Yes sir I mean no sir I mean, fuck.

He says Please keep the cursing to a minimum in my motherfucking classroom. The class laughs. With anyone else I would think less of them for using the easy joke, but he knows it's easy, that's why he did it. He knows the right strings, and he pulls. Sometimes I think he is a good man and is only searching for people who can't be so easily manipulated. That is what I am trying to be anyway. I don't know if it's what he really wants from me but it's all I can do.

But not right now. The important thing now is to get out of his spotlight. Say something moderately insightful that might occupy him for a moment, distract him in any direction other than me. As it is, he's perched on the desk in front of mine, sitting backwards and higher than me, frowning down, waiting. There was a guy sitting there, but he made him get up. The guy did not complain or refuse. I like to think/pretend I would have.

Years later. Years of being pretty sure I failed whatever his undefined test was. But I cannot get away from Lolita. I am reading this other novel and the author is doing all sorts of sneaky things with words, shuffling the letters around like a trick deck. Maybe you know it's rigged but you do not know what he is going to do with it. And then I am reading this other book and I cannot get away from Faulkner. Please don't think I'm well-read. I hardly know Faulkner. I only read that one awful book. And now it has come back to show me new things in what I am reading now.

This happens over and over. It did not happen in college and it did not happen right away afterwards. It needed gestation I guess.

I start a letter. It has been building for a while and it is ripe and only wants writing down. Dear Dr. Williams I hated you at the time and I will not pretend I am entirely past that. You never stopped demanding, you made everything so hard. Now, I cannot get away from you and maybe that is not what you were after but I would like to thank you anyway. Here are the things I have started to learn. There is more to the letter, but it is not for you.

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