Miss Rue-shay

To document attendance, class began each day with roll call. Professor F had us verbally respond as he checked off each name. The first day of class, as he butchered his way through the “Adamson’s, Mehelesko’s, and the Ponjatowski’s”, I was sure he’d be glad when he got to my easy last name, “Rush”. He’d called the name “Rue-shay” three times before he said “Vicki Rue-shay?” and I realized he was talking to me. I blurted out “here” but I was trying not to laugh and it sounded more like a choked off donkey bray than a word. He glanced up, but it felt as if he was noting the absence of a donkey in his room rather than the presence of a person answering roll call.

Throughout the semester, Professor F rarely made eye contact with his students and I often wondered if he’d even recognize any of us outside of class. He seemed so self-absorbed and he was really old, like 40, probably. I’d classify him as someone who knows where his umbrella is at all times and who isn’t afraid to use it. He had a board up his butt, or maybe a spare umbrella, and a clothespin on his nose. He still had all of his hair and teeth, but he’d lost any sense of humor he’d ever had. This was a shame, really, because Shakespeare, when you got passed his thee’s and thou’s and thus’s, was a really funny guy. I guess you also had to overlook the suicides, poisonings, and beheadings, but there were chuckles hiding in those great works.

In most of the English classes I’d taken, the teachers seemed happy to have the students read aloud, assigning different parts to various students to encourage participation. Professor F preferred to perform his own dramatic interpretation of each line. He often painted the scene for us with his own words and he was not above shouting out the lines and jumping about the room, arms flailing, lips aquiver, tears falling down his cheek. He’d clutch his throat, spin around, and thrust his arm out, his imaginary sword plunging.

While his theatrics were enthralling, nobody in class could have told you how they related to actually teaching. Being just a few steps beyond normal, I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut. Once, when he dropped to his knees, crumpled in anguish, I jumped to my feet and was ready to shout “Bravo!” but he frowned at me, so I muttered “bathroom” and crept out the door.

Bear with me. Only one more part to this college escapade!

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