For new fans that discovered me this week because of my appearance on the "Meet the Author" podcast on BookLending.com, here's a free story from my collection THE CHEAT SHEET. (NOW ONLY 99 cents on Kindle!)
Kelly Meyers was the most popular professor at Betsy Williams College. When Kelly traversed the quad each day he would get smiles and nods of affection from nearly every student. He was more popular than Linda Roberts who taught a much-beloved course on the importance of Wonder Woman in Post-War America. Than Suzanne Wendell who often held her classes outside on sunny days under the big Hall of Languages oak. Even than Imogene Carr who gave every student an A so long as they tried hard. He was also, despite his unisex name, the only male professor at this all-girls school.
Just five years earlier, Kelly had been making love to another in a long line of skanks in his messy apartment in upper Manhattan when his phone rang. The girl bobbing on top of him had been shocked he still had a landline in the year 2005. “I don't like to be easily reached,” he noted, as they kept pounding away. His answering machine picked up. “You have an answering machine?!” She was even more shocked by this development. Modern women just didn't understand the irrelevance of state of the art technology, thought Kelly. “I like to see the awkward look on someone's face when they hear a message they shouldn't. Reminds me of a bygone era.”
That particular answering machine message had been from one Dean Lady Bird Graham, named after the popular Second and then First Lady, but nicknamed by most The Graham Cracker behind her ample back due to her tragically unhip whiteness. But Kelly didn't know any of these things just yet. All he did know was that Dean Graham was calling to urgently ask Kelly in for a job interview at Betsy Williams College that afternoon. Kelly had gotten his Masters at Columbia just four months earlier, but had, as of yet, been unable to get a professorial job, as shocking as that may sound, due to his mediocre grades at Columbia. “That's an all-girls college, you know...” noted the skank as she quivered in orgasm.
Kelly was nevertheless quite excited as he desperately needed a job and some money. He tossed the skank off him and burst out of his room to find his chubby and hirsute roommate, Gary, listening to the in flagrante delictoness Kelly had been previously participating in. Gary wasn't as embarrassed as most people would have been at having gotten caught listening to a friend's love-making and Kelly was neither as mad nor embarrassed as most people would have been at catching someone listening to their lovemaking. The skank was appropriately as mad and as embarrassed as most people would have been if they had caught someone listening to their lovemaking but “I just fucked her, so fuck her,” thought Kelly and “You just fucked her, so fuck her,” thought Gary. “Fuck you both,” said the skank.
Gary, too, was unemployed, if not unemployable, so he accompanied his friend on the longish drive out to Long Island toward Lopersville and Betsy Williams, talking about his idea for audio-only pornography for the first leg of the trip. On the second leg of the trip, Kelly wondered if it was true that Betsy Williams was an all-girls college.
“It most certainly is,” Gary assured him. “My cousin went there.”
“Is it 'all-girls' or 'all-women?' You have to be politically correct nowadays or they'll fire your ass before they even hire your ass. You'll get picketed. Colleges today are fucked up, man. Highly sensitive places. I wonder if they'll even hire a male teacher.”
“Just pretend to be gay. That's almost like being a lady.”
“That's insensitive, Gary, and cliched, too. And the plot of several terrible high concept movies.”
“All academics are 50% gay.”
“You're saying that half of all professors in America are gay?!”
“No, I'm saying that 100% of all professors are at least 50% gay.”
Gary had a lot of weird ideas.
Kelly and Gary arrived at Betsy Williams around 3;00 PM. Kelly found the town of Lopersville to be charming, the campus to be stunning. True, it was in the middle of nowhere, but it stood as a tiny collegiate Eden unruined by fast food chains, strip malls, or frat houses.
“The chicks here are fucking smoking, too,” noted Gary, who was likewise correct.
Lady Bird Graham was quite surprised when the Kelly Meyers she went out to greet in her waiting room was a man. Men never applied for jobs at Betsy Williams—annually voted as U.S. News & World Report's “most” feminist campus in America—so unisex names such as Stacy or Dana never gave Lady Bird any pause. Not that there was anything wrong with men applying for the jobs, in fact, Lady Bird often wondered if she should actively try to get a male professor or two. “Know thine enemy” she often joked to herself, and only to herself, for she would never let her colleagues know she had actually read Sun Tzu, that awful patriarchal strategist, though admittedly, not as bad nor as macho as Machiavelli, she often thought.
She was respectful in her interview of Kelly, going through the same modus operandi, status quo, you know, that she would have gone through with a normal candidate, a female job applicant. She explained that they were rushing to fill a much needed empty slot for the fall semester, set to start in just five days, after the former professor in the position had gotten knocked up—not the word Lady Bird said out loud, she actually said “expecting,” the exact same word the CBS censors made Lucille Ball say as opposed to “pregnant” or what have you when she got knocked up on I Love Lucy during the 1953-1954 season—by God knows whom and been forced to take a leave.
Lady Bird explained that the school was 100% female. Female students, female faculty and staff, even the janitors were female, a recent addition in the last few years as Lady Bird thought women should be cleaning up each others' messes, not relying on men to always bail them out, even if that "bailing out" was simply to mop up a Diet Coke spilled in the dining hall, to empty a trash bin full of discarded tampon applicators. She intentionally tried to be somewhat crass and undesirable in this part of the interview, hoping Kelly would turn the job down. Lady Bird figured she could teach in a pinch if worse came to worse and she was unable to find someone. She had been a professor so many years ago back at Yale and thought it might be fun to have another shot.
Lady Bird also explained that they were pretty much screwed—she didn't say “screwed” though, she would never say screwed. If she was talking about intercourse she eliminated all words that made it sound as if intercourse was something a man did to a woman. Thus, she never said “screwed” or “fucked” or certainly “boned,” “banged,” “bagged,” or even “made love to.” She simply said “intercourse,” “had sex,” or “made love,” lopping the “to” off the end. Likewise, she never even used these terms to refer to a situation being messed up. She simply said “things were messed up” or “FUBAR” if she was being a little saucy. Most people didn't know what the “FU” in “FUBAR” meant any how, just like most didn't know what the “FU” in “SNAFU” meant—now that they had called Kelly in for an official interview. They were screwed, it was messed up, this was a serious SNAFU and totally FUBAR because, now that Kelly had been called in for an official job interview, now that Lady Bird had met Kelly face to face, pursuant to New York State's recently passed Fair Hiring Practices, the mere fact that Kelly was the first and only male applicant they had had that year meant that, so long as he met all necessary criteria, specially lowered criteria of course, the criteria were always lowered to make things “fair”—and Kelly met them all, barely—she was literally forced to hire him.
The one class Kelly would be responsible for teaching would be Feminism 101, the first class that any and all freshman at Betsy Williams were required to take. She thought the fact that he would be teaching a low-level feminist class for rock-bottom pay would be the straw that dissuaded this camel's back.
“May I have an hour to take a walk and think about it?”
“Of course, Mr. Meyers.”
At least he's gay, thought Lady Bird, though she immediately chastised herself for stereotyping.
Gary hadn't wanted to go into the Laissez Faire bar because he thought it sounded “French and snooty,” but Kelly thought it looked like a nice hole in the wall and, besides, there didn't seem to be any other bars around town where they could have a pint and discuss the job offer for fifty-five minutes.
“Holy shit, Kelly, what's the opposite of a 'sausage fest?'” whispered Gary as they entered Laissez Faire to find it, not unexpectedly, completely full of women.
It was obviously a dyke bar but Kelly liked watching Gary hold onto misconceptions about things, like him continuing to think LOL stood for “lots of love,” making his e-mail sign-offs to his mother, “LOL your son,” sound like he was mocking himself and rightly so.
They each ordered a can of Genny Cream with a Jack back from the bartendress and got to talking.
“That dean seemed like a real stick in the mud.”
“She just doesn't want you to work here.”
“Well, maybe I shouldn't work here.”
“Are you fucking crazy, Kelly?” Gary nearly grabbed his friend by his tie. “You're getting a free ticket to work in Elysian Fields, man!”
“What does that even mean?”
“I have no clue, but a lot of bars are named it so I assume it must be, like, paradise or something.”
“I know what Elysian Fields means, I mean, why do you think it's a paradise?”
Gary just shook his head at Kelly, thinking he was the dumb part of their real-life buddy movie pairing.
“Because, you moron, you will be getting all these hot, young, nubile chicks just a few months graduated from high school and the age of consent, yet before they know shit about the world. You'll be able to mold them into...why, into your personal sex slaves!”
Most all of Gary's ideas were ideas that were stolen from high concept movies. Not necessarily high concept movies that already existed, but surely ones that would one day. Trite, easy, borderline misogynistic ideas about how the world worked, how men and women (and gays, don't forget gays) related to each other, as if conceived by a perverted fourteen-year-old mind.
Then again, Kelly did need a job. Kelly looked around the bar, at the no-eds playing pool, darts, watching afternoon baseball, drinking pitchers of beers.
“Look at this miserable town, Gary. All they have is a single lesbian bar.”
Gary looked around, finally realizing what he should have realized all along.
“Us men have been right all along. Women do only go to the bar to try to meet men. In a town without men, what's the point?”
“Great, then you'll take the job and we'll move to Lopersville,” Gary insisted.
“I got nothing to do, and I need a job.”
“I could bartend here," noted Gary. "If I just shaved off my beard I'd look like a lot of these chicks.”
“Don't call them 'chicks.' That's insensitive,” replied Kelly, but he realized that Gary was right. He did look like a lot of these chicks.
“Welcome class of 2009 to your first class of 2005, your first class of your college careers, Feminism 101.”
A dejected Kelly lumbered into Laissez Faire, bellying up to the bar where Gary washed a pint glass.
“You look like you had a rough first day.”
“They all just stared at me. Like who the fuck is this dude teaching us? Who the fuck is this dude teaching us about feminism?”
“Like you were some circus freak.”
“That's an insensitive term. How was your first day?”
“Incredible. You know, I haven't been beardless in five years? It feels so liberating to have shaved it off. I feel like I had been living a lie, hiding behind a hairy curtain, but now I'm free. I've even been hit on twice today. Everyone wonders who the new...”
“Well, they think I'm the new butch dyke in town. Until they talk to me. But still, from afar I was getting hit on!”
“By lesbians. Thus, from afar, you look like a certain kind of lesbian with your Brillo pad of hair and man boobs.”
“Welcome class of 2010 to your first class of 2006, your first class of your college careers, Feminism 101. I'm professor Meyers and I thought it might be nice to start things off by having each of us discuss what feminism means...”
“You're officially a seasoned professor now, buddy. One year closer to tenure. Then you can say whatever crazy shit you want with no repercussions. No more worries about fucking 'sensitivity.'”
“And you're officially a bartender that people whisper about. 'He was here last year too. Is he going to work here the rest of his life?!'”
“Oh, they love me. They don't say that.”
“I'll just have a beer.”
“How did it go today?”
“Better. The incoming freshman have heard of me already so they aren't as scared. They aren't as curious about the one weirdo male.”
“But are you getting through to them?”
“I don't think so.”
“This is a long project, man, but it will be well worth the wait.”
“I didn't get laid all of last year.”
“Neither did I.”
“You never get laid.”
“If we both stick with our plans, this place will be our oysters.”
“Welcome class of 2011 to your first class of 2007, your first class of your college careers, Feminism 101. I'm Kelly and, as you can see, I am not feminine. I am not a woman. But that's OK...”
“So how are this year's batch of chicks looking?”
“Don't call them chicks.”
“For the first time, I noticed that they were better looking. Why is that?”
“You know what Coco Chanel said...”
“You know what Coco Chanel said?!”
“The dykes and I talk.”
“But they certainly don't wear Chanel. Look more like Dickies enthusiasts.”
“Now who's being insensitive?”
“Well Coco Chanel said, 'There are no ugly women, just lazy ones.' These girls have become better looking because they've heard about you. They want to impress you. Obviously. Word is getting around, man. For sure. We need to work on what you're saying in class a little more I would think. That's the real way to a woman's heart. Words. Audio pornography.”
“I think I'm going to really enjoy teaching this year.”
“Welcome class of 2012 to your first class of 2008, your first class of your college careers, Feminism 101. I'm your professor, Kelly. As in, Kelly's my first name, like it could be any of your first names, although it could also be any of your last names, Kitty Kelly for example. But it's not my last name. My last name is Meyers. Just call me Kelly, though. It's great to see so many smiling faces out there and I think we're going to have a great time this year. This is my fourth year teaching this particular class and I'm really starting to, well, if I can kiss my own ass, get pretty good at it. I know I'm going to have fun this year, and I hope you all do too. So, feminism, what do we think about feminism...?”
Kelly walked into Laissez Faire to find Gary sidled up to his new girlfriend, Rocky. They had started dating during the summer when Rocky had begun bartending there, herself. Everyone had heard of pet owners that were said to look like their pets, but until Gary and Rocky had started dating, I'm not sure many people had heard of straight men that looked like their lesbian girlfriends. And, they did. Gary had morphed in the last four years into essentially a dyke with a dick. Rocky loved dating someone she could throw back pitchers of beer with, eat hot wings with, wrestle behind the bar with. You'd have thought the other lesbians would have been mad at Gary for stealing one from their “team,” but they all loved the jovial Gary so much that they totally endorsed this bizarre union. In fact, they even let Gary play on their softball team, though out in right field since he had such a rag arm.
“Welcome class of 2013 to your first class of 2009, your first class of your college careers, Feminism 101.”
Kelly looked around the room. For the first time in his teaching career all eyes were on him. None of the students played with their phones or surfed the internet on their laptops or worked the crossword in the student paper (The Queen Bee) or even looked through the latest issues of US Weekly or CityGirl, magazines Kelly found totally despicable now more than ever.
“I am your professor, Kelly Meyers, but you can just call me Kelly or even K.”
The students were quite attractive. That his-bian Gary was right. His plan had actually worked. These incoming students all knew about Kelly and specifically wanted to be in his class. They nervously tittered with each and every word he spoke.
“As you can see, I am not feminine. I am not a woman.”
He loved having their attention, loved commanding the room, and wanted to be sure he delivered, got through to them. He was their matinee idol and it was a big responsibility.
“However, I am a feminist.”
“I see a lot of looks around the room. 'A feminist?! How can that be? How can this man with his five o'clock shadow and rugged features and, uh, manly parts...”
“...be a feminist?”
Kelly proudly paced around the room, making brief eye contact with as many students as possible.
“Well, I would say to you, my new students, isn't a feminist just someone who thinks that woman should be 100% equal to men?”
After a moment, an increasing amount of “yes” nods.
“Yes? So, in that case, how can we respect any man who isn't a feminist?!”
Fifty-nine minutes later, Kelly exited the lecture hall, feeling like he had finally taught that perfect class he'd been striving to teach for the last five years.
Once he was out of earshot, a few student whispers fluttered around.
“He's so hot.”
“When are his office hours?”
“Is it really true he's gay?”
It was working. It was finally working. That day Kelly proudly walked the quad, totally feeling at ease, proud to be a part of the Betsy Williams community. And they were proud to have him. Not just the students, but the staff and faculty too. Most all of whom smiled, nodded, or even back-slapped and “atta boyed” Kelly as he walked by them.
Even the Graham Cracker nodded in approval, real approval, when she saw Kelly. Something about him still felt a little off, but she had to begrudgingly admit that what she had thought would be a disaster of an accidental hire had actually been the best move, the best mistake she had ever made. Kelly was beloved by all, she couldn't deny that, and was doing a bang-up—she didn't say “bang-up,” even in her head, it just sounded sexually patriarchal—with his Feminism 101 classes. He was an amazing professor, spot-on with his lectures. In fact, Lady Bird couldn't deny that Kelly was seemingly responsible for bringing Betsy Williams into the twenty-first century finally, making it a more modern, more progressive all-girls school. With such happy, excited, and pretty students ready to conquer the world in four years! Before Kelly, the typical enroller at Betsy Williams had been a bitter, angry, and lonely girl who was usually ugly, too. Lady Bird chastised herself for thinking such terrible thoughts. Lady Bird wondered if Kelly was single. She hadn't had a date in a decade.
“Let's see...the date is...May 3, 2010...I am, of course, the Dean of Betsy Williams College...Lady Bird Graham and this is a...uh, hearing...to examine several claims of sexual impropriety by professor Kelly Meyers...”
After the hearing, after Kelly had been found guilty of breaking rules 10.11a and 10.11b in the faculty handbook, after he had been summarily fired from Betsy Williams and surely had his collegiate teaching career come to an unceremonious end, Lady Bird Johnson chased him down and caught up with him in the parking lot, wanting to speak with him some more.
She hadn't been in Laissez Faire since she was a twentysomething associate dean, but it seemed like the right place for the two of them to talk. She told Kelly that he had been a brilliant professor, a great professor at Betsy Williams, and she was so sorry that, by the book, she had to let him go.
Kelly explained that he loved the job, truly loved the job. It was the first time he had ever felt like he was doing good in the world and he, too, was sorry he had to be let go. But he understood. He had broken the rules. Many times over, in fact.
Lady Bird was mad these silly little students had tempted him. She knew he was a man, it was hard for men to turn down such temptation. She almost didn't blame Kelly. She almost blamed the students for forcing out such a great professor, a great professor they loved just a little too much.
She slid her barstool closer to Kelly, her knees touching his.
“It's just so fucked up, Kelly. It's just so fucked up beyond recognition.”
© 2010 Goldfarb
You'll love the rest of the collection too, all stories about the sexes, sex, and sexiness in New York, which features these ten other tales:
"The References" -- The final few lines of one's resume are usually devoted to references that can tell a would-be employer you're the right person for the job. One's life references are a little different, but even more important.
"The Ambiguous Woman" -- A man struggles to figure out exactly what a woman is thinking while on a date with her.
"The Boyfriend Trials" -- A fed-up thirty-year-old woman has a most interesting methodology in searching for the perfect partner.
"Health" -- Arthur Lampkin is the sex-ed teacher at a Staten Island high school whose life is a living hell of comical sex-ed tools, oversexed teenagers, and an undersexed home life.
"Comedic Romance" -- Love in real life never happens like it does in Hollywood rom-coms.
"He Proposed" -- The day a woman gets proposed to is the most exciting day of her life. And, she can't wait to tell you all about it.
"Born. Again" -- What happens when a sexually promiscuous New York atheist spends a weekend with a chaste Midwestern Christian?
"Gross Humans" -- If you knew what most couples did behind closed doors, you'd be repulsed.
"Ain't Nothing Like a New York Romance" -- There can't possibly be a better place to fall in love than New York City. Can there?
"The Cheat Sheet" - [plot redacted]
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