The adventures of a New Jersey college professor with very strange friends, colleagues, and family members.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My Most Frightening Student Ever

When I got out of graduate school, I took a job at a local, low-key community college where I was assigned to teach English 101, which was a composition course. I was deleriously happy to finally be doing what I had spent seven years in college training to do, and I attacked my job like a Pit Bull.

One of my students was named Jason, and I'm not entirely convinced that his last name wasn't Voorhees.

Jason was older than anyone else in the class--about 25. He wore black jeans, black t-shirts, and a black leather jacket. The jacket had bits of metal attached to it, and upon closer examination they proved to be razor blades. He also wore a lot of eyeliner--not cute, fun eyeliner like Michael Stipe, but weird, scary eyeliner like Alice Cooper circa 1975.

Jason sat in the back of the room and never talked. His eyes fixed on me with a thousand-yard stare that kind of reminded me of Charles Manson.

For their first essay, the students were required to write about something that they enjoyed watching, like sports, or the ocean, or people passing by. Everyone enjoyed the assignment, except for Jason; he wrote about blood.

The entire essay (three pages) was about how much he liked seeing blood, playing with blood, tasting blood, and making other people bleed (presumably with the razor blades he always had on him). I was pretty shocked by this, but since he wasn't out-and-out threatening anyone, there was nothing I could do with him. I gave him a "C" and pressed on.

Around the middle of the semester, the school nurse came to my class to do a presentation about A.I.D.S. She had to do this to every English class to make sure that all the students at the college heard it. After sitting through this presentation seven times, I now know more about A.I.D.S. than the Surgeon General of the United States.

To make sure my students paid attention to the nurse, I told them there would be an assignment afterwards--to write a reaction paper to the presentation. They grumbled, but they sat there like good Do-Bees and took notes. Except, of course, for Jason.

When the essays rolled in, they were pretty predictable; the students wrote about what they had learned, promised to have safe sex, that sort of thing. Then I got to Jason's paper.

First of all, he had titled it: "A.I.D.S. -- Anally Injected Death Serum." I knew right away we were going to have a problem.

The essay wasn't about the presentation at all. Instead, for three pages, Jason described in mind-numbing detail the things he would do to a woman if she infected him with A.I.D.S. One of the more minor punishments included encasing the woman in cement, knocking out all of her teeth with a hammer, and orally raping her.

Yeah. That kind of thing. For three pages. It was more creative than anything Dr. Mengele could have thought up.

Not knowing what to do, I showed the paper to my Department Chair, who went completely white and immediately summoned the school counselor. The counselor advised me to go back to my class and pretend nothing had happened.

In the middle of the lecture (Jason was gazing at me vacantly again), the door opened and the counselor (a very dapper man in a tweed sportscoat) came in and asked to see Jason. Confused, Jason went out into the hall with him. About ten minutes later, he came back in. He walked right up to my desk, looked me in the eye, and muttered: "I'm going to get you."

Fortunately, there was a kid in the front row who was a football player who had overheard this remark, and he walked me to my car after class.

The following morning, at 6:00 when it was still dark outside, the phone rang. It was Jason. I have no idea how he got my home number. I also had terrifying visions of cops telling me; "the call is coming from inside the house."

Jason wanted to tell me, apparently, that he had been up all night thinking about what I had done to him. He couldn't understand why I was so concerned about his paper and his attitude toward A.I.D.S. Then he got really weird and started describing Middle Eastern torture methods to me with glee. Completely freaked, I hung up and hid under the covers.

The following day in class, Jason didn't show up. The rest of the students were as relieved as I was. He never showed up again. He disappeared.

Even though that was over ten years ago, I know he's still out there somewhere, terrorizing people and watching blood. So if you see a scary guy with razor blades on his jacket, run. Run like hell.

Next time: My prom date!