Here’s Jude and some of the modern Angel crew, doing something that’s only relatable if you’re me.
Of all the parts of his job that Jude didn’t like, having to go to conferences was easily…
Well, it was on the list, anyway. It was nowhere near as high as grading, office hours, faculty meetings, grading, grant applications, and grading, but it was on the list. It was just so tedious, and they lasted several days, and he’d really much rather just read the papers afterwards.
But networking and kairotic space and the free flow of ideas and also sometimes an open bar, so Jude went to conferences. And he saw all the same people he always saw, talking about the same stuff they always talked about. The ones he was friends with he could see without the façade of a conference, and the ones he wasn’t he’d really rather not see.
If Jude had to put up with Roland coming to one more of his papers and asking him questions about the Eucharist, he was going shove a monstrance up his ass. Jude was not interested in the Eucharist and he wasn’t interested in Roland. Anymore.
This particular conference was a bit different, though. They must have been running out of cash or something, because they’d hooked up with a philosophy conference to make one big stupid conference out of people who didn’t like each other and Jude just wanted to know why.
“This is going to be such a nightmare,” Jude said to Rebecca as they sat down in the main conference hall of the big fancy building for the conference’s opening remarks.
Rebecca sighed, poking Jude a little hard with her pen. “So I guess I don’t need to ask if you’ve finished writing your paper yet.”
“Of course I haven’t, I’m giving it tomorrow,” Jude growled. “I’ll write it tonight.”
“When? You’re going to be drunk and naked in someone’s bed.”
“You make me sound like a skank,” Jude protested, blushing. Hooking up with people was the only way to make conferences bearable. They were all adults.
“You are a skank,” Rebecca said. “Plus there are a few hundred people here you haven’t had the chance to bang since grad school.”
“Yeah, but, philosophers,” Jude complained.
“Yeah, we’re the worst, aren’t we?” a philosopher asked, sitting down next to Jude. The room wasn’t full enough for him to sit right next to Jude. Jude glared at him for a second, before realizing it was Tam Matthews.
“You pretty much are,” he said, looking away. Tam had gotten hot since they’d gone to school together. “Don’t know who invited all of you.”
“Me either. Can’t believe you’re already in a bad mood and the conference hasn’t started yet. Not that I blame you, there were no vegan pastries at breakfast even though I specifically told them I had a dietary restriction.”
“Assholes,” Jude said. Raphael McMaster was the main conference organizer. It was the sort of thing he’d overlook.
“Tell me about it. Hey, I read your book.”
Jude blinked. What the fuck kind of thing was that to say? “Why?” Nobody read his books. That was why he wrote them.
“Because my geography lab partner from first year undergrad wrote it?” Tam asked.
“That’s not a good enough reason!” Jude was blushing now, embarrassed. His last book hadn’t even been that good.
“I liked it, for what it was worth,” Tam offered.
Rebecca laughed. “I don’t think Jude wrote it to be liked.”
“Of course I didn’t. I wrote it so everyone in this room would know I thought they were stupid,” Jude explained. “That’s also what my paper is about tomorrow. Also I read your book too.”
“Really?” Tam smiled, leaning in a little.
“Yeah. I wanted to learn something about moral philosophy. I got roped into teaching a class next year that has some philosophical stuff in it and at least you write accessibly.” Jude wasn’t looking at Tam as he talked.
“I try. So…did you like it?”
“What, the book? No. You’re wrong about everything.”
Tam laughed, patting Jude’s shoulder. “I remember you being a lot more agreeable in introduction to philosophy back in the day.”
Jude shrugged. “I thought it was stupid then too. I just wanted to fuck the TA.”
Tam snickered. So did Rebecca. “Did you?” he asked.
“No, he laughed at me when I tried.” And then Jude had only gotten a B+ in that class, so he’d never taken philosophy again. It was a stupid discipline anyway. Outdated, stuck in its own navel.
“Too bad for him,” Tam said. “Hey, you know what we should do?”
“No.” It was both an answer to the question and to whatever Tam was going to propose.
“We should write a book together.”
“Come on, we’ll piss everyone off at once, it’ll be great.”
Jude looked at him, was suddenly struck again by the fact that he’d gotten hot, and looked away. “What would we even write a book about?”
“Who knows? We should have drinks after this and decide.”
“We can’t have drinks after the opening remarks. It’s eight-thirty in the morning.”
“Oh yeah,” Tam said, looking up at the podiums, where Raphael and Cameron Abattoir were getting ready to give their remarks. “Well, we could have breakfast. I hear there’s a good place near here that does vegan pancakes. Miss the first two panels, come back for lunch, then go for drinks after that.”
Jude rolled his eyes, though he was smiling now. “Some of us are here to see the conference, Tam.”
“He’s got you there,” Rebecca told him.
“Someone has to.”
Jude sighed. He was surrounded by traitors and crazy people. But then, it was an academic conference, so that was to be expected. “We’ll go for drinks halfway through the last panel,” he told Tam.
“Why halfway through the last panel?”
“Because Roland’s paper is in the last panel and I want to get up and leave while he’s giving it.” Not that Jude was petty or anything.
“So he’s still not over the bread thing?” Tam asked Rebecca.
“He’s never going to be over the bread thing.”
“I’m writing a book about the bread thing and why it’s stupid. Now shut up, Cameron’s about to start talking and I’m afraid of her so I don’t want her to have a reason to look at us.”
“Same,” Tam sighed, settling in his chair and taking out a notebook.
Maybe the conference wasn’t going to be quite so bad after all.