The Birth of a Tyrant

More years ago than I remember . . . .

I entered the class room with the All American Boy.  It was a small class room because it was a small class, and that what’s nice about going to a small private school.  It was held in one of the original buildings dated before the 1900s, and the floors creaked.  It was an upper division creative writing class, which is to say, it was everyone’s favorite.  Well except one.

The AAB was finishing his story as we sat down, and I bantered back.  We had a creative writing professor who once told the class that he liked listening to AAB and I talk because we were naturals at dialogue like watching Seinfeld.  The business major walked in, a minute late.  This wasn’t his favorite class; he told us on the first day of class he took it to learn to write better.  Unfortunately the cream of the creative writing crop all took the same class.  Accidentally together.  I just had the luck to join them.

Business Major: (smiling) Hi, Fae!

Me: (smiling) Hi, Business Major!  How’s it going?

Business Major: (sitting at the far end of the circle) Good.  What’s up?

Me: The sky.

The Business Major chuckled and then dug into his bag, taking his attention from me.

AAB: (lowering his voice) Stop it.  He’s not your type.

Me: (matching his voice) I don’t know what you mean.  Besides any guy who thinks I’m a writing genius is my type.  (I smiled.)

AAB: (rolled his eyes) I don’t remember you being so shallow.  But he’s not your type.  He’s a business major.

Me: Your point being?

AAB: You hate capitalism.  You don’t believe in business men.  As though they’re Santa.

Me: I don’t hate capitalism.  I think it needs some repairs.

AAB: You bite your thumb whenever you pass the Adam Smith bust. 

Me: He was a jackass.  Look at the quote they put on his bust!

AAB: Exactly.  And *he* chose that business school to get a degree from.  He is not your type.

Me: Pssht.  I-

The Writer: It’s been 10 minutes.  Marty’s a PhD.  We have to wait another five.

I looked at the clock.  Bummer.  I returned to banter with AAB.

Four minutes later, Drug Dealer Boy (The college best friend swore that the guy was one, and during one conversation with him, I found out he was.) hurried into the room.

DDB: Marty is outside talking to the Dean.  He says start without him.

We all looked at each other.  I looked around the room at Cat and Lyria, both writers with a cutting sense of humor in their writing.  The Writer sat with a stack of papers in front of him, and I always loved his work, even if it was post-modern.  Drug Dealer Boy took his seat next to The Torture Artist (so named because AAB and I made fun of him for having to write everything on an old typewriter “because it’s more real.”  Pssht.) who had a stack of papers next to him.  The Business Major smiled at me when I caught his eye.  I smiled back.  Then silence settled in the classroom.  Awkward silence.

Well, hell.  I love this class.  If no one was going to speak, then I will.

Me: Any one do any cultural events?

Marty required us to attend one cultural event a week because he believed writers had to be among the people to be good writers.  He envied the countries who used to send their artists and writers off to other countries to do their craft and be among the people.  Many of the professors felt the same.  Most grad students had to give their orals at one of the bars around the town because if you can’t have a beer and discuss your writer than you didn’t learn enough.  Marty’s sense of cultural event was wide, including a good bar, a sporting event, a movie as well as poetry readings, art galleries and such.

We waited for someone to take the reins and begin the class.  A class full of natural leaders and writers, who loved the class, and we all just sat there, staring, waiting.  Oh. F it.

Me: I went to Disneyland this last weekend.

Cat: Don’t you always?

Me: (I stuck out my tongue) Yes, but it’s still a cultural event.  But if you want more, I saw The New Movie this weekend.

The Writer: Me too.  Opening night?

He used to be a film major, and I hung out with film majors.

Me: Of course.  The Block.  10 o’clock showing.

The Writer: The Block.  9:35.  I liked the dialogue.  Intelligent, quick.

Me: Me too.

DDB: I went to a poetry reading at Beyond Braroque.

Business Major: That place was cool.  I went with Fae and AAB a few weeks ago.  Who read?

A few more comments, and then the silence began again.  We waited again for someone to start the class.  F it.

Me: Ok.  Who’s got stories?

The Writer: (He smiled at me.)  I do.

He passed around his story and began to read as we listened and took notes.

Half way through, Marty entered the room.

Marty: Oh, good!  You started!

Me: Yes, Martin.  We did.  If you would please take a seat, The Writer is in the middle of reading his story.

Marty gave me a smile that conveyed his thoughts, which were, “Stop being a smart ass, Miss _________.”  I returned it with a sweet, innocent smile.

Ryan finished reading.  We all turned to our professor who stared back at us.  A beat.  Another beat.

Marty: Go ahead.  I always wanted to see how a class would ruin without a professor. 

Me: So you want us to do your job, while; you still get paid.

Marty: Yes.  I think it would an interesting experiment.  Go on.

A beat.  Everyone looked at me.  I sighed.  I launched into my critique of The Writer’s work.  He nodded, listening to me.  The others in the class followed my lead.  When we were done discussing the piece and Marty had his say, I called for the next story.

***

At the next class, I walked in with AAB, telling him a story.  We were laughing and bantering back and forth when we noticed the room had gone silent.  It was time for class to begin.  Marty sat there at his usual seat at the foot of the circle in front of the white board and near the door, waiting.  We all waited for someone to speak.  It only took a an awkward beat.

Me: Ok.  Who has a cultural event?

I looked around waiting for someone else to lead the conversation.  Another awkward beat.  Fine.

Me: Ok. Who has a story?

AAB: I do.

He handed them out and then read his story.  A natural beat followed his story, and I began the discussion critiquing his work.  Then another story and more discussion followed.

The next class began, and I didn’t wait for the awkward beat to descend on us.  I launched the class into the cultural event discussion and then I moved us on to reading stories.  This time I had a story, and I’ll be damned if I was going to waste the time.

Class ended.

Marty: Fae, you’re doing a good job.

The Writer: She’s a regular tyrant.

Me: Any time you want to step in.

The Writer: Uh, no.  You’re doing fine. 

AAB: But you’re still a tyrant.

Me: Fine.  I’m a tyrant. 

Cat: And a damn good one.

AAB: She has lots of experience.

Me: That’s me.  Fae _____: Tyrant.  Actually.  I like that.  (Using my hands like I was spreading out the words.)  Fae ________: Tyrant.  You know, I’m going to make business cards.

AAB: House of Insanity business cards?

Me: We already have a phone line and a business stamp!  And I just sto- found a lab coat.

AAB: Come on, Tyrant.  Let’s catch the cafeteria before it closes.

He gave me a gently shove towards the door.

The Writer: I’ll walk with you guys.  As long as it’s ok with the Tyrant.

We walked out the door.

Me: You may walk with us.  I should get a crown!

AAB: Tyrants don’t have crowns. 

Me: Says who?

AAB: They have military uniforms.

Me: I have fairy wings!

The Writer: Fairy wings?

AAB: You haven’t seen her running around the quad with fairy wings on?

The Writer: I thought it was a joke.

Me: Hi Myron!

The boys: Hi Professor!

Myron: Good evening, Fae, boys.  Stay out of trouble.

Me: Maybe I should get a theme song.

AAB: See what you started?

The Writer: We’ll wait her out.  If we all start calling her Tyrant for the semester, she’ll get tired of it.

AAB: Wanna bet?

 

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