Nuts and Soft-Centers

This is a response to bumblepuppies’ Black Light Candelabra prompt. If you’re looking for an interesting weekly writing challenge, check out

Write “…a dozen mini-pieces in a single post.  Each mini-piece should be 25-35 words and be self-contained…Whatever strategy you choose, the twelve pieces should look like a coherent whole when they’re juxtaposed in your post.”


The first day, they’re all the same, though they try to stand out, one from the other, striking the predictable poses of late adolescence.

“OK guys, if I pronounce your name wrong, let me know? Jesus Martin? Good. Oh my god, this is funny. Jesus, looks like your dad is here. Joseph Martin?” Only Joseph laughs. “Hi son!” he says.

“Hey prof!” “Whoa, Joe! I hear you made pro!” “Yeah. Come meet my girlfriend. She’s over here.” Joe picks me up and carries me across the library. Is that why I never got tenure?

“Your quizzes are hard and you’re mean. It says so on Ratemyprofessor. You make students cry.” “Have you read the chapter?” “I don’t have a book yet.” I think, “Fuck off,” but I say nothing.

“Remember me? I was in your class four years ago? I dropped out to join the Marines? You tried to talk me out of it? I’ve been in Eye-rack.” I remember. War is easier than breaking up with a bad boyfriend?

“Professor, guess what? I got a marketing job! I work in Vegas. I stand beside cars!” She pulls up her tube top. Mensa level IQs are wasted on long-legged blondes with store-bought tits.

“Dude! Dude! Wait, DUDE! Professor Dude!” He grabs my jacket. “You know that ‘Allegory of the Cave’ thing you made us read?  Dude, that’s my LIFE.” “I know, Chris. It’s everybody’s life.”

“I’m retaking your class. This time I’m getting an A.” “It’s easy. Just take all the quizzes, do the homework. Show up.” “Thanks for failing me. You woke me up.” “Are you sucking up?” “A little.”

“Why do we have to read this? It’s boring.” “That book changed the world. You need to know what it says or you’re going to live in a future just like that. How far are you?” “Two  pages.”

“Professor, can we talk? I can’t talk to my parents. The thing is, I’m gay. My parents don’t know. They’re Christian. Being gay is a sin.” I think, “They know.” I say, “Give them a chance.”

“Don’t quit just because of one bad class. You’re a great teacher. You really care about us and you want us to learn.” “Thank you,” I write, “It’s time for someone else to carry this baton.”

“Professor, I hope you like Colorado. I wanted to tell you I’m going home to Iraq for the first time since we moved here. I’m scared.” “Don’t be. Write me when you get back. Tell me everything.”


13 thoughts on “Nuts and Soft-Centers

  1. Love it. Will forward it to a prof I know (who, to my knowledge, has never been tit flashed and will grumble about it). Thanks also for alerting us to another source of good prompts.

    • Oh the girl didn’t tit-flash me. She just liked to wear this bizarre dress that had an elastic waist and elastic on top. It was a hideous color of green (maybe even terry cloth) and tended to go lower than she may have wanted it. I’m pretty sure she came to class right from a tanning bed.

    • I had no idea what I would do until I got the image of a classroom being like a box of chocolates. The room = box; students = chocolates. Then I had a good time with it.

  2. I like the way you handled this. I got stuck on the whole “12 separate things” concept. Too much thinking retired and I seem to have given up thought for the time being. I taught a bit too — just a couple of years and they were all adult “retreads” trying to become writers after burning out in other fields — they were quite a collection of characters.

    Great quick sketches. You said a lot in only a few words.

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