Today was a good day.
Or, more accurately (and surprisingly), it wasn’t a bad day. I wasn’t feeling particularly well, so I thought maybe I’d skip my screenwriting class. After a night that mainly involved me not being able to fall asleep until I figured out my game plan from here until graduation (which is likely to happen sometime before 2017), I assumed that screenwriting would be rotten. I was certainly well enough to go; I just didn’t want to. But I did, and I guess I’m glad I did.
I got off the train, got all coffeed up, and then I decided maybe I would skip class after all. I’d drop my homework in his box and skedaddle before he ever knew I was there. Naturally, as I walked up the pleasant and noisy stretch of Wabash Avenue between Dunkin’ Donuts and the film building, my screenwriting professor emerged from the building, almost as if he had been standing there, waiting for me.
He walked toward me, and I expected an exchange of pleasantries followed by me disappearing. Instead, he rushed toward me looking like he had something to say. I assumed, then, that he was going to bitch at me, half-jokingly, for (1) leaving early last week and then (2) forgetting to e-mail him for the assignment until Wednesday night. He didn’t do that, either. Instead, he shook my hand and said, “Congratulations.”
I accepted this graciously by replying, “Uh…”
Sometimes, weird things happen to me that make little to no sense. I assumed this sudden and seemingly inappropriate congratulations had something to do with one of those things. Perhaps word was traveling around that, somehow, some of the stuff I’ve been writing leaked out and I was being hailed as an underrated genius by the higher-ups, who were also planning on presenting me with an honorary doctorate and a harem of 30 16-year-old virgins, and I’d no longer have to attend classes.
Or maybe my five-minute Production I film was making the rounds, and the poor match cuts, bad lighting, and high-iris-induced granularity (as a result of using a bad stock for outdoor shooting) had taken the entire college by storm. My distinctive style of rushed incompetence was now being imitated by all of the best and brightest students, and critical analysis students were writing their theses on what can only be called “Batesteurism.”
If that were the case, I decided to think of the ways I could exploit my newfound popularity and success to acquire a harem of 30 16-year-old virgins.
Of course, my rich and generally perverse fantasy life had little to do with the actual reality of the situation, as my screenwriting professor explained.
He said, “You wrote one of the best second drafts I have ever fucking read.”
“Oh,” I said glumly. My dreams of an enormous, penis-shaped bed (complete with full-length ceiling mirror) filled with squirming, nubile women were dashed, but I appreciated the compliment. “Thanks.”
The professor continued, as he attempted in vain to light a cigarette, “I’d like a copy of it.”
“I already gave you a copy,” I said dumbly.
His face screwed up; suddenly, he was as confused as I generally am. Then, he figured it out. “Oh, no,” he said. “I meant a fresh copy, for me to keep. One that doesn’t have my notes written all over it.”
“Oh, right,” I said, and he could tell from my tone that I had absolutely no idea why the hell he wanted a permanent copy. I think he thought that I thought he wanted to steal my idea or something, because he explained himself promptly. Mainly, though, I just thought the script kinda sucked and wondered why he wanted it so badly.
He told me that, eventually (and this seemed far-fetched), he wanted to compile a book of short screenplays from students that would be published, like the Fiction Writing department’s annual book of shitty short stories and poems. Failing that, though, it would always be nice to have spare scripts lying around to use as teaching supplements.
My thoughts on this could be summed up as follows: “Hmm.” Instead of expressing that complex assessment and analysis of the situation verbally, I just said, “I’ll bring you a copy next week.”
“Any time before the end of the semester would be fine,” he said and grinned inhumanly. I sipped my coffee and he blew smoke in my face. Then he introduced me to some other grad student/faculty member he knew. Apparently, my script was good enough for me to be privy to formal introductions to the elite inner circle of decade-long film students.
I guess that makes sense, considering I’m on the track to becoming one of them.
Okay, I’m kidding. Assuming everything goes exactly the way I have planned it on paper*, I should be able to graduate next summer. Or possibly the following fall. If bad comes to worse, however, I probably won’t graduate until the spring of 2005. And if worse comes to worst, I will never get a degree and end up living in the cardboard box of failure.
*It won’t. [Back]