“Class dismissed. Mr. Miller, a word please.”
The well-rested body of students peeled from their seats, eyes watering under the condescending glare of the burning fluorescent lights. I honestly believe I was the only person who bothered to stay awake during the dry, droning lecture. And I probably looked like an idiot for doing so.
For a class that prided itself on conquering the poetry of the English language, you’d think the professor would at least have one creative bone in his body. You’d also think he’d be a man who’d stretch the imagination and think wildly outside the box. From the utmost point of sincerity, I wish I had just described our teacher and not his polar opposite.
With great reluctance, I scooped up my backpack and clambered down the stairs to his desk, wondering what part of my attendance he had a problem with. My grades were good, I stayed awake in class, and I never started a much longed for heated debate with him during school hours. As his standards were severely low, I’m not sure what he could possibly find wrong with me.
“You wanted to speak with me, sir,” I reminded him as he stared glassily at the computer screen.
“Right, right,” he muttered, tearing his eyes away, “I wanted to ask you a question about the paper you turned in.”
My carefully constructed paper was dripping in red ink. Every sentence was crossed out and rewritten into a mess that vaguely resembled his toneless lectures. The once humorous and slightly sarcastic story now lay in a murdered puddle of useless facts and painful fiction.
“The premise of the story was gripping,” he admitted.
“Is it even there anymore?” I asked, staring at the jumble of red ink.
“I only found one fault.”
“You used adverbs,” he looked thoroughly appalled, “why?”
“Why?” I asked for clarification.
“They are pointless and take away from your writing style.”
“I’m here to study English, sir, and I was under the impression adverbs were part of the English language, hence my reason for using them.”
“They are a cheap way of explaining yourself.”
For someone who claimed to be a master at the art of the written and spoken word, it was amazing how just a single syllable could stump him into an unintelligible string of stutters as he tried fruitlessly to come up with a good answer for my simple question.
“They-they don’t follow the ‘show don’t tell’ rule,” he finally spat out.
“I understand the need for that rule in certain circumstances, but again, why are we limiting the English language? Isn’t this class supposed to be about expanding our knowledge to find different ways to use words and make them into stories? What’s the point in setting so many arbitrary rules and guidelines? Shouldn’t we be trying to create the most unique piece of art? How am I suppose to do that when I have to force my style to fit into this illogical box of pointless regulations?”
I inhaled a gulp of air. That speech deserved an award and a standing ovation. Though, judging by the large stack of homework my teacher immediately ladened me with, all to be written on the evils of adverbs, he was not overly impressed with my rant.
I staggered out of the classroom, my mind weighed down with the impossible task before me. To put it into perspective, if I were being lucratively compensated for the number of hours I would have to spend on the homework he graciously provided for the next week, I’d be able to pay off all my school loans and then some.
They told me to go to college. They said it would be fun. They said it would be educational. They also said I’d meet some of the most brilliant minds in the world. And you know what I say? Liars.
I only had forty-six days and seventeen hours left with this robotic professor. And since today was only the beginning, the rest promised to be very interesting.
I’d say may the best man win, but I’m afraid that would seem rather selfish.