Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Elmer the Epistolatory Rapist Confesses His Sins Upon Sherry Super-Keener.

Confession time. I’m a horrible person. I let a super-keener peer know that she was being a pain in the ass.

OK, I tried to do it in a nice way. After six weeks of hearing nothing out of Sherry but random associations which could not possibly have been followed, even by a person who had just consumed a pound of hash brownies—things like “The stuff you’re saying about Robert Frost? It’s exactly like what we were just discussing in my typing class, which I’ll describe in ten minutes of excruciating and pointless detail” or “That Langston Hughes poem reminds me of a little doggy I had when I was six years old, living in a small house with a pear tree in the back yard. . .” I had reached my limit.

What did I do? I didn’t want a personal confrontation, and I had no desire to humiliate her in front of the class. Instead, I took what I thought to be the safest route. I looked up Sherry's address in the telephone book, and I wrote her an anonymous, non-threatening, exceptionally polite letter which explained that which the professor lacked the balls to have ever explained to her. That the class is about everyone in the class, and it’s best if people control their own participation so that other people can also feel like they belong.

You know what? It modified her behavior. There was a noticeable change the day after the letter arrived. Sherry sat quietly in class for ten minutes while those who had previously been silenced spoke their piece about the poems, then she politely raised her hand, and as I held my breath in anticipation, she said the following: “I FEEL LIKE I'VE BEEN RAPED!!!”

Hmmm. I hadn’t really thought about that response, but the parallels are certainly there. Forcibly inserting my member into another person’s body without their consent is EXACTLY like writing them a letter that criticizes their class participation style. How could I have not known that? I am in fact, an epistolatory rapist. I have to live with that. I also have to live with the fact that from that point forward, the class was toast.

Sherry was now not only a super-keener, but a super-keener who had been a victim of intellectual violence, and was thus free to be ten times the disruption she had previously been, because after all, you have to give a rape victim the time to talk it out. My advice? Don’t interfere with super keeners. They always win.