February 21st, 2012


Your First Doctor Moment

I had this friend in college, and he and I were inseparable, like Han and Chewie.  Whenever one of us would do something, the other would follow, which was how I got roped into attending a private house party he’d heard about from a flyer that someone had given him.

I questioned both the entertainment value in a room full of strangers and also the safety of such a thing.  But he really wanted to go, and so we did.  We arrived at this house and discovered that several professors from our school’s biology department were there, and also the teacher’s aid for our natural sciences professor that semester, Dr. T.   We made light, awkward conversation with these professors, who seemed a little needled about us undergrads invading their space (we were early; there was no one else there to talk to) until one of us asked “is Dr. T coming?”  And one of them said “I should hope so; this is his house.”

Yes, we had accidentally gotten an invite to our professor’s party.  He and his partner had just had the entire house spongepainted by hand and were hosting a gathering to christen it.

His house was lovely–colorful, sparsely and tastefully decorated–and he gave us the tour.  I wandered into an upstairs office space to look at something, a desk, I don’t know.  I thought the room was pretty bare and unfinished, and then I turned around to exit.  On the wall beside the door, corner to corner, floor to ceiling, in perfect order, were shelves containing books.  Identical in size and shape.  Lovingly arranged.  Hundreds of books, at least.  Maybe over a thousand.

Each and every single goddamn one of them was a Doctor Who novel.

This was years before the current show got popular, and my only impression of Doctor Who at that point was of a British science fiction character with a big scarf.  But I was transfixed on this collection.  Even if I didn’t know a thing about Doctor Who back then, I was still an English major, and a dedicated library was something to appreciate.

Dr. T soon found me, still mesmerized.  When we spoke, it was quietly, in shared reverence of his hoard, as though we dared not disturb the books.

“I’ve been collecting them for years,” he said.

“Have you read them all?”

“I’ve read about ninety-five percent of them,” he said, completely candid; “they’re terrible.”

This is one of the weirdest memories I carry.  Since I was in the middle of a marathon sprint streaming Doctor Who episodes before I cut the TV cord, it’s been on my mind.