ZOOM—Last Friday, Duke mathematics professor Gregson George opened his zoom lecture by saying, “Aaaah! Aah! Where did my body go?” in front of his online linear algebra class. The Fluke caught up with student Dora Flamingo (T ‘23) about the incident.
“I thought his body had really disappeared for a second,” Flamingo said. “Then he cracked his signature grin, and I knew everything would be alright.”
“It was pretty nostalgic for me,” she continued. “The last time I heard that joke was a week ago, in the exact same context. That was back when we were still in lockdown.”
George said the class could have a little extra fun that day because “we all need some good news right now.” He went on to say, “Aaaah! Aah! Where did my body go?” A massive, pulsating vein appeared on his forehead as he tried to sell the bit.
“Initially I was like, well, this isn’t good news at all!” Flamingo said. “First the lockdown, now my professor is a disembodied head. But then he smiled really big and said, just kidding! Then he kept us 5 minutes after class ended to make up the time he spent on the joke.”
It was the little spark of joy that all the students needed, Flamingo said. “I’ve never had a professor at Duke who works so hard to maintain their students’ mental health.”
Flamingo says that timeless jokes like this one serve to show how much things have changed.
“I remember the first day of class, when he did the joke for the first time, someone typed ‘looooll’ in the chat,” she said. “A few people even had their cameras on. We were such kids back then.”
But all these months later, the students’ lives have gotten more serious, and there just isn’t time for these antics anymore.
“Now, half the class joins from the car or the shower, and we all have an unspoken agreement to stonewall professor George with complete silence whenever he asks a question,” Flamingo said. “In a way, it kind of makes me sad to remember what we used to have. But as hard as it is to grow up and move on, it’s something we all need to learn.”
The only person who hasn’t moved on is Prof. George himself. The unmarried, tenured professor has had all the time in the world to expand his repertoire this year. But, thankfully, it seems that “Aaaah! Aah! Where did my body go?” isn’t going anywhere.