Okay. The morning started as usual. I woke up, fell over my freakishly small feet as I attempted to remember how to open my eyes, and fed the cats. Then I collapsed onto the couch and of course, got on the internet.
Immediately I logged on to YouTube, found a couple heartbreaking videos, sobbed my eyes out, and then watched the news and began my day. As I do every day.
Then I got on Facebook. Like you do. And there was a wonderful picture of my very first professor from college, his husband, and their preposterously gorgeous daughter. And I got a little sentimental. Started thinking about the past. Dabbed my eyes, and said to myself “Dammit, I’m writing to Dave.” (Dave was my prof.) So I wrote. And wrote. AND WROTE. So poor Dave got a HUGE message on FB from me gushing about how wonderful and talented he was, how gorgeous his family was, how privileged I had been to be his student back in 1995, etc. After about 500 words, I finally said “okay, this is getting a bit ridiculous” and hit “send.” And I thought “well, that was that. On with the day.”
But it wasn’t. I couldn’t stop thinking about Dave’s class and how it was the first time I walked into a college classroom, terrified, awkward, and wondering if it was inappropriate to wear a Metallica t-shirt to your first day of college. I was a mess. Here I was, an 18 year old girl from Jersey who had spent her whole life being taught (and I use that word very loosely) by nuns and now I was at one of the most liberal colleges in the country, in an advanced writing class at 10 AM Monday morning on my very first day of college. And then there was Dave.
Not only was he an outstanding, hilarious and very sarcastic teacher, he was just a good man. A fine man. He told us about his husband (darling Lily, their wonderful daughter, hadn’t come along yet) and told us stories about how hard and weird it was growing up as a gay man in a Seventh Day Adventist household. But most importantly, he taught us to WRITE. Write. Write well. Shit, even if what you write is crap, KEEP DOING IT. Do it every day. Write REALLY well. That’s not good enough. Try again. Do another draft. Here are some notes. Try again. And dammit, there I was at 3 AM on my huge ancient word processor (kids, that’s what we had after typewriters and before computers) working as hard as I could. Because Dave wanted me to be a good writer. And fuck it, I WAS going to do it, even if it killed me. (It almost did, thanks a pantload, Dave.) I wrote and wrote. Some of it was decent, some of it was absolute crap. Most of it was somewhere in the middle. The tiny little screen on the word processor almost made me go blind. I kept going.
Second semester I ended up writing a 40 page (FORTY) paper about America’s fascination with serial killers for Dave’s class. It was a full-semester project. I read endless books and articles (at the library, using a card catalog) about serial killers. I worked SO hard on this paper. I’d take all my classes, get home from working backstage at the theater for hours, do all my other homework, and then write about psychotic killers all night. There’s a lot you can do when you have the stamina of an 18 year old. Now? Not so much. It ain’t 1995 any more. But I did it, dammit. I did it. Because Dave was an amazing teacher, and honestly? I wanted to impress him. Yeah, that didn’t happen so much when I was on my third draft and came staggering into class with my eyes bugging out of my head howling “CHARLES MANSON NEVER KILLED ANYONE! HE’S A GENIUS! LOOK WHAT I READ LAST NIGHT!!!” Then I passed out on the floor. It was a very special moment of my life.
Anyway, this is starting to sound like Dave died or something. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dave, his husband, and their daughter are alive, well, and happy. Dave is an accomplished author now of several books, and I am sure he will only find more happiness and success in the future.
I have no idea why all of this came to me today, or why I was so intent and dedicated to writing (at obscene length) about it. But I’m glad I did. Thank you, Dave. Thank you.