I’ve been away for three months. The flat has altered a bit. Without my steady hand at the tiller, the girlfriend has taken a few liberties on the place. She has installed one of them awful magnified mirrors in the bathroom so we “Can see all our pores and wrinkles.”
This isn’t the only problem. As I desperately stare into the bathroom mirror, on the wall opposite there is a poster of a handsome longhaired man who happens to be the lead singer of a band called “Citizen Cope.” It’s awful. I look in the mirror, I see me. But I also see a better-looking man behind me. It’s depressing on a daily scale. I’ve complained but the thing is nailed into the wall. It’s like a before and after plastic surgery shot.
The next night, we are out having a drink. Halfway through the night my girlfriend starts nodding her head to some music and starts smiling.
“Tom, this is ‘Citizen Cope’ you know that band on the bathroom wall.”
“Yeah. They sound rubbish. Where did you get that poster anyway?”
“In Japan. At a concert. I made out with the lead singer afterwards…”
She looks panicked. She’s revealed more than she meant to.
“You...made out...what? You’re telling me that the guy on the poster has tongued you?”
“Tongued? What’s tongued? We just kissed.”
So if seeing a superior man in the background of my mirror image everyday wasn’t bad enough. I have to look at a more handsome and successful man who kissed my girlfriend before I had even met her. Every single day.
It’s my first day at Uni. I’m now one of them older graduate students. Like all people in the world I resent anyone younger than me. This is as true as my disdain for toddlers when I was at primary school as it is now for fresh-faced undergraduate students. I wade through their grinning mass and head to class.
I look at him raise my eyebrows as if to encourage him to do a gag about it. He just looks back at me. Glum. Unsmiling. No reaction to the madness that just happened.
It’s the first class of the year so it’s the classic “Get to know you.” You have to introduce yourself to everyone. They start on the other side of the room but all I’m thinking about is what I’m going to say. Just say the basics, get out, job done. This bloody accent is gonna be my downfall. It’s going to provoke further questioning.
They go through the class. All standard. It’s a mixed group of people. Having lived in China for a number of years and everyone there having black hair I still get shocked by the amazing multi cultural nature of New York. All sorts. This particular class has a large number of Jewish students.
Closer to my go, I start regulating my swallowing so I have a clear throat for my turn. They reach a chap near me. He introduces his self and tells everyone he is a “Professional stand up comedian.”
The teacher seems impressed. “So you will be keeping us all laughing with your jokes?”
The stand up comedian, unsmiling, nods and says, “I hope so.”
They move onto a girl. She says her name. Says when she intends to graduate. She is currently a teacher. Then she says wants to leave education because she “Can’t deal with all the little brats.”
It’s a bold opening gambit isn’t it? Child hate. It is not something that lends itself to positive first impressions.
The professor quizzically repeats “Little Brats.” Jots down some writing and it seems over and I’m next. Right. Swallow. Cough. Clear Throat...
But the girl continues. “Yeah, rich little Jewish kids don’t get me started.”
Silence. A few people look around. Baffled. Did that just happen?
But the Professor didn’t seem to hear it.
More silence. A few of the Jewish lads look at each other as if to say “Here we go again.”
Someone has to say something don’t they? The teacher isn’t going to. I’m not gonna throw myself into the middle of a race war. A few others and myself look towards the “Stand Up comedian.” Surely he can save us from this awkward moment? I look at him raise my eyebrows as if to encourage him to do a gag about it. He just looks back at me. Glum. Unsmiling. No reaction to the madness that just happened.
(There have been 3 classes since and the “stand up comedian” has yet to smile or even do one joke.)
“Next” Says the professor.
It’s me. Swallow. Introduce myself. Normal. I explain I want to work in education when I graduate.
The professor says “Oh you’re like this girl then? Stay away from the little brats huh? You two should start a society”
Laughter. At me. Great. Clubbed in with the anti-Semites on day one.
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