (Gosh, I wish I said that.)
Prof. O: About one hour into the class, stand up, yell something about not liking the lecture, then throw/crack eggs at/on me.
Alec: I’m so eggcited. (Also wish I said that.)
And that’s how it went down. I showed up to the class with four eggs in my pocket. It was a lot colder than I had planned, though and I was worried that my eggs would freeze and if they were frozen there’d be no splat and if there was no splat then there’d be no egg yolk running over his blazer and no eggshells slowly falling to the floor. And at that point, it’d just be like chucking golf balls. So, I did the only sensible thing anyone would do—I sat on my eggs like a Mother Hen.
Well, my brooding must have worked, because when I finally stood up; yelled, “This lecture sucks!”; and threw the eggs, they cracked perfectly. One struck his podium, the other his stage, and the third, I cracked above his head.
“Out! Out!” he screamed back at me, and on my frantic way out, I somehow managed to break the door handle in the hundred-year-old lecture hall. Whoops.
I ran around the building, delivered the paper towels, and came back to Professor Oppenheimer letting all one hundred students know that they had to write a theme inspired by my egging.
Apparently, it led to fruitful essays, because one year later, I received this email:
Prof. O: “Will you reprise the egg this year? Guest appearance?”
Yes, our professors are brilliant and wonderful and the heads of their fields, but they also are creative and light-hearted and willing to be silly. And that’s eggsactly why I love them so much. (Finally, nailed it!)
Here is a fun, albeit blurry photo montage of my second egging.