Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: Class Portrait

For this week’s writing exercise, I decided to do an overview of Zuleika’s physics class, or at least the occupants thereof.

The people in class seemed about usual, as college science classes went. Over there was the person who wore her love of numeric and technological abstractions on her tees, jokes about 10 kinds of people being those who understand binary and those who don’t, about 2 + 2 equaling 5 for particularly large values of 2; another a girl whose dangling sleeves and routine excess of beadwork made me wonder the first day if she wasn’t a drama major who’d taken a wrong turn. Here, near the front, was one whose lack of any paraphernalia or carrying materials beyond a notebook in hand and graphing calculator in pocket implied no classes directly before or directly after. There was one who seemed to have lucked into two classes in the row in the same classroom, and was always in one of the far right seats, playing calculator games when the rest of the class filed in, and another who two days a week would come in just short of late with a bag containing softer shoes tied by the handles to his backpack, and still another who would eat bagels with one hand while taking notes with the other. I was between two doodlers; one whose notebook sported fashion designs on alternating pages, and one whose margins were filled with vague bubble figures engaging in a combination of standard behaviors, mood swings and improbable athletics, and behind a person whose copious notes on the subject were matched only by the impossible tiny notes on—I would assume something else, but never looked more closely than a peripheral view of the cloud of miniscule letters. You could tell from the books who was in which year—the eager freshmen in the department like me, the occasional English major looking for a challenge (or who just hadn’t quite realized the difference between Physics for Science Majors and Physics for Humanities People), the odd bio major, usually a sophomore or a junior (Sleeves-girl seemed to be one of them), who’d decided that of physics and geology and whatever else they could take as their required somewhat out of discipline extra basic science class, this was the best choice. And then you had the professor, one of those rare women who not only choose to wear suits and neckties, but to keep the clothing somber and the necktie as loud and improbable as possible. She rather reminded me of a gender-flipped version of the doctor my family would take me to when I was a child, only with a penchant for handing out weights and popsicle sticks instead of garish stickers.

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