By ice rivers
- 606 reads
Even though I think I'm a smart ass, I'm not as smart as I think I am.
My name is Ovid Warren Peets.
I'm here to tell you a story about a guy who was proud of his ignorance and worried that he wasn’t as dumb as he thought he was . Over the course of our acquaintance this man gratified himself by proving conclusively that he was even dumber than he had hoped.
His name was Thornton Krell. He was my professor. I was taking a class called Metaphysiction at a place called Montgomery Community College. I didn't know what the hell Metaphysiction was and neither did my advisor, Ward Stokes. As soon as I found out that Stokes was vague on the course, I decided to throw it into my schedule. I figured I could drop the course later and blame the drop on Stokes who would have to admit that he didn't know what the hell he was talking about when we first discussed the course.
Everyone knows that in a fire, the survival strategy is to drop and roll. Only MCC students know that academic survival strategy is to enroll and then drop.
They must have been drawing pictures too or writing those little love letters that begin “I‘m sitting in class bored out of mind and thinking about what we did last night…...
For some reason I used to draw a hockey rink as seen from a nosebleed seat. After I drew the rink in great detail, including stick figure crowds, I would rest the point of the pen somewhere on the “Ice” and wrist flick the point towards the “Goal” which resembled a large E turned sideways without the middle perpendicular. If I managed to stop the point within the E, the stroke counted as a goal. I would disallow goals in which the stroke was slowed down enough to mimic conscious purpose. Only subconscious strokes counted. Sometimes the pencil and the “ref” would get in long arguments about whether or not a goal should count or not. In this way, with an occasional fake “I’m listening and I’m interested” glance at the teacher, class time passed.
When I wasn't drawing hockey rinks, I was drawing drum sets. This habit was about to change within the first ten minutes of encountering Krell.
They say that a student pretty much makes up his mind how he will get along with a teacher within the first five minutes that the teacher is in front of the class. Even while Krell was taking attendance and reviewing the institute rules, which everyone had heard at the beginning of every class at MCC (and still disobeyed) I was forming my impression of Krell. I kept hearing the song 96 Tears playing in my brain. Anytime I hear ninety-six tears in my brain, I remember the group that sang the song…..Question Mark and the Mysterians with Question Mark written as ?.
So, my initial and lasting impression of Krell was of a mysterious guy who would have a lot of questions for me to consider and about whom I would have a lot of questions which he would probably never consider because I would never pose the questions what with the hockey playing and the drum sets.
Next, he took out a match. Before striking the match he informed us that the sounds he had just made were the letters of the Greek alphabet. He said his first goal was to have everyone in the class be able to repeat those sounds in the time it took a match to burn down to the finger tips. With that he struck the match and recited the alphabet and with a flourish blew out the match in plenty of time.
“I’m going to repeat the alphabet. You will take notes while I recite. Then, I’m going to call on one of you. . I will light the match. You will recite the Greek alphabet before the match burns my fingers. You may use your notes”
With that, he repeated “Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu, Nu, Xi, Omicron, Pi, Rho, Sigma, Tau, Upsilon, Phi, Chi, Psi, Omega“.
I stopped drawing the hockey rink and right there on the still freezing ice, I took my first serious notes Alfa, Bayta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zayta, Eighta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mew, New, Zi, Omicron, Pi, Rho, Sigma, Tau, Upsilon, Phi, Chi, Sigh, Omega.
I wasn’t looking around to see if anybody else was taking notes.
Krell paused at Omega. He looked at the attendance roster. He took a match from the pack. He said “Mr. Paris. You will give me back the alphabet. You may use your notes. I will count to five and light the match”
I don’t remember much about Mr. Paris except that he was wearing a tee shirt that said “Weed Man”. When Krell got to five, Paris got to his feet and headed to the door. With the match still burning in Krell’s hand, Paris looked back at the spontaneous combustion in the front of the room. “Kiss my fart” he yelled and walked out the door.
Krell kept the match burning in silence until it reached his finger tips at which point he said “Ouch” and shook the match out.
“Kiss my fart” Krell mused aloud "what an interesting juxtaposition of the physical upon the invisible. He might have been a great student but alas, I’m afraid that’s the last time we’ll see Paris”
He took out another match. “Let’s try it again. Haylen Kamp, it‘s your turn”
Helen read the alphabet from her notes. She finished with plenty of match to spare.
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