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OCTOBER 23-29, 2008

Professors’ wives may be the only segment of American society left untapped for the bright(ish) lights of reality-show infamy, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthy. Joanne Rendell’s new novel, The Professors’ Wives’ Club, proves that the students aren’t the only ones steaming things up. Although a work of fiction, the book has been well researched: Rendell, 34, lives in a real NYU dorm and is herself a professor’s wife—her husband is a member of the faculty at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Professors’ wives are in a unique position, claims Rendell. “They are often deeply connected to the university world. They live in faculty housing, take their kids to university child care and work out at the university gym. However, when it comes to university decisions, they have little power.” Still, Rendell has found herself in many, um, positions: “[I’ve] had sex in a library, on a pile of books and at an academic conference! How many other wives have had such opportunities?”

Good point. I need to get me a professor.

But Rendell is quick to warn me: “Women who marry professors are not the kind of women who’d ever have been interested in the quarterback in high school! They prefer a gentler, more nerdy kind of guy. They like a man who’ll talk to them, listen to them, do the dishes and watch the kids. Professor men are the kind of men who’ll do these things.”

Let me reiterate: I need to get me a professor!

Of course, there must be some downsides to marrying a guy who spends his days surrounded by binge-drinking Barely Legal wanna-bes. Does the life of a professor’s wife come with a constant fear thatoffice hours is a euphemism for underage T&A? Did a professor first concoct the naughty-schoolgirl outfit? How could you not be worried—or at least a little jealous?

“If you feel strong and secure in your relationship, like I do,” says Rendell, “you’re not going to worry about such a thing. However, these relationships do happen—you hear them whispered about. Although there are university rules these days regarding professor-student relationships, it would probably be impossible to wipe out sexual tensions in the classroom altogether. There are always going to be students who find their professors smart and sexy; and there will always be professors who like the adoration of their young, good-looking, students.”So I suppose professor-student role-playing in the bedroom is a little too realistic?

“Urck!” Rendell winces. “I can’t imagine anyone I know getting up to such antics! In such a scenario, would the wife have to complain about her grades and continually check her cell phone while the professor is performing? And would the husband have to moan about committee meetings and the pile of assignments to grade while the student is doing the do? I think academic couples know the sad and boring realities of university life too well to make such a sex game any fun!”

Well, that doesn’t sound too hot. But there’s always sexy librarian/nerdy bookworm. The stacks of Columbia, here I come!

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