I couldn't think of anything to write about, today, so I did a search for writing prompts and came across this page. #12 is "Write about a brief but scary encounter with one of your old professors," and I realized when I read that, that I have never told you, teeming dozens, the story of Endangered Languages.
When I was a freshman at IU, I took a College of Arts and Sciences class called Endangered Languages. It fulfilled some requirement that all of my other classes (like yoga and beginning guitar) could not.
There was a really cute boy, who had kind of a studiously handsome thing going on, in my class. I actually followed him home one day, and lo and behold - he lived in my dorm! Fate!! I lived in Willkie - the girls lived in the north tower and the boys lived in the south tower. I had to go to the boys' tower to get my mail.
I spent a lot of time getting my mail and hanging out in the dining hall for the next week, hoping to run into him. FINALLY I did.
"Hey, aren't you in my Endangered Languages class?" I said smoothly.
"Yeah, hi, I'm Bryan," he said, I swooned.
"I'm Amy. Nice to meet you. Do you have a copy of the paper assignment? I can't find mine..." complete bull. It was in my backpack.
"Sure, come to my room, it's right over here, and I'll get it. You can make a copy." I was dying. This was going far better than I'd hoped. Maybe he'd noticed me too! Maybe he liked that witty but intelligent remark I'd made during our last class. Maybe we'd get married and have a half a dozen studiously attractive children!!!
"Ok!" I walked to his room with him. He opened the door and there was a girl, a really pretty girl, sitting on his floor.
"Oh. That's the girlfriend," I thought. "Bitch."
Turns out that she was looking at me, thinking, "Oh, that's the girlfriend. Bitch." But I didn't know that until much later.
Anyway, back to the class. It was really intereting... for the first two weeks. Then it got totally repetitive and lame. Bryan, who I was sitting next to, now, was still not in love with me. He and I would write notes back and forth to each other - including dirty limericks about the subject matter. "There once was an Injun named Ishi..." went one. The rest is unprintable.
It was one of those classes where they assign 6 papers, but only average your five highest grades into your final grade. I had As on all the papers, but if you skipped one it counted as a zero, even if you'd aced all the others. I had to turn in something order to get the A I had already earned.
Being the smart-alecked 18 year old that I was, I chose to write, "Why I Didn't Like This Class," as my final paper. I explained that the subject was really interesting at first, but it seemed like they had run out of material really early on, and the rest of the class had been really boring. I suggested that they either make it a half-semester course or make it part of a larger class, maybe on endangered cultures. I thought they could add a bunch in about the other aspects of humanity that were being lost along with these dying languages... I was as respectful as possible, while telling the professor that his class sucked.
I went on for five pages.
I honestly didn't think that the professor would ever see it. The TA, who was a tool, had graded all of our papers up to that point. If the prof did see it, it wouldn't be until the class had ended, and I wouldn't have to look him in the eye. Of course, Bryan read it and loved it, and egged me on to turn it in. Wanting to impress him, I did.
We turned our papers in the Wednesday before the last Friday of class. On Friday we had presentations to give. My group had been scheduled for that day. Immediately before class, the professor (the one who had stopped class a few weeks before to ask Bryan and I what was so funny, when we wrote the dirty limerick) came to me and said, "Are you Amy?"
"Yes?" I said. Bryan was riveted. I could see him out of the corner of my eye, hanging on every word.
"I need to speak to you about your paper after class."
Bryan's jaw hit the desk. My palms were sweaty and my heart raced. I was a wreck for our whole presentation (it was a group thing - I hate group projects). 50 minutes ticked by like I was waiting for an execution.
Finally, class ended for the day and the semester - all I had to do was get through this conversation and I'd never have to see this prof, or Endangered Languages again.
Bryan dawdled getting his things together so he could eavesdrop. My face was crimson.
"Amy, I want you to know," said the professor without a hint of sarcasm, "that I really appreciate your paper."
"Excuse me?" I said. Bryan had given up all pretense of not listening, now, and was obviously hanging on the professor's every word.
"I mean it. This class was originally supposed to be about endangered cultures, just as you said. We were only going to spend about two weeks on languages. But the anthropology department said they had a class that was too similar, so at the last minute we had to cut out all the culture stuff and fill a whole semester with languages. You're 100% right. There wasn't enough material for a whole class."
"You've got to be kidding me," Bryan muttered.
"I am going to take your paper to my department head, and show him that a student cared enough to write her final paper on how to improve this class. I hope that I can make a lot of changes next semester, thanks to you. Of course, I can't give you a letter grade on it, but I checked and you already have an A in the class."
I was stunned into absolute silence. Those who know me know that is something that never happens to me.
"Thank you," the professor said, "It's been a pleasure having you in class."
"Ok," I said. I was so shocked, my neurons weren't even firing.
"Good luck with next semester. Enjoy your holidays!" he said.
"Ok," I said.
Bryan and I walked out together. We almost made it to the hall before we started cracking up.
The rest of the story:
I haven't seen Bryan since 1996. If you're Bryan E. Moore and you know this story, e-mail me, for crying out loud.
The bitch on the floor in his dorm room and I went on to become best friends - she was my maid of honor, and I was hers. She's in Louisiana, now, finishing her Ph.D. in anthropology.
The only time I've used anything I learned in that class was to write this post.