David Bruce’s Stand-Up (More or Less)
I have been single all my life so far, and I expect to be single for the rest of my life. I like being alone. I know men who go hunting not because they like to hunt, but because it is the only time all year they can be alone for more than a few minutes. I am the type of person who likes to be alone for most of each day. I can visit family on vacation and be around people for most of a few days, but then I need to get back home so I can be alone.
Quite simply, I am the type of man who finds the life led by Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good as It Gets to be quite attractive, except for the misogyny, and the racism, and the cowardice, and the obsessive-compulsive disorder, and probably a few other things. Still, he makes a good living by writing novels and he spends much of each day alone. Then he had to go and ruin it all by falling in love. (It’s hard to believe that I have a sister — Brenda Kennedy — who writes romance books.)
To any women who write complaining posts on Reddit’s Forever Alone thread, I apologize. I also give you permission to say that you and I used to be engaged to be married, but we called off the wedding due to a matter of life and death — we would have killed each other. You might be able to use this story to answer prying questions about why you haven’t married or remarried yet. Add all the gruesome details you want. Be sure to blame me.
But I do have children, just not biological children. As a teacher at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, which is commonly confused with Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, I taught 60 or more adult children — usually from age 18 to 22 (Yay! No poopy diapers!) — each quarter, back when Ohio University was on the quarter system.
Most of my students were angels, but some were not. Unfortunately, I found plagiarism in student papers and in some cases I sent the student to University Judiciaries, where the most common punishment dealt to guilty students was being put on Academic Probation. Even more unfortunately, I am positive that I did not discover all the plagiarism that occurred. Most students, of course, worked hard and did not plagiarize.
Here’s an example of academic dishonesty that was not committed by one of my students, but that one of my students told me about. My student and her acquaintance were taking a class in computer programming, but both were having a hard time learning the subject. When the final computer-programming project was due, neither had been able to complete it, but another student gave copies of his work to everyone who wanted it. My student was honest and did not pass off work as her own that she had not done. Her acquaintance, however, accepted a copy of the other student’s work and handed it in as her own work. Result: My student failed with an F, and her acquaintance passed with an A. My student retook the class, learned how to program, put the class on her resume, and got a job as a computer programmer. Her acquaintance did not retake the class, did not learn how to program, put the class on her resume, and got a job as a computer programmer. My student was a good programmer and kept her job, while her acquaintance was not a good programmer and got fired. My student then made a Xerox copy of her paycheck and mailed it to her acquaintance with this note: “Ha! Ha!”
Among any group of people, of course, most members of the group will be angels and a few will be devils. Usually, one student will be high-maintenance and ask for special privileges such as handing in papers late without penalty or missing many classes without penalty. Let’s face it, not everyone is competent. Some people can’t work well on their own, or with others, and their supervisors sometimes feel such people can’t walk unless the supervisor tells them which foot to use to take the first step.
Here’s an example of one of the students who failed one of my classes. The student missed my class one day, and so he sent me an email giving an explanation of why he missed my class: His alarm clock didn’t go off. Hmm, the class met at noon!
Of course, sometimes students have better excuses for missing class. One student met with me before class started and asked to be excused because she fell nauseous after another class during which her professor had dissected a human leg. I excused her, but I also said that in a future year the leg being dissected might be mine because I have donated my body to the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
One student wrote this memorable evaluation at the end of one quarter: “If I ever have just one hour left to live, I hope that I spend it in David Bruce’s class.” Of course, I felt pretty good reading this, but then I read the next sentence: “One hour in David Bruce’s class lasts forever.”
Some of my students had email addresses other than their email address at Ohio University. Once in a while, a student would have as their email address drunkguy111@hotmailcom or firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s hope that they don’t use these email addresses on their resumes.
Of course, any student can make mistakes. A student once sent me an email that began, “Hell, Bruce.” No, he wasn’t angry at me; he simply didn’t proofread. He had meant to write, “Hello, Bruce.”
Also, of course, you don’t have to be a student to make a mistake. Channel 4 (Columbus, Ohio) News once gave a quiz to help determine if you are a hypochondriac. After giving the quiz, the news co-anchor, Colleen Marshall, said, “If you think you are a hypochondriac, you should see a doctor.”
By the way, Columbus, Ohio, radio deejay Bob Simpson once asked listeners for silly pet names. One caller had a friend who had named his cat “Stir Fry.” Why? “It’s a threat.”
Back when I was a student at Ohio University, my roommate and his best friend wanted to go on Spring Break in Florida, but they had hardly any money, and certainly not enough money for food. They ended up stealing apples and brownies from the cafeteria. (Students were not allowed to take cafeteria food back to the dorms.) Of course, the brownies grew hard and stale, and they grew tired of eating apples, so they stole food from stores. They would go in a store, unwrap an ice cream sandwich, shove half of it in their mouth when no one was looking and then shove the other half in their mouth when no one was looking. God, of course, was looking, and God punished them with incredibly painful brain-freeze.
By the way, one of the students in my dorm had no morning classes, and so he slept late. However, his student meal card included breakfast, and so he would set his alarm, go to the cafeteria in his pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers, eat breakfast, and then go back to his room and sleep.
Also by the way, Ohio University frequently hosts such special occasions as Moms Weekend, during which students’ mothers come to visit them. I once got a big laugh at the beginning of a class by saying after one Moms Weekend, “I must be getting old. Some of these OU moms look hot!”
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