This Was Supposed to be a Research Paper, Sir

“This was supposed to be a research paper, sir, not a short story.”
How many times did the man hear that over the years of college
and graduate school?  (Thank the Lord for the recommendations
from fiction loving faculty: The kid’s got talent. Good luck

getting him to stop submitting poetry for statistical research.)
But the man had loved his English profs along the academic way,
one who came to class one day beaten up by his partner but still
got through act one of Julius Caesar but not quite to “Et tu, Brute?”;

the theatrical but stuttering English prof. who looked like
Falstaff, ate and drank too much and died of a heart attack at
fifty-two at his study desk at the University of London on a
faculty exchange; and the guy who looked like Ernest Hemingway,

also smoked too much and urged his students on a nice, warm spring
day to ditch class and go sit on a log in the woods. That prof. got
a condescending rap from his hyper-evangelical, snooty academic
relatives for not getting a Ph.D. and only settling for an MFA. He

was a rebel with a cause but he died young, too. The man doesn’t know
what happened to the not very closeted prof but the man hopes he and
his lover made up or that he eventually dropped the dude and found
true love. None of the three published much, but they loved their

subject and loved sharing that love. The man has never been physically
beaten; doesn’t smoke,  isn’t obese and hopes to live to a ripe old
age, but in his own conventional way tries to strike a pose as a rebel,
too, by taking pride in the fact that he dropped that statistics class.

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