See you, and raise you
One of my senior colleagues, a professor in the humanities division, was telling stories at a casual faculty gathering. For reasons that will become readily apparent, let's refer to him as “Donald Trump.” He began to reminisce about a former fellow instructor who was much given to bragging. Professor Bigmouth was always ready to share stories about his great accomplishments, and those of his family. Professor Trump grew weary of the constant brag barrage and finally decided it would be more fun to play along than to merely endure it.
“Hey, Don,” said Professor Bigmouth on the first day of the semester. “What a great summer I had! I started a workout program and lost 20 pounds!”
Professor Trump smiled. “Sounds good, Bigs. I'm impressed! And I really know what you mean because I lost 25 pounds on my own exercise program. Never felt better!”
Don is rail thin and doesn't have 25 pounds to spare (unless there's still some cash in his pocket from his last trip to England). But Professor Bigmouth was too disappointed at having been trumped to notice. He subsided with some mumbling and went his way to his next class.
A week later
“Hey, Don. Did you hear about Yahoo? Their stock went up several points right after I picked up a bundle of shares. Nice timing, huh?”
“Excellent, buddy! Congratulations! It can get confusing, though. I remember when Microsoft declared a stock split how much more difficult it got to keep track of how many shares I had. Suddenly you have twice as many. And it happened more than once, you know.”
Professor Bigmouth developed a sickly smile and was suddenly and conveniently distracted by someone else he needed to talk to.
A month later
“Hey, Don. Guess what? My wife won a blue ribbon at the county fair for her flower arrangements. It's a really tough competition, but she ran away with it!”
“Wow, that's super! Flowers! Nice. My wife scored a pair of blue ribbons for her baked goods at a regional competition last spring. That's riskier for hubby, you know, when the wife bakes like that. Good thing I'm on that fitness program or I'd be blimping out. Maybe it would be better if she took up gardening and flower arranging. Easier on me, anyway.”
“Uh, yeah. Um.”
Professor Bigmouth needed some lilies to clasp to his chest.
Just before finals week
“Get a load of this, Don! It's my Speech 101 roster. This term I'm going into finals with a 75% retention rate. That's pretty amazing for a killer course like Speech 101. I'm going to set some kind of departmental record.”
“Wow, Bigs, congratulations! That's almost as good as the 80% retention rate in my class last semester.”
“What? You held 80% in 101 last spring?”
“Oh, wait a minute. Sorry, Bigs. My mistake. I got 80% retention in Speech 102 last spring, not 101.”
“But 102 is an even tougher course, Don.”
“Yeah, you got that right. That's why I remember the 80% retention. Pretty proud of pulling that off in 102.”
The speech teacher was speechless.
End of semester
“Hey, Don. See my new car in the faculty lot?”
“That yours, Bigs? Nice!”
“Yeah, super mileage. I'm getting 37 mpg on the highway.”
“Excellent! That can really make a difference. Mine gets about 42. I got it a year ago, so I've racked up a lot of savings in fuel costs.”
“Oh. That's really good, Don.”
“Definitely. Top of the line.”
Professor Bigmouth was running out of gas.
Donald is walking toward the faculty office building when Professor Bigmouth comes charging up. His colleague looks rather exercised.
“God damn it, Don! You son of a bitch! I just figured something out!”
“Really, Bigs? Well, I just figured two things out!”