February 5, 2012

Gods, Generals and Physicists

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The conquests of the ancient world have been rather on my mind lately. And if I were to choose my favorite conqueror, it would have to be Cleopatra.

According to legend, Queen Cleopatra was one badass bitch. In 48 B.C., Julius Caesar rolled into Egypt like a boss, with plans to annex the empire for himself. That plan didn’t exactly sit well with Cleopatra, so she did what any respectable regent would do: She decided to smuggle herself into the palace where Caesar was staying and gently convince him otherwise. To sneak past Ptolemy’s guards, Cleopatra had herself rolled up in a carpet and carried into the palace by her very burly advisor, Apollodorus the Sicilian. To make a long story short, baby Caesar was born nine months later.

I’m not a historian of the ancient world, but I can spot a skank when I see one, and this Cleopatra chick definitely fits the bill. But there is something to be said for a woman who effectively conquered Rome by the ancient equivalent of popping out of a giant cake. You see, if the whole thing were up to me, I’d go about it without all the parlor tricks. And as luck would have it, this semester is looking pretty good for conquering.

I’ve found that the best place to look for conquests is none other than the denizens of Cornell’s science departments. They’re smart, they’re sexually deprived and they will be rolling in the dough when they graduate. And besides, the science classes I’ve taken at Cornell have been some of the most interesting courses of my college career. This is in part because I have been blessed with some of the graduate school’s finest T.A.s.

My interest in the ancient world began my freshman year. I remember awkwardly shuffling in my seat, dreading the moment that my very first science course of my college career would begin. But just as my nerves were starting to get the best of me, in walked a creature I could only describe to you as the reincarnation of Adonis. My friends, enter the Greek God. He was more or less the perfect tall, dark and handsome man. His brown eyes pierced my soul in a way that screamed, “I am a descendant of Alexander the Great.” And his facial scruff was so luscious that I swear I could detect it growing with each minute that passed.

Needless to say, I was smitten. I decided to place myself in his section, no matter the cost. But being the mere freshman that I was, I had very little knowledge of the art of conquering. He switched sections with another T.A. who I rather fondly refer to as Helga the Beast.

Fast forward to spring semester, my senior year. I had all but forgotten about my brief, if passionate, love affair with the Grecian of my dreams. I’m sitting in my physics section, quite honestly dreading the prospect of another science class. And then it happened: Enter the Roman. Walking in with what could only be described as some veritable Italian swagger, my T.A. threw his books down, swept up a piece of chalk and scribbled his name in a fashion that screamed, “Screw Alexander the Great, ladies, Caesar has arrived! Now look at my chest hair.”

I damn nearly fell out of my chair. The man had the tightest jeans I had ever seen, which were not unwelcome given that his butt was pretty much statue-perfect. And while he didn’t have the tall, dark and handsome thing going on, he definitely had some scruff working in his favor. Struggling to keep my face in check and not drool all over myself, I listened to this Roman prince go on about ancient philosophers in his delightfully thick accent peppered with English curse words. Dear God, he was too good to be true.

As I left the class, I was hyper-aware of how my butt looked as I walked out the door. But maybe too aware, because as I turned the corner I crashed into a pile of man abs and dropped my books. I looked up to excuse myself and immediately locked eyes with none other than my Greek God, back from a semester abroad in his mother country. I damn near peed my pants. This could not be happening. I finally muttered something that closely resembled, “I’m so sorry,” but probably could be more accurately described as, “Ugghh ahhh unngh,” and bolted. When I finally stopped hyperventilating, I couldn’t help but look up and think, “Is this my second chance at conquering the ancient world?”

Cristina Stiller is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at cstiller@cornellsun.com. Believe You Me appears alternate Mondays this semester.

Original Author: Cristina Stiller

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