The Story of Dr. Thom

(* Important disclaimer: All events described in The Story of Dr. Thom, even the real ones, are totally fictitious. Any similarity to actual events is accidental, and any relevance to anything at all is just plain silly. In short, read at your own risk.)


Thom and his sister Leah enjoy summer in South Dakota.

Despite the widely held belief that Dr. Thom was conceived at the Woodstock Musical Festival, he actually breathed his first just before the Summer of Love in the small town of Vermillion, South Dakota. (He is one of two living people known to have been born there.) As the youngest son of two self-styled nomadic microbiologists, the young Thom Adams also lived in Mexico City, Columbia, SC, Beaufort, SC, New Delhi, and Savannah, GA. It was Savannah where Thom finished his secondary education, graduating second in his class (of two) from Beach High school. It was also Savannah where Thom would meet his future bride, the former Diedre Shook, at a meeting of local geniuses.


Thom's wife Dee does her most requested trick, The Incredible Floating Head.

In early adolescence Thom developed a strong phobia of barber shears, a fear that plagued him for over thirty years. (On December 20, 2013, a day that has become known as The Reckoning, Thom finally gave in to the inexorable yoke of genetics.) Despite this fear, Thom enjoyed a wide array of activities, including playing violin, swimming, creating magic props out of bird seed boxes, and smoking cheap cigars. It was no surprise, then, that Thom was rendered helpless when he received the Tinker Toy admissions literature from a small engineering school located in the Midwest - one that offered a personalized education and the chance to live in a small town with an eclectic [sic.] nightlife. That school was Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Thom entered as a freshman Mechanical Engineering major in the fall of 1986.


The band Blyss made just enough money to keep its members furnished with hair mousse.

Early on during his Rose years, Thom associated himself with the wrong crowd, joining a club of young men who were known by the name The Taxi. As a sophomore, Thom and another Taxi member formed a heavy metal band called Blyss, whose lead singer was an obnoxious, corpulent young lady from Detroit. Despite this crowd of questionable characters and the vast amount of time Thom spent wailing on his guitar (and teasing his hair), Thom managed to graduate with honors in May of 1990. Earlier that year, Thom made good on a promise he made to his high school sweetheart and married her. (The promise was "It would be a cold day in H___ when we get married." It was -23°F in Terre Haute on the day Thom and Dee wed.)


Dr. Thom at the height of his identity crisis

After Thom received his degree, the newlywed couple wandered the country aimlessly for some time before settling down in Atlanta. Fearing the real world, Thom returned to school as a graduate student at Georgia Tech. He received his masters degree the following year.


Thom graces the cover of Lusty Wind in Georgia.

The next couple of years found Thom in the midst of a major identity crisis. He worked as a pizza delivery boy, an environmental activist, and a romance novel cover model, yet none of these activities filled the existential void within his psyche. Then one day as he sat contemplatively in the lotus position, an epiphany of unparalleled proportions came over Thom. He saw his kismet with turbid clarity: He would return to Georgia Tech to receive his PhD. He was to become "Dr. Thom." That was his calling.


Thom Adams receives enlightenment: He is to become Dr. Thom

As a Ph.D. student, Thom worked carefully to balance his class work, research, teaching responsibilities and home life. The home life was particularly challenging, as Dee's two children were now teenagers and enjoyed eating large quantities of food, spending large quantities of money, and driving (and crashing) large quantities of cars. In fact, in a short few year period, the family garage housed a Chevy Celebrity, two Hyundais, two Nissan Sentras, a Honda Civic, a VW Beetle, a Jeep Cherokee, a Nissan 240SX, a Nissan Altima, a Saturn SL1, and a low rider pickup truck. Some of the cars were lost in accidents, some died of old age, one was stolen at gunpoint, one committed suicide. Nonetheless, Thom endured, and in a cool autumn day in 1998 he was awarded his Ph.D. and officially became Dr. Thom. Someone ran into his parked car during the ceremony.

kyle.jpg Shannon

Dee's children, Kyle and Shannon, got their good looks from their mother, and their driver's licenses from Sears.

After receiving his PhD, the new Dr. Thom was one of the first participants in a controversial work-release program whereby troubled young men work part time as adjunct professors. The program's originator, a courageous Associate Dean at Georgia Tech, landed Dr. Thom a position in the Engineering Science and Mechanics department at that school. For the next year, Dr. Thom honed his pedagogical abilities, enabling him to accept a position as Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at his beloved alma mater in August of 1999. He's been teaching at Rose-Hulman ever since.

The late Darrell Gibson having a remarkablly prescient thought.