Revenge on a College Essay: Don’t Make Stephanie Angry!

I promise I will return to discussing Dumb Doras soon!  In the meantime, while I am going completely insane with the numerous preparations involved in moving back to Asia, here’s a short true story about how writing can make a very therapeutic revenge:

When I was a freshman in college, I had to sign up for a writing and composition class (my first college did not offer CLEP).  I was initially looking forward to it:  I have always loved to write, and my major at the time was actually in English (I had not yet seen the light and changed to a history major).  My enthusiasm quickly dampened upon meeting my instructor.  There’s really no nice way to describe her; the woman looked like a demonic hamster.  And her personality was very similar to that of Delores Umbridge from the Harry Potter novels (saccharine voice that practically rots teeth, with an undercurrent of pure evil in her personality, just waiting to catch people off their guard).  Normally, I have high respect for teachers and go out of my way to please them.  This woman was an exception.

It would take hours to detail all of the reasons that I came to think of her as Professor Evil-Hamster, but suffice to say, within a week, I knew I no longer liked her.

Eli the E-coli

Stephanie as an undergrad, with good friend Eli the E-coli. He has absolutely nothing to do with this story, but wished to be included anyway.

In one of our early assignments for the class, we had to write a description of a place, with absolutely no action taking place.  Seeking to please my new English professor (I knew not of her true nature at this point), I wrote a happy, cheery little essay depicting a Michigan farm on a summer day.  I drew from childhood memories to create the scene, and just to be extra creative, I told it from the point of view of one of the barnyard cats.  I turned in the essay and eagerly awaited the happy little A that I was certain would soon beam down on me from the top of the page.

Imagine my dismay, shock, and outrage when I was informed that I had to redo the entire essay because it did not meet the requirements.  According to Professor Evil-Hamster, my essay had action in it.  You know what the action was?  The cat’s hair bristled at the sound of a tractor.  Hair bristling is apparently an action.  I politely pointed out that it is an involuntary action, but this made no difference.  The essay must be rewritten.

Professor Evil-Hamster also complained about my rough draft (this was one of those professors who requires a rough draft and a final copy to be turned in).  There was not enough difference between it and the final draft to please her.  I pointed out that there was only one mistake there to correct.  She said that meant that it clearly was not a rough draft.  I informed her that I have good grammar and spelling skills.  She said that she had to see a rougher rough draft.  That part of the essay would have to be rewritten as well.

We shared our essays with one another in class.  After looking over ten of my fellow students’ work, I became truly incensed.  Spelling mistakes galore, unimaginative writing, comma splices, misplaced modifiers, shifting tenses, wrong pronouns . . . all on the FINAL copies!!  My rough draft was too well written and my cat’s hair bristled involuntarily.  I had to rewrite my essay.

I became irritated enough that I decided to do something I would ordinarily never do:  get revenge on a teacher.  I rewrote the essay, just like she demanded.  Gone was the farm with the sunlight beaming on the cornstalks.  Gone was the cute black barnyard cat.  In their place, I created a more vivid scene:  a battlefield a day after the fighting on it had ceased.  Dead bodies festering in the blistering sun, maggots, congealed blood, spilled intestines . . . ah, ’twas a gruesome little scene.  Then I rewrote my new scene, inserting ten deliberate mistakes.  Now my final copy and my rough draft were done.

I handed in the paper in the beginning of the next class.  Professor Evil-Hamster handed it back the following week:  A.  She did, however, challenge the meaning of one of the words I used.  I showed her the definition in the overpriced dictionary I was required to purchase for the class.  She conceded defeat.

The moral of this story:  Even superfluous gore has its place.  And obedience is sometimes the best revenge.

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About HistoryGypsy

I'm a high school history teacher and author of upcoming novel Sidhe Eyes. I live in gorgeous Qingdao, China, where I spend much of my free time studying the fascinating and frustrating Chinese language, eating odd things, or taking long walks along the Yellow Sea. At "While We're Paused" I have the pleasure of blogging about things that catch my interest: good books, language, history, poetry, writing tips, grammar rants, random humor . . . I don't like to get in a rut! Some of my favorite writers include (and this is by no means an exhaustive list): Dorothy Sayers, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Jules Verne, Baroness Orczy, Geoffrey Wawro, John Lynn, Bill Bryson, the Bronte sisters, John Christopher, J.M. Barrie, O. Henry, Roald Dahl, and Robert Graves. I usually find myself reading no less than three books at a time!

Posted on June 19, 2011, in Stephanie Thompson, Story, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Considering Professor Evil-Hamster’s twisted personality, your rewrite, justifying her existence, as it were, could be interpreted as an act of charity. I hope that thought does not ruin your day.

  2. Nice, Stephanie. Just one small problem, that Prof Evil-Hamster evidently didn’t catch: There was action in your rewritten scene. Action only by Prof Evil-Hamster standards, but action nonetheless. The dead bodies were festering.

    • Hmm, wonder how Professor Evil-Hamster missed that one? Perhaps she was too nauseated to notice? Or, considering her nature, perhaps she was too full of joy to notice.

      I would like to go on record saying that not all English profs are evil. I loved the prof I had my sophomore year for American Literature. For her, I wrote only of happy things.

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