Over the next few days, Kyle and I ran into each other several times, each time exchanging a greeting and usually a little small talk. Given his official role within the organization hosting the conference, he was a great resource for where I could find things, how I could gain access to everything I wanted, and where the officially unofficial off-site shindigs were happening. Fast forward to my last evening at the conference, and I finally got a chance to catch up with Kyle while he had a moment to sit still at one of those off-site shindigs. We chatted, flirted, exchanged contact information, and agreed that we would hear from each other when we returned to our respective lives.
During our conversation, Kyle wanted to know if he could expect me at next year’s conference. I told him that my conference attendance is always based on whether or not my proposals get accepted. This is where things got questionable for me. Kyle offered to ensure that I’m on the conference program. He’s not responsible for program review, but because he works for the association, he has access to and influence with the people who make those decisions. Now, let’s be clear: I love a hook-up. However, when it comes to the realm of academic and professional advancement, the question of ethics that is raised by accepting a hook-up is much bigger for me than it is in more social settings. Thoughts of professional hook-ups and whether more established people in academia operate this way consumed my thoughts and made me pretty distant for the rest of my conversation with Kyle. So much so, that I really can’t remember anything else we talked about that evening.
Well, I’m back home and Kyle is back home. There have been a few text messages and emails exchanged, but I feel like I’m really not that interested in him. So disinterested, in fact, that I don’t even have a desire to go through all of the questions and figure out his true eligibility status. I think that he is a single-ish black man who travels around the country from meeting to meeting (a benefit of his job), spends his free time connecting with women (like yours truly) who attend these meetings, and uses those connections to maintain his livelihood. While I understand where I fit into this picture I’ve dreamt up, I don’t understand where I fit within Kyle’s true picture. When we were last in person, he made a comment that he and I had established a better connection than we did last year (that’s a no-brainer…I remember his name this year). Away from the hustle and bustle of the conference, though, I can’t tell. And unfortunately for any hope of this moving past a randon text here or there, I’m not one to put in effort where I either haven’t been intrigued or that effort is not likely to be reciprocated. So, I guess another one bites the dust…at least temporarily.
This concludes this series of Conference Season Chronicle installments.