She

In Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man," Jacques mocks the sap who pens an ode to his mistress's eyebrow. He didn't say one goddamned thing about waxing eloquent on her mind, however. So here goes.

When I first stood in front of a classroom, over forty years ago now as a grad assistant, a definite thrill ran through my body. Not fear or anxiety or even a touch of delicate nerves. No, it was the tingle of getting paid for talking about something I loved and would expound upon for free in any event to all who would listen.

Moreover, in those days, there was the additional treat of having a large majority of students taking me seriously and reading their books at night, solving problems and asking questions in class. Engaged they were then.

But think of all the cash they had tied up in learning College Algebra or Trigonometry; back then classes at Potato State commanded a whopping $6.50 per credit hour! Twenty-five smackers to hear me yammer about the beauty of mathematics for nine weeks. (We were on the quarter system then. Which brings up an interesting point. In that era, we covered far more material in a quarter than when I was pimped to a squalid junior college running on the semester basis).

Okay, I can just visualize you yawning and reaching for your LP of Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica to play "Old Fart at Play." No, I'm not ruing the demise of how things were when I grew up and I don't intend to vote for Donald Trump to make America great again. Just where on earth did he get that adverb "again" from? Is he pining for the good old days of:
  • jingoism
  • racism
  • sexism
  • ageism
  • consumerism
  • despotism
  • isolationism
  • nationalism
  • totalitarianism
Well, Donald, the only -ism worth a damn, jism, is missing from your list. I'd be glad to come in the name of equality and liberty for all!

Sorry for the diatribe there. I just wanted to say that though I might be considered by many to be an old fogey, I'm still young enough to revel in the most amazing experience of my life. 

It would be almost a decade ago now that I labored under the double yoke of pretense. Both academia and passion had withered on the vine which once sprung so sprightly in my youth. I was now living a falsehood.

First day of class in these latter days was always a crap-shoot. You kept your fingers crossed and hoped like the dickens that the chairs in the back two rows of the room hadn't been reserved for rigor mortis to set in. I really did pray to the almighty Gauss each time I kicked off a new term that this one might not be as dismal as the last.

So anyway, here I am skipping down the hallway to the first night of a new term (it was a night class, meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays), hoping for the best. Black slacks, a neatly tucked in and pressed short-sleeved shirt, to the podium with books and notes in tow, my eyes finally look up, smiling, hoping that there was a bit of respiration to be detected among the two dozen participants sitting in the cheap seats. Always give 'em a show, Bobby the Brain Heenan said, no matter what they paid. I really should have been a professional wrestler. A heel, of course.

As I say, my head rotated some 150 degrees, left then right then left again, trying to take in the demeanor of the crowd, trying to estimate if this was the month I would finally slash my wrists as a propitiating sacrifice to Plato's Academy. I mean, I had no lover waiting for me at home, full of passion, to help me forget a potentially miserable night, to help me forget what I had become. My only inamorata these years had been mathematics and she rarely spread for the likes of me now, given how lucre had won me over. I wasn't sure she'd even speak to me again after leaving our passionate kisses of forty years ago in the dust.

Front row: a couple goody-good girls, going through the motions only. Sisters of Judy Hensler from Leave It to Beaver. Playing the part of wanting to learn. Neither of whom would have considered a naked Pythagoras sexy.

Next row: two guys and two gals, all very friendly amongst each other; if this was a residential college, I'd chalk them up as a double-date from a fraternity-sorority Rush Week bash. I'm pretty sure one of the guys was Otter and one of the girls Marlene, who no doubt had major league yabbos and moaned like a banshee. The two lads made it as far as mid-term week before bailing out. I'll alway remember the blond pretty-boy giving an excuse for why he had missed an exam: he had an important volley-ball tournament to attend instead. Lavoisier had his head chopped off during the Revolution for thinking original thoughts and this turdblossom expected sympathy for our class conflicting with intramural sports! 

It seems fitting that one semester later, Admin chose this paragon of scholarship to adorn the front cover of the college catalog. One thing's for sure; no one can fault the school for deceptive advertising.

Third row: totally forgettable. Students, keep this in mind! The third row is the black hole of all class rooms. You will vanish right through final exam week, and no one, not even the paramedics vainly searching for the source of the foetid stench left in the empty seats, will ever know you existed.

Back row: now this is always a mixed bag, in general. My eyes scanned from right to left to see if I'd be earning my bread this semester. Far right, one, two, three, all entirely forgettable. Maybe capable of learning some Elementary Statistics, then again, maybe being the next to perpetrate armed robbery at the Seven-Eleven store not far away. Wearing ski masks, I'd recognize them all. Number four, an Asian chap whom I had pegged as an arrogant asshole from the get-go; I was right as it turns out. But was able to flush him by mid-term, too.

Then...

Yes, then... In the next seat, second from the door in the back row, was a sign of life. And more.

Remember, I hoped for little at the start of each term, just the chance to pretend I was honoring my calling (mathematics) and just a little, my source of income (teaching). Unlike my colleagues in that den of cowards, though Admin had "shown me the instruments," I still had the courage to pretend I might make a difference. And that someone might make a difference to me.

Yes, then...

As I looked up from the podium, waiting for the hour to strike, indicating the start of a new sixteen weeks of commitment and expecting no commitment in return, my eyes fell again upon that back row, second seat...

A brief digression. I once had a wonderful girlfriend whom I deeply loved, and she confessed to me that as a teenage lass, viewing Steve Reeves in Hercules Unchained in the theater on the big screen made her moist. I can well appreciate that. That's what we're here for.

But on my end while I'm pretty sure there was some uncontrolled arousal at the College Girls house (see Tiny), over the years the lingam had been far too straitened by society. Pity.

Back to the class room. 

Yes then, I saw such a vision in the back row, second seat, that there really was a movement in my trousers. Truly. Just a twitch, but clearly more than one brain was guiding my carcass that night. Always the sensualist, it gave me confidence that a couple decades of indolence hadn't killed off my finer side just yet.

Now before someone yells obscene gestures at me for being such a sensualist or worse a chauvinist, let me hasten to add, what caused the rustling was gazing at a face so full of comprehension, green eyes alert and smiling more than lips, subtle. The missing link, finally. Moreover, this was no playing out Lolita in case you're wondering; we two were closer in age than farther.

As I dared to take repeated peeks, it really was clear that here was an incredibly special person. And it was difficult to maintain the balance of professionalism in the class room versus just wanting to undress that mind and see what soft curves lay beneath the camisole of that nous.

I had never been sexually aroused by a girl's mind before, you see.

A curious girl, she. Smart as a whip, unafraid of hard work, willing to practice, practice, practice until the subject at hand made sense, diligent about homework, always awake and alert. And so easy on the eyes--black hair! She literally mesmerized me from the outset, and my mind fantasized no end of excesses in her company.

One night I was collecting homework papers, one by one, threading my way through crowd. Knowing that the two party boys always skipped out at the midpoint break, I waited until the end of the evening to have the students turn in their assignments. Dumb bunnies! Apparently they failed to place stock in induction, for I did that several times throughout the term, managing to lower their point total splendidly. This was my version of the Aristotelian attention-getter. (It's reported that Aristotle would smite a student in the face when driving home a particularly important point).

The papers I collected were fat in general, perhaps ten stapled sheets each. Until I got to my favorite girl. I couldn't help but note just how meager her offering was, a piffling two or three pages. Grading the homework later that week I found the reason. She had only worked half of the problems, failing to note that the assignment spread over two pages, Xeroxed back-to-back.

When I returned the results, I couldn't resist making some sort of wry comment. She was quite red-faced at the gaffe, perhaps thinking my estimation of her had just fallen a bit. However, if truth be told, I wasn't in the least concerned; it was eminently clear to me that she was readily mastering the material, botched assignment or not. In fact, I knew what her grade was going to be from the outset. That's the sort of claim every courageous teacher (uncorrupted by syphilitic college courses from a so-called education department) knows, but which horrifies riff-raff instructors and administrators who care more about the bottle than the beer

Real teaching is not for cowards.

At the next meeting, she presented me with the missing problems, commenting that she understood it wasn't possible to earn points at this late date. She simply wanted me to know she had done the work anyway, just to learn. I told her that in lieu of the missing points, I would think highly of her. Still do, by the way.

So the end of the term loomed, and my twice-weekly chance to dream came to a close. After turning in her final exam, we bumped into each other one last time in the hallway. There's always something so eerie about proclaiming the end of sixteen weeks of study. Most of the class rooms were dark now, the halls silent, with the only movement coming from the night-call janitors lugubriously mopping the faded linoleum. An empty school building is truly one of the saddest places on earth.

Anyway, we met one last time, and exchanged some gay repartee. Lots of laughs, lots of smiles, but it was now all behind us. Or was it?

I couldn't help but note how she kept moving closer and closer to me each time we joked about something or other. For the life of me, her actions seemed almost coquettish, brilliant smiles, flashing eyes, sharp intellect on display, almost willing me to cast all sense of professionalism out the window and confess one of us was getting a woody, and I don't mean the janitor not fifty feet away.

It was an exotic and provocative way to conclude the semester.  

Onanism would never be the same.

The title of this piece? Why, it's from Mars Bonfire, of course.
She loves leather, silk and motorcycles, ESP, long rainy nights...
Stay tuned. We met again in academic surroundings.

Next installment: Epsilon Closer

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