I sort of steel myself for it every semester, as new faces fill the seats and a fresh batch of students are initiated into English 100.
Every fall and spring, they suffer through my corny jokes and big smiles and we write and revise and write and revise and revise and revise again -- and usually, they hate the process but seem to be okay with me...and that's how we learn to be writers, these amazing freshmen and I.
I am fully myself with them because I want them to be fully themselves with me.
So, it comes up. The question came this semester during the fifth week. I mentioned something funny that happened to me on a first date, and one of my student athletes stopped chewing her gum and called out "you're not married?" in an incredulous tone which made me love her.
"Nope," I said, wiggling my ring finger at the class. "See? No ring."
They looked at me, and a few raised their hands to ask more questions, but I blushed and chickened out and distracted them with a corny joke while pretending not to see the hands.
I wish I had been more honest in my response. I wish I had said, to these fresh-on-the-cusp-of-life freshmen who are so good to me: