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

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Crazy Nina

(For those of you following the saga, my home computer is still not functioning. Still, I felt that I owed you all a new blog entry.)

I should have known that I was going to have a problem with Crazy Nina when she showed up on the first day of class in a tube top, stiletto heels, and clutching a six-pack of Red Bull. Since it was an 8:00am class, I kind of understood the Red Bull, but she looked horribly uncomfortable in her clothes. She was wearing makeup that looked like it had been applied the night before and slept in—the eyeliner half-moons under her eyes made her look like a morphine addict.

Crazy Nina’s past academic history is kind of sketchy. She purports to have only gone to high school “for two months,” after which she (apparently) dropped out until she decided she wanted to attend college. Somehow she got a GED and got accepted here at Very Serious University (who will accept anyone whose knuckles don’t drag on the ground when they walk).

At the beginning of every class, we have freewriting. Freewriting is pretty much what it sounds like—you write for ten minutes about anything you want to. Afterwards, if you want to, you can read your freewriting aloud and the class discusses it.

Crazy Nina writes every freewriting about George W. Bush and the things she’d like to do to him. These involve torture, execution, and public humiliation (always with lots of obscenities). I am astounded that Homeland Security or the Secret Service haven’t yet swarmed into the classroom to take Crazy Nina to a maximum security prison.

Crazy Nina also manages to work Bush into every essay she writes for class, no matter how far the stretch. In her essay on King Lear, Crazy Nina insisted that King Lear was really supposed to be Bush. I couldn’t seem to explain to her that Shakespeare, not being Doctor Who, couldn’t have any knowledge of Bush and his actions. Her paper on Bleak House was equally bizarre, in which she argued that the character of Mr. Krook (a lawyer) was really a simulacrum of Bush. She was especially fond of the scene in which Krook/Bush spontaneously combusts.

Three weeks ago, Crazy Nina approached me and told me that she was going to Georgia for a few days and would have to miss class. I made the mistake of asking her what she was planning to do in Georgia, and she explained to me that she was going to meet an “online friend” in person for the first time. This “friend” was allegedly named Dee Dee and was 39 years old. Crazy Nina is 17 and refers to Dee Dee as her “best friend.” They’ve known each other in cyberspace for only two months.

That should have set off a warning signal, but no.

A week passed and I got an e-mail from Crazy Nina, telling me that she was having such a good time in Georgia with Dee Dee that she decided to stay an extra few days. She then asked me if I could e-mail her the lecture that she had missed. Kind of miffed, I wrote back and said that if I were able to do that, nobody would have to come to class and I could just stay home in my bathrobe e-mailing the lecture to everyone.

Another week passed and there was no sign of Crazy Nina. Everyone began to become concerned.

The following evening, I got a phone call from Crazy Nina. I could hear the sound of traffic in the background.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “I think I’m somewhere in Virginia.”

“What happened?”

She then told me a long confusing story about how she and Dee Dee had gotten into a terrible fight, causing Dee Dee to rip Crazy Nina’s windshield wipers off her car. She also threw her out of the house. The problem with all of this was that Dee Dee was supposed to give her money for gas for the way home and now that they’d had a fight, she wouldn’t.

“How much money do you have?” I asked, concerned.

“Five dollars,” said Crazy Nina.

“You’re never going to make it to New Jersey on five dollars,” I said.

“Oh, my car is very good on gas,” she said.

Of course, I knew that wouldn’t happen and she’d be stranded. She then told me that she was stopping at every truck stop on the highway in order to beg people for money for food and gas. I told her that this was highly dangerous, and she didn’t care.

“Can’t you call your parents?” I asked.

“That’s not really an option,” she said.

She explained that she lived with her father, but because she knew he would never allow her to drive all the way to Georgia to visit a complete stranger, she had lied to him and told him that she was visiting her aunt—his own sister. When Crazy Nina didn’t come home on the day she had told her father she was coming home, he got concerned and called his sister. The sister, of course, had no idea where Crazy Nina was and then they both got really scared.

Her father then began calling Crazy Nina’s cell phone. Crazy Nina saw that it was her father calling, didn’t want to deal with the inevitable questions, and let all the calls go to voice mail. Now horribly worried, her father called both the police and the F.B.I.

This really alarmed Crazy Nina, not because she was now a fugitive (more or less) but because she doesn’t have a driver’s license. I tried to convince her to call her father anyway, to at least ease the man’s mind, but she wouldn’t hear of it. At this point, a truck cut her off, she cursed loudly, and we got disconnected.

All I could think of was the F.B.I. finding Crazy Nina’s body on the side of the interstate, hacked into pieces. They would examine her cell phone and see that the last call she had made had been to me, and I would suddenly become deeply involved in federal crime.

Several more days went by with no sign of Crazy Nina. By this time she had missed four classes.

Three nights ago at around 12:30am, I was sound asleep and was vaguely aware of the telephone ringing. A few moments later, BeowulfDad staggered into my room, angrily telling me that a student was on the phone for me.

“Hello?” I asked, bleerily.

“Hi! It’s Nina!” I could hear wind blowing and cars in the distance.

“Um…it’s 12:30,” I babbled.

“Yeah, well, I need a favor.”

I couldn’t believe this. “What?”

“I’m in Maryland and I’m completely out of money. I can’t get the truckers to give me any. Can you send me some?”

I blinked in confusion. “What?”

“Can you send me some money?”

“Absolutely not,” I said. “Why don’t you just call your father?”

“He’d be mad,” she said.

I’m mad!” I said, and hung up.

Two days later, I had an important visitor to class. I was due to be evaluated (it happens every two years) and I had to be in top form. Things were going fine until about fifteen minutes into class when the door literally banged open and Crazy Nina came striding in, wielding her essay, which had been due the previous week when she was doing her Jack Kerouac impersonation.

She marched right up to me, oblivious, and said: “Here’s my f*****g essay.”

The class gasped. The observer began writing furiously.

“Nina, sit down,” I said, through clenched teeth.

We then started the exercise, which was something I like to call “Fantasy Mail.” Basically, you write a letter to someone or some thing that you really wish you could send, but can’t. People usually get very creative. Most guys write to their cars or their favorite athletes. Most girls write to their hair, clothes, or boyfriends.

Crazy Nina wrote to her mother, from whom she is estranged. It started off mildly, but as she read aloud it became more and more bizarre and filled with expletives. It got to the point where, literally, every other word was some cognate of the f-word. Along with other things that I didn’t need to know, I found out that Crazy Nina’s mother had put Crazy Nina into rehab when she was just fourteen. I have no idea why.

I wrapped up the class, pretty certain I was going to be fired.

Last night, the observer called me at home for my conference. I was stunned to find out that she had actually loved the class and felt I related well to my students. I apologized profusely for Crazy Nina, and she said not to worry about it and that she had had her share of insane students as well.

I have nine more weeks to deal with Crazy Nina. I have the feeling I’m going to wind up in rehab as well.


  • At 5:56 PM, Blogger Starla said…

    Scary! Could you not call her dad when she had disappeared?

    I hope you make it through the semester... :)

  • At 12:09 PM, Blogger Grape said…

    "Here’s my f*****g essay"

    That's very modern. When I was at school, we used to have to write essays about 'What I did in my summer holidays'.


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