It was the spring after…my second year of university? It may have been my first year. It makes me feel old that I don’t remember. But it’s not that important.
It was spring session, and I was trying to get as many credits out of the way as possible. See, I worked somewhere between almost full-time and more than full-time hours during my BA, so I took spring and summer classes every year so that I could take fewer than five courses a semester during the regular academic year.
I was taking Drama 149. It was intro to acting or something. That wasn’t the official class name, but it was the first drama course I was allowed to take that was on-your-feet drama, not theatre history or studying play texts.
It was also a class that satisfied the required fine arts credits of like, every degree ever. So in terms of participants, it was a mixed bag.
I forget everyone’s names except the guy who was my partner for our final scene assignment. His name is Mike. The only other people you really need to know about are Jason, who is about to become “That Guy” in this story, and Aaron, who became “That Guy” in our class, because he’s blind.
Aaron was a normal dude in a drama class who didn’t really want to be in a drama class. He was a totally shy nerd, but he was a nice enough guy. To be entirely honest, I think that our instructor – who, by the way, was batshit insane – drew way too much attention to the fact that Aaron was blind. Like, yeah, cool that he still wanted to try a drama class, but also, he had to for his degree. There was one day where we each took turns trying to navigate the room with our eyes closed. That was interesting. After that, it was like, “Okay, we get it – Aaron’s blind. He’s over it. So are we.”
But I digress.
Jason took an immediate liking to Aaron. Jason was a weird dude. He was also a shy nerd, but his quietness, rather than being peaceful like Aaron’s, was creepy. The two of them seemed to become friends. They would arrive to class together, and would often work together on exercises and assignments.
Great. Whatever. I worked with Mike a lot. Because (A) he was one of the only “normal” (see: not hating on the class, but not way too into it) people in the class, and (B) he was hot.
And so the drama class happened.
It was, unfortunately, the most stereotypically awful drama class ever.
We sat back to back and hummed to feel each other’s vibrations. We lay on the floor flat on our backs and “meditated” until we cried from thinking about horrible life experiences, and when our final scenes came along, our instructor systematically took every comedic scene and turned it into a rape scene. I’m being entirely serious. I think something was very wrong with our instructor.
But I digress again.
Before our final scene assignments, something more traumatizing than our instructor would happen to our class.
It started out like a normal day. We were all sitting on the floor in a circle, taking turns telling the class how we were feeling that day, and what we had for breakfast. (OH MY GOD THE CLICHES ARE MAKING MY BRAIN HURT.) I’m 100% certain I made something up. Because it’s nobody’s business what I had for breakfast. Or how I’m feeling.
When it got to Jason, something wasn’t right. He looked pallid. His eyes were dark. He looked kind of like a heroin addict, with sunken-in cheeks and a weird sheen of cold sweat on his face. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but he went off on a tangent that started with him saying something about having sex for breakfast and went on for like, seven minutes too long.
It was totally fucked up, and our weirdo instructor ate it up.
“Fantastic.” He said, clasping his hands together and holding them under his chin like his world had just been shaken. And then, like nothing weird had happened, we moved on to the next person in the circle.
Cue my eye roll.
And then another one.
We split off into our pairs to work on our scenes. Mike and I were mid-conversation when we heard somebody screaming. I turned to see what was going on and froze: Jason was attacking Aaron. Just absolutely pummeling him. Aaron – who had obviously not seen the attack coming – was knocked to the ground yelling, “NO! NO! STOP! PLEASE STOP!” while Jason screamed, punching him over and over again.
Mike – who was also the only other guy in the class – took off toward them to break up the fight.
After what was probably five seconds but felt like five minutes, Mike managed to peel them apart, but instead of chilling the fuck out, Jason left Aaron and – face red with rage, still growling like a crazy animal – started stomping toward me. I panicked and turned toward the wall, trying to think of ways I could defend myself. Luckily I didn’t have to, because Mike managed to wrestle Jason to the ground and, with the help of our instructor, carry him out of the room.
The guys were gone for quite a while. A number of people attended to Aaron to make sure he was okay (he was, thank goodness). I cried, but nobody cared. I’m not holding it against them. I was just scared; I hadn’t actually been hurt. When Mike and our instructor eventually returned, class was cancelled for the rest of the day.
Jason was expelled from the university. He issued a letter of apology. We were all too freaked out to care. We heard rumours that his wife had just gone through a miscarriage, and that may have been what set him off. It didn’t make anything okay.
SIDENOTE: Neither did the tacky “cleansing” ceremony our instructor made us perform before we reentered the classroom after the incident. It involved haiku. (Holy shit, it involved the haiku.) And was directly proceeded by him turning all of our funny scenes into CRY-CRY-SOB-SOB rape and pillage disasters.
About a month ago, I wrote about Scott, the fourth grade desk flipper. This is sort of like version 2.0 of that: you never know what the last straw is going to be. It’s also kind of amazing to think about how much trust we have to have in absolute strangers every single day. We go to school with them, drive next to them, run errands beside them, let them serve us food, or operate on our bodies, pretty much always trusting that we’re safe. And luckily, 98% of the time, we are. Because luckily, 98% of people are genuinely good. *
Whoa. Deep, right?
I’m trying to end this blog post in a way that doesn’t make me roll my eyes at myself. I’m struggling. So give me a break, okay? I’m not trying to blow your mind or anything, but it is true.
*I totally made up that number, but you get my point.