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Common, Ordinary, Everyday

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There was this guy in my Milton class who was never there. I was busting my ass to read Areopagitica and make sense of Paradise Lost without going insane, so I'd sit up in the front row and take notes, listen hard, ask questions, you know, do the student thing.

Well, this nineteen year old in Gap clothes and a 90210 haircut decides to come to class, butit's only on the days of the exams. And I'm thinking, "he's gonna flunk. Serves him right, the loser never shows up."

Now, my professor is a real hardball. She says, "Most of you are failing. There is only one A out of all of you, and three Bs. The rest of you have Ds and Fs and should take a basic English composition course to learn how to write."

My ego is telling me, "I got the A, I got the A" but when I get my paper back, it's a lousy B and I'm real disappointed because I was up all hours for two weeks crafting my paper topic.

Later that day I have an exam in another class. The Gap guy shows up for this exam and takes me aside to ask how everyone did on the paper. He says, "I had to miss Milton. I haven't been feeling well." So I say to him, "Dude, then this news will make you real sick: The professor says most of the papers are Ds and Fs, only 3 Bs were given and just 1 A, and I think it's even an A minus at that." The guy starts to cry and talk about ending his life.

Taking pity on the loser student, I walk him home just to talk him out of hanging himself. I tell him, "You really have to start showing up for class." But even with that pep talk, he blows class off.

A couple of weeks later, the Gap guy says, "Could you save me the paper topic? I have to miss class. Maybe you can email it to me? I will be in New York."

So I think, "Damn, this guy is really gonna fail." And say, "Sure, okay. I know what it's like to be afraid of not graduating. God knows I've been here long enough." So he says, "Oh really? When did you start school." I reply, "At a junior college in 1989."

"How old are you?" he says.


"That's old. Don't you feel embarassed to be in school at your age?"

Next I'm thinking of places to punch him in the stomach. wHAT A FUCKING jerk loser. But instead I say, "Life got in the way."

"That's some excuse."

Now I'm real riviting, so I lay it into him, "Look buddy, not everybody has a mommy and a daddy who buy them fancy cars and fancy tuition and fancy pants. I've had to work my ass off for tuition and had to survive a riot, an earthquake, a fire, a divorce, and being female on top of that with sleezy professors who wanna fuck you for your grade. You don't have to worry about that now, do you?"

"Uh, no. Guess not. I'll be in New York. So could you save me the paper topic?"

Wimpishly I say, "yeah" and walk away confused. A few hours later I'm in my Milton class. The professor calls out the Gap guy's name and says, "You really should collect your paper. It's the only A in the class." And I'm going, "whoa" in my head. How can this guy who's never present get an A?

A week later I run into him before class to tell him he got the A. He says, "man you really had me scared. I was about ready to drop the class." I ask him, "So how did you do it? How can you write a paper for a topic you never saw or sat in class to learn about?" he wrinkles up his face and says, "I went to the library and read some of her essays, tinkered around with her idea about Comus' glutionous heat rape theory and came up with a supporting argument."

"So you flattered her with her own ideas."

"Works like a charm. Oh, and by the way, could you please tell the other professor that I have been called away to new York for the next week and will be late with my paper."

I nodded my head and went to class, telling the professor his story. The next day I am walking around campus and see the guy sitting under a tree drinking a soda and reading a sports magazine.

He got me to lie for him.

And he got an A for that class, too.


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