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Chapter Five: My Children Aren’t Biological
I have been single all my life so far, and I expect to be single for the rest of my life. I like being alone. I know men who go hunting not because they like to hunt, but because it is the only time all year they can be alone for more than a few minutes. I am the type of person who likes to be alone for most of each day. I can visit family on vacation and be around people for most of a few days, but then I need to get back home so I can be alone.
Quite simply, I am the type of man who finds the life led by Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good as It Gets to be quite attractive, except for the misogyny, and the racism, and the cowardice, and the obsessive-compulsive disorder, and probably a few other things. Still, he makes a good living by writing novels and he spends much of each day alone. Then he had to go and ruin it all by falling in love. (It’s hard to believe that I have a sister — Brenda Kennedy — who writes romance books.)
To any women who write complaining posts on Reddit’s Forever Alone thread, I apologize. I also give you permission to say that you and I used to be engaged to be married, but we called off the wedding due to a matter of life and death — we would have killed each other. You might be able to use this story to answer prying questions about why you haven’t married or remarried yet. Add all the gruesome details you want. Be sure to blame me.
But I do have children, just not biological children. As a teacher at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, which is commonly confused with Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, I taught 60 or more adult children — usually from age 18 to 22 (Yay! No ] diapers!) — each quarter, back when Ohio University was on the quarter system.
Most of my students were angels, but some were not. Unfortunately, I found plagiarism in student papers and in some cases I sent the student to University Judiciaries, where the most common punishment dealt to guilty students was being put on Academic Probation. Even more unfortunately, I am positive that I did not discover all the plagiarism that occurred. Most students, of course, worked hard and did not plagiarize.
Here’s an example of academic dishonesty that was not committed by one of my students, but that one of my students told me about. My student and her acquaintance were taking a class in computer programming, but both were having a hard time learning the subject. When the final computer-programming project was due, neither had been able to complete it, but another student gave copies of his work to everyone who wanted it. My student was honest and did not pass off work as her own that she had not done. Her acquaintance, however, accepted a copy of the other student’s work and handed it in as her own work. Result: My student failed with an F, and her acquaintance passed with an A. My student retook the class, learned how to program, put the class on her resume, and got a job as a computer programmer. Her acquaintance did not retake the class, did not learn how to program, put the class on her resume, and got a job as a computer programmer. My student was a good programmer and kept her job, while her acquaintance was not a good programmer and got fired. My student then made a Xerox copy of her paycheck and mailed it to her acquaintance with this note: “Ha! Ha!”
Back when I was a student at Ohio University, my roommate and his best friend wanted to go on Spring Break in Florida, but they had hardly any money, and certainly not enough money for food. They ended up stealing apples and brownies from the cafeteria. (Students were not allowed to take cafeteria food back to the dorms.) Of course, the brownies grew hard and stale, and they grew tired of eating apples, so they stole food from stores. They would go in a store, unwrap an ice cream sandwich, shove half of it in their mouth when no one was looking and then shove the other half in their mouth when no one was looking. God, of course, was looking, and God punished them with incredibly painful brain-freeze.
By the way, one of the students in my dorm had no morning classes, and so he slept late. However, his student meal card included breakfast, and so he would set his alarm, go to the cafeteria in his pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers, eat breakfast, and then go back to his room and sleep.
Also by the way, Ohio University frequently hosts such special occasions as Moms Weekend, during which students’ mothers come to visit them. I once got a big laugh at the beginning of a class by saying after one Moms Weekend, “I must be getting old. Some of these OU moms look hot!”
Of course, freshman students don’t want other, older students to know that they are new to campus. One of my students carried a campus map in her backpack for her first few days at Ohio University. Whenever she got lost, she would find a building, go into the women’s restroom, go into a stall and shut the door, and then look at the map and find out where she was. If any one had seen her consult the map, that person would know that she was a freshman.
Speaking of freshmen, one of my students was from out of state and did not know even a single person in Ohio. She spoke to her sister about being worried that she wouldn’t make any friends at Ohio University. Her sister told her, “Don’t worry! You’ll be fine! Just don’t talk to strangers!”
Each summer, lots of incoming students go through freshman orientation at Ohio University. They stay in dorms, go on tours of the campus, and visit the library, among many other things. After the library tour, students get free Freezy-Pops, but librarians tell them that a student first has to ask a question before the members of the tour group get Freezy-Pops. Of course, this encourages students to ask questions about the library; however, once an incoming student, a young woman of wit and intelligence, asked, “Can I have a Freezy-Pop?”
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