[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

What if I’d been less timid in days gone by? Such as when teaching Freshman English at USC.  Aged twenty-two, I would sit cross-legged on the front desk in pencil skirt and white linen blouse, imparting my view of life to a group of sorority and fraternity pledges, a few Korean War vets, and several members of the Freshman football team who sat slouched against the back wall, exchanging sotto voce opinions about my ankles and other anatomical parts.

The weekly writing assignments generally resulted in compositions mediocre to bad. (I was not an easy grader.) However, one stood out. The writer had a strong sense of what was wrong with the world and no hesitation about putting it on paper. Despite his technical mistakes, I gave him an A minus and a “See me.”

He was eighteen, and not frat material. Not a jock either. Strongly built, tall and suspicious, he was racking up D’s and F’s in all his other courses. They were basically crap, he said. He’d pretty much stopped going. How come the A minus? I told him how come. I encouraged him. He wrote more. He never missed a class. He hung around afterwards, wanting to talk. Intrigued, I listened.

His father had thrown him out a year before, for unacceptable behaviors he didn’t itemize. He was living on his own and paying for college by running drugs into California from Mexico on a boat belonging to his uncle. (Whether the uncle knew was not made clear.) He’d had girls, but never a keeper. Soon he was wishing for someone like me.

I had a steady boyfriend. Tony was my student, and four years younger. But I’d never before met a strong, angry drug runner  who wanted someone like me. I let him buy me a beer.

We had the beer at an out-of-the-way bar where no one would see. Then his eyes asked the question. I chickened out. The next semester, he left school. He’d knocked up a girl and was marrying her. He said It was the right thing to do.

All the same, I sometimes wonder. Suppose I’d gone down the road less traveled. Would my life have been different? Would his?

8 thoughts on “WRITING SHORT: 32/50

  1. Rita Stewart

    Nina, you pose the ultimate dilemma–“WHAT IF?…” thinking about the roads less traveled is an exercise we all indulge in.
    Even thinking about how we met—that was a road less traveled for me, and we are still friends, from that chance meeting. Its fascinating to speculate isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rita, you’ve flipped the “what if.” My “what if” was a “what if I had….” Yours is a “what if I had not….” If you had not signed up for a last minute tour of Northern Spain (tours being your road less traveled), they wouldn’t have paired me with you in that small hot double room in a one-star Salamanca hotel (Spain doesn’t have no-star hotels), and we wouldn’t have sat up till two in the morning laughing together about I can’t remember what, except sex talk played a big part, till we both peed in our pants, and sometimes the sheets. See what serendipity you would have missed out on, “if you had not….!” On the other hand, we’ll never know what I never experienced with my “What if….?” I did just take a crack at imagining. (See my response to VanbytheRiver.) But I could be wrong, as I have been so many times before! 🙂


    • Actually, they might not have been so different if there had been only one or two dockings (to borrow a metaphor from his boating excursions). The longevity of the connection is now something we’ll never know. But if it had lasted a while, his life would probably have been better, in the conventional sense, in that I would have pushed for his getting a degree, which would have helped his CV, if nothing else. As for my life, and assuming there would have been no marriage — at a minimum, going down the road less traveled would have ensured that the then-steady boyfriend would not have gone on to become my first husband, which would have been a blessing right there. It might also have exposed me to new experiences (hopefully not jail) which might have broadened my very straight-and-narrow outlook on how to lead my life. Best answer to your question I can give. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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