Euston College was first founded in the early 1800s by Elijah Euston, primarily to educate his six sons and seven daughters.
Why he felt the need to educate them at a college this isolated and inbred isn't readily available.
As a novelist with one moderately successful book under my belt, I arrived at this well-paying but lower-tier institution with wife and child in tow, the promise of health insurance beckoning.
A short term gig, I thought, fully expecting my second novel to offer me a reprieve and save me from obscurity.
That was a decade ago.
I had been touted as an author to watch.
Little did I realize that that christening would turn into my eulogy.
Okay, so what did everybody think?
What did anybody think?
Look at them. They're shell-shocked.
They look like cartoon characters hearing birdies tweet.
What engaged you?
Maybe it's a conspiracy.
Three stories about sex with animals, and the term has just begun.
Meg, why don't you jump in? I thought it was disgusting.
Positives first, please.
You can always find something nice to say.
Unless you're a critic. Or my first editor.
His spelling wasn't offensive.
Up yours. He wanted something positive.
That was the only positive thing I had to say.
Then again, maybe I should be grateful for any student work with a shred of vitality and life, even if it is about bestiality.
That's more than I seem to have at the moment.
Is something wrong, Professor Swenson?
Why do you ask?
You groaned. Twice.
Can you blame him?
That part where Danny did what he did to that chicken was just really, really gross.
I agree with Meg.
I thought the scene in the kitchen came out of nowhere.
Seemed totally bogus.
Okay, so then what would we do to make it not seem "totally bogus," as Carlos says?
Always quote the students, if possible.
Makes them feel like they're being taken seriously.
I'd change the boy's character so that we know he's the kind of person who'd do something like that.
He should be really pissed at the waitress, so when he goes home...
And here we go.
The quote-unquote "suggestions" that make a bad story worse.
When I first started teaching I'd settle for nothing less than the whole class falling in love with me.
Now I just want to get through the hour without major psychic damage.
Okay, all right. Okay, so then, does everyone agree with these suggestions?
I think they kinda suck.
All right, Angela.
Will you tell us why you think they "kinda suck"?
I guess I just kind of liked the way that it ended, that it was so weird and unexpected.
I mean, that's, like, the whole point, isn't it, that anyone can do something like that?
This guy is getting home from a really shitty date.
He goes home, opens the fridge, sees the chicken and does it.
Guys are always surprising themselves doing crazy shit like that, even if they think they're not the kind of guy who would do crazy shit like that.
Most guys would not bone a chicken.
Yeah. I know what most guys would do.
Okay, well, Angela does bring up a good point.
She has a point.
Uh, Ryan doesn't do what he does because he's a naturally violent person or because his girlfriend bought chicken and he hates chicken.
It's the rejection that has caused him to do "crazy shit," as Angela says. Right?
Now, we've all been there.
Which is why we can see that he is like us.
Okay. To be continued next week.
Very good. Who's on the hot seat next week?
Wh-Who is it?
Angela. Okay, great.
So, this will be your first time, right? Actually...
So we promise to go easy on you.
No? Actually, I'm not finished yet.
I, um, was hoping I could come talk to you during your office hours tomorrow.
Yeah. Just remind me when I have office hours.
Really? I have morning office hours?
I'm more devoted than I thought I was.
Then I will see you tomorrow morning in my office during my office hours.
Thank you. Thank you, Professor.
All right, good luck. Class dismissed. Get out.
Um, thanks. I'll see you tomorrow.
Nurse, I need some help. Shit!
Sorry. I'm sorry. You scared me.
I'm sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Oh, my God.
Come here. What are you doing?
Have a little quickie? You can't do that.
Why not? Because I'm at work.
So what? We'll say it's therapeutic. Stop. No.
There's a patient right next door who's been vomiting nonstop since this morning.
Oh, great. My erection is gone. Our jobs are safe.
He's the fifth kid I've seen today.
Must be something going around.
Well, let's go back home and get under the covers where there are no germs.
We can't. We've got that meeting. Remember?
Shit. Which we're already late for. Let me tell Arlene I'm leaving.
Later though. A thorough checkup. I promise.
I have here a copy of the Euston College policy on sexual harassment.
Every September one receives this in one's mailbox, along with changes to the health plan and cafeteria hours.
And every September one immediately tosses it all into the trash.
I know I do, and it's my unfortunate duty to write them.
Such an asshole.
But I thought we might all... Shh. spend a moment or two going over it together.
I had a dream about Ruby last night.
We were driving, and I told her that I'm her father and that I loved her and that... that I only wanted what was best for her.
What did she say?
She told me that she forgave me, that she was actually relieved that I broke them up.
Wow. What a wonderful dream.
And then this huge semi truck came hurtling towards us.
She screamed and I slammed on the brakes.
And then I woke up. Oh, God. Maybe not such a wonderful dream.
Call her again.
No. I think she just deletes my messages without even listening to them.
Surprise her. Drive down and take her out for dinner.
I'm sure she could use a good meal.
But someplace within walking distance.
You don't want to take any chances.
Me you too.
I'm still up. What are you wearing?
It's Angela Argo. I'm sorry.
I know you only gave out your phone number for emergencies, but I think we were supposed to meet at 9:00.
Oh, shit... I-I mean, yes, of course.
I'll, uh... I'll be there in 15. Are you sure?
'Cause if you're busy writing or something...
No, no. The writing can wait.
Uh, I will see you in 15. Okay, bye.
Hi. Hi. I'm so sorry I'm late.
Oh, it's okay. Don't worry about it.
I was kinda liking it, actually.
You know, sitting here, hiding out.
When I was a kid, I'd sit and read under the porch when I was supposed to be at school.
You're a reader, huh? Yeah.
Come on in. I won't bite.
You're reading Jane Eyre? You liking it?
Oh, yeah. Yeah. I love it. It's cool.
I love that she's in this mad rage the whole time.
Then she finally gets to marry the blind guy who's just toasted his wife in the attic.
It's wild. Yeah.
The trouble is, I'm reading it for Professor Healy's class, Text Studies in Gender Warfare.
And it just kinda feels like everything that we read is the same thing. You know?
Like the male patriarchy sticking it to women.
And I understand that you can say that, but I also think that not everything is the same.
True. Please, have a seat.
Um, anyway, it is...
It's, like, my favorite book.
Good. Except for yours.
Phoenix Time is, like, my favorite book in the universe.
Oh. Well, I'm very flattered.
It saved my life, actually.
How do you mean?
Well, my therapist gave it to me after my father killed himself.
And I won't bore you with the details of the whole story or anything, but, um, it just really showed me that people can get through stuff like that.
I read it, like, a million times.
And also, it's just a really great book.
It's up there with Brontë and Stendhal.
Stendhal? The Red and the Black?
It's another favorite of mine.
I'm actually working on a postmodern retelling of that story.
It's my new novel.
Oh, my God. Yeah.
Can I ask you something? Sure.
Um, what happened in your novel...
Did... Did that really happen?
Well, I thought we had, um, discussed in class that we wouldn't ask writers questions like that.
This isn't class.
That is how my father died.
And my mother and I watched it on television.
He was protesting the Vietnam War.
It was a celebrity death for about 15 minutes.
I'm writing a novel too. Oh. Great.
Oh, God, not that I'm comparing it to yours or anything.
I shouldn't even call it that.
It's not a novel. It's just pages.
It's, um... It's like chapters in search of a novel.
That's good. Well put.
And what's it called, your novel?
Eggs. It's very evocative.
And what is Eggs about?
Um, well, actually, I'd...
I'd like to just show it to you, if that's okay.
I brought, um, the first chapter here.
I thought I could give you the first chapter, you could read it, let me know what you think, and we could go chapter by chapter, or not.
It's about halfway done. I started last summer.
Why don't I read the first chapter, and then maybe we can put it up and take a look at it in next week's workshop.
Whatever. You decide. Okay.
I just can't believe Theodore Swenson's gonna read something I've written.
I should just take it back and start over and throw it away, probably.
I think... my writing sucks.
No. That's what every first-time writer thinks.
And, actually, quite a few second-time writers.
So just take a deep breath.
Just breathe. It's all right.
Right. Breathe. Okay, um, I will.
And also I know there are, like, four or five typos in there, and I was gonna fix them, but I didn't have time.
But I know that... Don't worry about it.
Just breathe. Yes. Yes. There you go.
And I'm really sorry before, when I called you, if I interrupted something, if you were writing or something.
Oh, no. Not at all. Not at all. Not at all. I'm sorry.
Sorry I was late. Oh, don't worry about it. Thank you so much.
I really appreciate you reading my b... Okay, bye.
The Black and the Black, inspired, of course, by Stendhal's The Red and the Black.
Only now the character of Julien Sorel was a young sculptor with a Black Panther dad and a social climbing mom, a guy who uses everyone he meets in his ferocious scramble up the art world ladder.
Race. Art. Ambition.
Hey, buddy, it's Len, your editor. Remember me?
So when am I gonna see something?
You were supposed to send me a draft three months ago. Call me!
Give my love to...
Every night after dinner, I went out and sat with the eggs.
This was after my mother and I washed the dishes and loaded the washer, after my father dozed off over his medical journals.
It was then that I slipped out the kitchen door and crossed the chilly backyard, dark and loamy with the yeasty smell of leaves just beginning to change, noisy with the rustle of them turning colors in the dark.
For a moment I looked back at the black frame of our house, the whole place jumping and vibrating with the dishwasher hum.
Then I entered the toolshed, lit only by the incubator bulbs, silent but for the whirring hearts inside the fertilized eggs.
This was my 11th-grade biology project.
Officially, that is.
But underneath those charts, those notebooks, the racks of fertilized eggs, my real project was black magic... casting spells for things I shouldn't have wanted, and longed for, and finally got.
Like Mr. Reynaud, my science teacher.
Hi. I read your chapter.
Oh, shit. You hated it.
I could tell by the way you were looking at me in class.
Not that you were looking at me, but I could feel it. You thought it sucked.
No. Actually, the opposite.
I think it's quite accomplished.
Really? Yeah, I do. Yeah.
You're not just saying that because you're afraid if you tell me what you really think, I'm gonna go kill myself in my dorm room?
No. No, that's not why I'm saying it.
I'm telling you the truth. I really, really, really enjoyed it.
Ted. Hi! Hey! How are you?
I'm good. Good. Good.
We're on a break. I left some papers in the office as usual.
You know Angela. I do know Angela.
It's nice to see you again. You too, Professor.
Um, we're just talking about Angela's novel.
Her novel? Yeah.
Wow. That's impressive. Yeah.
He's just being nice. No.
Okay. Well, please call me. Let's have lunch. Okay. I will, I will.
I found the typos.
I made corrections.
Just... keep writing.
Do you want to discuss it in class? Oh, God, no. No.
You have to be very careful to whom you show this now.
Don't listen to what anyone says. I mean it.
Not even me. Especially me.
Oh, my God, that makes me so... happy.
You're welcome. Good job.
Can I give you another couple of pages?
I understand if you, like, need a break or something, but...
And it's not like reading a real writer's work, anyway. I know that.
But if I... I-If you... I understand if you don't want to.
No, it would be my pleasure.
It just... It means the world.
Okay, bye. Bye.
"A little-known fact about eggs," Mr. Reynaud said.
"During the equinox and solstice you can actually balance one on its end."
I never tried to balance an egg during the equinox or the solstice.
I don't believe in astrology.
But I knew that my life was like that egg, and the point it balanced on were the few minutes I got to stay after class and talk to Mr. Reynaud.
Hi. I'm sorry I'm late.
Oh, hi. No, no, no. No problem.
Hi. Hi. I had to go to Montpelier.
They were holding this book for me. Oh.
Dog Poems. Yes.
Oh, this is one of my favorites.
One of my freshmen wrote a poem about his dog dying.
I thought if I could show them something literary about animals we'd have some place to start.
See what a good teacher you are.
I mean, what you do for your students.
They write reviews of us. Look what we all do.
Can I get a white wine, please? Thank you.
See, if it were my students, they would be having sex with the dead dogs.
Or at least writing about it. That's disgusting.
Yeah, but I can't say anything because I would be repressing their creative self expression.
So what do you say?
I take the technical route.
If you have a chicken in a suburban refrigerator... what's the texture like?
What's the temperature? What does it feel like?
Specificity? Specificity. Sure. Yeah.
Yeah. You make it seem so lascivious.
That is a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to be filed.
Yeah, tell me about it. Yeah, yeah.
So how's Angela Argo doing?
Do we know what we'd like? Yes.
I'll have the usual.
Char-grilled steak sandwich, mashed potatoes and a salad on the side.
Yes. And I will have the very same thing.
You got it. Thank you.
Why do you ask? Cheers.
Ask what? About Angela Argo.
I'm just curious how her novel's going.
Oh. Well, I have to say it's surprisingly good.
The stuff she wrote for me was awful.
And she wrote a... a... a collection of poetry for me that...
I may be a bit prudish, but I found it terribly obscene.
Dramatic monologues and dialogues about a phone sex worker, Angela 911.
So Euston is now admitting former phone sex workers?
I don't know.
But do you think that she was actually...
I don't know. I don't want to know.
Hi. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
It's very confusing, 'cause there was also multiple references to the phone sex worker's sexually abusive father.
One time we had a conference and she intimated they were true.
I wonder if that's the reason he killed himself.
He killed himself? Yeah.
She never mentioned that.
The end of spring semester, I get a call from Betty Hester at the library.
That's mean. I'm s... I... I didn't say "old."
In any event... All right. she called to say that Angela wanted to donate a volume of her poems to the Euston library as a gift.
Mm-hmm. So Betty reads some of these.
And she is totally freaked out.
So what did you say?
I told her, just catalog the goddamn things.
Nobody's ever gonna check it out except Angela.
"I'm the father of four daughters.
Three of them are sleeping. One is awake and waiting for me.
I keep thinking of her tiny breasts, my fingers between her legs."
Can I help you with something?
Oh, no, I'm good. Thank you. Thanks.
So good to see you, Ted. Likewise.
Yeah, it's been ages. Yeah.
Too busy writing to read? I wish.
Oh. My Dog Tulip.
Mmm. Oh. I don't think I know this one.
Uh, Professor Moynahan recommended it.
Oh, well, it must be good then. I think so, yes.
Okay, thanks. Ah-ah.
What about that one? Oh! I forgot.
I believe I know this author. Really?
Yeah. Is she one of your students? Yeah, she is.
Uh-huh. Well, how fortunate for her.
Send my love to Sherrie. I will.
And to Ruby. Mm-hmm.
We're late. Ah, who cares?
Oh, I have missed these dinners, these gatherings.
Lost souls pretending that they're not dying of boredom and angst in some provincial outpost.
Behave, or I'll take you home before dessert.
Ugh. I hope she doesn't serve jam trifle again.
Be nice. And no English accents.
It slipped out.
Can I interest you in some Marmite? Marmite? I love Marmite.
Haven't had Marmite since my wunderjahr at Oxford.
I am so glad you like it. Most Americans don't.
Oh! Sherrie! Hello.
How are you?
Hello. How are you?
Hi! Lovely to see you.
Lovely to see you too. Sir. How are you?
Can I interest you in some Marmite hors d'oeuvres?
I never say no to Marmite.
Unless, of course, you're serving it... with steak and kidney pie.
There he is. Hello, Ted.
Splendid of you to come.
Something to wash that down with, old man? Yes, um...
Vodka, please, on the rocks. A double.
Pellegrino, no ice, please. Thank you.
We were just talking about the rigors of the creative pursuit.
And now we can hear what our author in residence has to say on the subject.
How is your work going these days?
Well, sometimes fast, sometimes slow.
You know... Ah.
The creative process is very challenging.
But rewarding, when it's good.
What are you working on? Or is talking about one's writing verboten?
Only to those who have yet to read my previous work.
It's on my nightstand. Scout's honor. Third from the top.
Sure. You're working on another novel?
Yes, um, but, actually, I'd rather extol the virtues of Marmite.
Don't let the sarcasm fool you. He's very excited about it.
What's it about? Oh, have you told us? Sorry if I've forgotten.
No, actually... No, I don't think I did tell you.
I don't think I told anyone, not even my nearest and dearest.
Writers are a secretive bunch.
As if we're all just dying to steal their ideas. We are.
What's the title? Throw us a bread crumb. Come on.
Tease us. We do love to be teased.
It's called Eggs.
What an interesting title.
Well, yeah. Hmm.
I thought it was The Black and the Black.
The wife's always the last to know, isn't she?
Well, I think they're both great titles. Thank you.
Well, whatever it's called, I've got no doubt it's gonna be another smashing success.
Absolutely. Good for us.
Yes! - Yes. Cheers!
So how do Euston's best and brightest strike you this year?
Well, I don't suppose it'll come as a shock to say that each year's entering class seem to have read less than last year's worst students.
The high schools are definitely slacking off on their Dryden and Pope.
You know, I sort of had an interesting thing happen the other day.
It was in my Intro to American Lit.
We're doing Poe.
So I thought I'd give them a little bio, a little gossip really, to make things more immediate, give it a personal touch.
Well, that's what we've been reduced to... fodder for the talk shows.
Poe and his 13-year-old child bride cousin discussing their marital arrangements with Ellen.
I'm sure everyone would tune in.
They would. They would though.
S-So anyway, as I'm talking about Poe's marriage, the entire class gets quiet.
And when I asked them what the matter was, none of them would answer.
Until one young woman says, "We've been studying the work of a child molester?"
Oh, you've gotta be kidding.
Poor Edgar Allan.
Have the rest of you found this, um, heightened consciousness about those issues?
I never talk to a female student alone in my office without the door wide open.
And I keep a tape recorder in my desk in case things get dicey.
Last week we were doing Great Expectations, and one of my students, a big beefy jock, asked me if Dickens meant there to be a homosexual thing between Pip and Magwitch.
He was definitely trying to bait me.
Maybe he was just looking for a classically sanctioned way to come out.
I told him I didn't think Dickens meant us to read a gay subtext into the book and we should consider what the writer had intended.
The next day, a female student told me that the discussion had made her feel very "unsafe."
The way she said that word, "unsafe," gave me the chills.
It's a perfectly ordinary word with a perfectly valid meaning.
So, Lauren, do these things come up with you?
Of course they come up. I bring them up.
I want the students to feel safe... this word that Dave finds so chilling.
I want the students to be able to come to me if they are experiencing harassment or anything, really.
I really take them very seriously.
I have an idea. What's that, Ted?
I think that we have been giving in without a fight, that we have been knuckling under to the most neurotic forces of repression and censorship.
I think we need to help these people get over their problems.
We should desensitize them the way the Scientologists do.
Lock them in a room and shout dirty words at them until they grow up.
Shit, shit, shit! Fuck, fuck, fuck!
Cocksucker! Motherfucker! Asshole!
Fuck, fuck, fuck. Okay...
Throw in a couple of "cunts" while you're at it. Oh!
Just good, old, time-tested Anglo-Saxonisms.
And we will be doing these people a favor.
Emotionally, spiritually, educationally.
We'll be helping them grow up a lot faster than if we just coddle them and indulge every whim and neurosis.
It just... Aaah!
Ted's got Tourette's.
Late onset adult Tourette's.
It's a very rare condition.
Oh, good, dessert.
I hope everyone has room for a little jam trifle.
"Late onset Tourette's"?
That's what...? What was that? I had to say something.
My God, Ted, what the hell got into you?
"Throw in a couple of ‘cunts'"?
I kept expecting your head to swivel around and for you to projectile vomit.
I don't know. I think it was the whole Poe on Ellen thing that pushed me over the edge.
Oh, you're driving. Yes, I'm driving.
God, what a bunch of spineless idiots.
Imagine my father seeing me wind up here.
He would've staged a hunger strike to shut this place down.
Magda's got a huge crush on you, you know.
Nobody gets a crush on me anymore.
I'm too old.
"He says, ‘Is this 859-6732?
Is this Angela 911?'
I say, ‘What would you like to do tonight?'
He says, ‘I'm coming up to you from behind.
My hand is over your mouth.
I'm bending you over a trash can, making you open your legs.
You push your ass against me...'"
I'm going to bed. Okay. I'll be up in a bit.
"Just then, Eddie really started to hate mirrors.
Eddie was glad there were no mirrors on the bottom of the toilet bowls.
He would've had to see his fat, pale, jellyfish face..."
"He says, ‘Is this Angela 911?'
I say, ‘What would you like to do tonight?'
He says, ‘Listen to what I'm doing.
I'm pulling up your skirt, slapping your thighs just lightly.
You feel my hardness straining to find release.
You unbutton my...'"
It's great. Really.
Very brave work, Carlos. Thank you.
What did everyone think?
Thanks for what you said.
Oh, yeah, sure. No sweat.
At least somebody understands me.
That part where the guy goes on and on about the dog, that was amazing.
Doofy. Yes. Right.
You walkin' across the quad?
I got, like, a half an hour before Western Lit. We could grab a coffee.
I, uh... I can't. I've, um...
I gotta see what he thought about my chapter. I'm really nervous about it.
I think he probably hated it.
Well, good luck. Thanks.
I'll see you around. All right.
Looks like you made his day.
Well, I was just telling the truth.
His story wasn't bad. Yeah.
And thank you for not letting another class devolve into civil war.
Well, don't thank me too fast. Nothing's for free, you know.
Oh? What's it gonna cost me?
Time. Hard time.
This one... really sucks.
Great. I can't wait to read it.
Uh, it's from the mother's perspective, and it's about when the parents first meet.
I know I've been giving you so much stuff, so if it's too much, just let me know.
No, no, it's my pleasure. Really. I, um...
Uh, just don't be upset with me if it takes me, you know, a few days to read it.
Yeah, yeah. No rush. Okay.
I'll just be waiting by the phone.
All right. All right, thanks. I'll see ya.
All right. See ya.
"It was a morning like any other.
The alarm went off.
But when I tried to stand, the room spun until it threw me onto the floor.
I was terrified. I called a cab and went to the hospital.
The doctor looked in my eyes, my throat, and said I had an ear infection.
Nothing to worry about.
But as soon as I stood up to leave, I collapsed again on the examining room floor.
Nurses ran in.
I woke up as the young doctor was taking my pulse."
Are you all right?
"Later. We're married now."
How the hell could she have known that?
Hey, I read your chapter.
Already? Wow. Yeah.
I'm flattered. I'm just not so sure that you need it.
You know, the parents meeting, how they meet and...
It just seems a little bit... extraneous to me.
The reader needs to hear it for what's coming later.
But how did you come up with the whole thing, anyway? Um, I'm curious.
I mean, the earache and the... the falling down and the meeting in the hospital.
It happened to someone I knew in high school.
You sound upset. Is something wrong?
Oh, no. Oh, no. Um, no.
But we'll talk about it tomorrow. Okay.
Who was that?
You're leading her on, you know.
She won't appreciate it in the end.
Will you help me with the groceries? Of course.
I would love to. Yes.
Danny is, uh... He's doing just wonderfully.
His narrative skills are growing better by the day, and I must say he has a very vivid imagination.
Well, he's always loved creative writing. Especially about animals.
Excuse me. Is... Is this Professor Swenson?
Yes. Our Angela is in your class.
Oh, yes, of course. Yes.
Well, I'll let you go. I just wanted to see, in general, how he was doing.
And thank you for your inspiration. Okay. Thank you.
Amy. I'm sorry we're late.
We left Jersey at 5:30 this morning so we didn't have to pay for another night's motel.
That's a little more information than the professor needs.
Mark. Hi, Mark. How are you?
Good. Good. Please have a seat.
So, how is Angela doing?
Uh, she told us that we must come see you, that you were the only teacher that would have anything nice to say about her.
Well, I'm sure you'll find that that is not true.
No, she talks about your class all the time. You're, like, her hero.
She thinks you're the greatest writer that ever lived.
Well, that's very flattering. It's always good to have a fan.
Especially such a talented one.
Oh, w-well, sh-she's always wanted to be a writer.
You know, I remember when she started. I bought her this computer.
And she used to print up this little family newspaper.
Uh, stuff like how long she'd have to wait in the morning to get into the bathroom, you know.
Is, um, something the matter?
Oh, no, no. I-I-I...
She told... It's just...
I had no idea that her literary aspirations went back to early childhood.
Oh, yeah, she's always had a way with words, that one, you know.
That was your stepfather, right?
Of course. Why?
Oh, no, I was just, um...
I was curious because the way he was talking, he... he spoke as though he had known you your whole life.
Since you were, like, a baby.
Oh, well, he did.
Um, he lived next door to us my whole life, him and his wife.
And then... after my dad killed himself, about a year after, him and his wife split up and he married my mom.
It was a big neighborhood scandal.
You know, I... I did lie about something though.
Um, my dad... wasn't crazy.
He was... He was sick.
He had emphysema.
I remember this, um, time he took me grocery shopping, and... he got so winded he was wheezing and stuff.
He had to sit down.
And then I saw the checkout guy, who I thought was really cute...
I saw him roll his eyes at the girl that was bagging groceries.
And... I was embarrassed.
And ever since he killed himself, I think about that... every day, and I feel so guilty.
Why was I so mad at him?
But you weren't.
You weren't mad at him.
You were angry at the situation.
You were angry because life is... cruel and unfair.
It was crooked. Thanks.
"Mr. Reynaud looked closely.
His voice was calm, full of compassion and tenderness as he held the damaged egg up to the light.
I started to cry.
‘They're all dead and it's my fault,' I said to him.
They were supposed to hatch ten days ago.
I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing.
‘Don't blame yourself,' he said, soothing me with his gentle touch.
He wiped my tears, his fingers caressing my face, our bodies melting together, our lips, our tongues.
As his hand slipped under my jeans, I made a sound so low in my throat that even the unborn chicks must have heard me."
Angela Argo here.
Hey, give me that, you jerk-off. Stop.
You hated it, didn't you?
That's why you didn't call.
Actually, I quite admired it.
'Cause it was like...
What? I don't know.
It was weird, I guess, knowing you were reading those pages.
They were really intimate, and I was so nervous I didn't sleep all night.
Angela, I'm a professor of literature.
I mean, a little eroticism doesn't frighten me.
'Cause... now I can breathe.
I was just, you know...
I was imagining you getting home and getting ready for bed or eating dinner and knowing you were reading those pages and wondering if you were like, you know...
Anyway, I'm just really glad you liked it. That's great.
Um, sorry to bother you without an appointment.
When do I get more?
Um, well, at this point, probably never.
Yeah, well, writers block gets the best of us sometimes, doesn't it?
No, it's not that.
My hard drive just crashed, so I've gotta get a new computer.
Oh. Sorry to hear that.
Maybe this is a stupid idea, um...
And you can absolutely say no. In fact, I expect you to say no.
But I just really need a ride to Burlington.
My stepdad said I could buy a new computer on his credit card.
I want to buy it in person, because last time I bought it online and it was defective, and then returning it was a total nightmare.
Yeah, um, look, it's not impossible.
But, um, I...
When I'm not here, I'm writing, so...
I don't know that it will...
Right. I'm sorry. Yeah.
I figured that was why you'd say no.
Well, can't your boyfriend drive you, or...
I don't have a boyfriend.
Well, I thought you... Yeah.
It's no big deal. I'll just put it on the shelf for a little while.
Probably not such a bad idea anyway.
Thanks again. All right.
What about tomorrow at 10:00?
Oh, my God. Thank you so much. Thank you.
That would be great.
I live in Hughes. Do you wanna pick me up outside of my dorm?
Yeah, perfect. We'll just go... Great.
We'll go, we'll do it quickly, and then, uh, it'll be done.
All right, great. Thank you so much.
See ya. We'll see you tomorrow.
So have you decided what your major's going to be yet, or...
Well, I have till the end of the year to declare, but I was thinking creative writing.
Unless you think I should major in something else.
No, no. I think... No, I think it's a great idea.
No, I-I, um...
I just didn't want to assume that that was what you wanted to do.
Because writing is really the only thing that interests me.
It's all I care about, really.
If I wake up that day and I'm writing, then I'm in a good mood.
I know what you mean.
It's better than anything. Yeah.
It's better than sex.
Maybe not that. Maybe not that, yeah, but...
No, no. I don't want external speakers.
I just need to make sure it has the new Intel core i5 and i7 processors.
And I don't want an in-store service plan because it never breaks before that expires anyway.
Your daughter is very charming.
That was easy. Everything should be that easy.
It's just one writer helping another writer.
What... No. Sorry. Go ahead.
No, you... Go ahead. Choose.
Um, you wouldn't be willing, by any chance, to help me carry this stuff up to my room, would you?
Or help set it up?
I understand if you have to get going. I've taken up enough of your day already.
Actually, I don't think I'd be much help setting up a computer.
My wife had to set mine up.
I'm, like, totally useless.
So... Well, that's cool.
I can probably do it. Okay.
You can just be moral support.
Did you do these drawings?
Um, yeah. Mostly.
Very good. Thanks. I've been doing it forever.
I just kind of pass the time that way. You know?
I think we got it! Oh!
Putting together my last computer was, like, total hell.
You must be my good luck charm.
Well, I'm glad to hear it.
Hey, um, let me print out the new pages for you.
Son of a bitch.
Uh, the paper's jammed. Yeah, no shit.
Sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
I just... I really wanted to give you these pages before you went a-and...
Don't worry about it. You know what?
Just e-mail them to me, 'cause I really should go.
Sometimes it jams. Let me just try this one other thing. Okay?
Okay, all right... No, it's...
Relax, relax. It's okay. It's not...
It's so... It's okay. It's okay.
Hey. It's all right.
Oh, my God! What was that? I don't know.
Just heard that through my skull.
Sorry. I think I broke a tooth.
Are you okay? I don't know. Yeah.
I think I lost a filling or something.
That's not all you lost.
Oh, yes. I'm sorry. Don't worry about it.
Hey, um, let's... let's try this again.
Okay, well, I'm not so sure I'm... No, no, no, no.
What? No, not that.
I was gonna say my... Oh! pages, you know. Oh, ok... okay.
Um, hey, we never locked your door.
I locked it when we came in.
Oh. Whoa, I think we got it.
Um, do you have a, um...
Yeah, there's a, uh... Uh, what do you call it? Yeah.
We shook it loose. All right.
We did some kind of voodoo.
I'm very sorry about...
The new chapter.
Okay, I'll read it as soon as I can.
Look, we shouldn't really tell anybody about this. Right?
I mean, it'll cause a terrible scandal and...
Right, like I'm gonna tell anyone.
Like I want to get us both kicked out of Euston.
Don't worry. This didn't happen. Yeah, all right. Okay.
At least not yet. Okay. All right.
Ah, Claris. Hi. Hi, Professor Swenson.
How are you? Good. How are you?
Good, good, good. I'll see you in class. Yeah.
See you there. All right. Okay.
Oh, goody! You're home.
I can't decide. What would you like?
Uh, I don't know. That's a tough one.
Maybe roll back the clock. How 'bout that?
For dinner, silly.
Uh, how about some oatmeal?
I broke that tooth today.
Oh, no. Yeah.
How'd you do that?
On an olive. An olive?
At Euston Commons? Sounds exotic.
No, I... I...
I had this craving, so I went over to the Minit Mart quickly, and I, um...
I bought a whole jar and I-I ate practically the whole thing.
You know how you take... you put, like, the pits inside of your mouth, and then I... which I do... and then I bit on it, and...
Stupid. Maybe you're pregnant.
Weird food cravings.
For a second you looked scared you might actually be pregnant.
No, it's not funny. I really, um...
When you're 20-something, you think everything is replaceable.
But when you're 49, you know it isn't.
Aw. I'm sorry. It's okay.
You should've come to the clinic. We could've fixed you up.
Does it hurt?
Only when I do this. Ow.
Don't do that.
I'm going to make you some very soft, very delicious scrambled eggs with cheese.
Oh, good. Okay.
That did not hurt. No, no. Not really.
Don't you want something else, or...?
No. I'm all right.
"He pressed until the egg cracked, its slimy yoke slipping over our intertwined fingers.
My fingers slid against his fingers until our hands were joined and I no longer knew which fingers were whose.
He took my hand, still slippery from the egg, and wrapped it around his penis.
His spit tasted like an old person's food.
Liver and onions, fried fish.
His stomach pillowed into me.
Maybe he knew what I was thinking, because he got rougher as he pushed himself hard inside me.
I began to cry because it hurt, but at the same time, I felt happy that he wanted me, that I alone had the power to make a grown man risk everything to do what we were doing in the warm light of the shed, with the trays of eggs humming around us."
I know dudes who'd do that, okay?
I'm just not convinced this dude would do that.
It doesn't matter whether or not someone would do something like that.
What matters is whether Meg's made us believe that the guy in her story did it.
So... Hey, Meg.
The guy in your story... What does he do for a living?
I don't know. I mean, wait. He's a contractor.
Is that in the story?
It was, and then I took it out.
It's not in the story because the guy's not in the story.
We don't believe it for a fucking second.
We don't believe one thing he says or anything that he does, certainly not that he takes a cat up to the roof to kill it.
A guy like that is more likely to be nicer to the cat than he is to the woman.
It's like you didn't even investigate it.
You were too busy thinking up some vicious thing for this asshole to do than actually write a story.
Well, it appears that Angela did not care for Meg's writing this week.
I'm sorry. It's unfair Angela gets to shoot her mouth off about everybody else's stuff, and we never talk about her work.
She should have to play by the same rules we do.
However, I did make it clear at the beginning of the course that no one is obligated...
I'll bring my stuff into class. I'm not scared.
I just don't see the point.
But if it'll make you happy, I'll do it next week.
Okay. Great. Thank you, Angela, for volunteering and for, um, extricating us from this little snafu.
Beautiful. Mmm. It's one of my favorites.
All right, there we are. So we'll see you next week.
Angela, would you stay so that we could talk about what you would indeed like to read next week?
I'm sorry for going off like that.
You know, one minute I'm minding my business, and the next I'm ripping Meg's heart out.
Yeah, no, it's okay. I mean, you were right.
It's just the mood I'm in.
I was pissed before I came in here.
Why is that?
Because you didn't call.
About the pages.
Oh, yeah. No. I know. I'm sorry. I didn't get the chance...
It's just those were really extreme scenes, you know.
And I needed to know what you thought. It was driving me crazy.
And here I am defending male behavior against Meg's bullshit, but here you are exhibiting the worst type of male behavior.
And honestly I'd rather you throw my cat off the roof and kill it than have you read these really tough and hard-to-write pages and not even call.
It was thoughtless.
So then next week, I think you should just...
Let's just start with the first chapter.
Um, yeah. Sure.
You know, I don't know if I'll get much out of it.
No offense, but...
You know, I just really need to get my stuff out in the world to someone that... someone that doesn't know me, and they can tell me if I suck or if I should keep going or if I should just burn it all and rip it up and never write again.
I don't think that you have to do that.
Was that Blue Angel? Did you watch Blue Angel?
Yeah. I don't think I've ever seen it.
Marlene Dietrich's great though, right?
Pretty boring actually. It was hard to get through.
But I've gotta return it or else I might as well buy it.
Okay. Hey, uh...
What if the next time you talk to your editor in New York, you sort of mention my novel to him?
Have him just read a chapter, a couple of pages even, and then he'll tell you and you can tell me.
let me think about it.
Thanks. I really appreciate it. No problem.
See you. Okay. See you later.
So, let's talk about what we liked before we tear it down, as usual.
I thought some of the egg stuff was okay.
Oh, come on, Carlos. It was all so obvious and symbolic.
Thank you. I mean, this egg shit. Really? It's cliché.
I didn't believe the voice.
I mean, teenage girls don't think like that.
There were no teenage expressions in it.
It was like... It was totally unrealistic.
And the narrator's so... I don't know.
I just kept waiting to learn something about her as a character.
I feel you.
Okay, but it is the first part of the first chapter of a novel.
A novel's got to have something to keep you reading.
We're not staying with this story about some chick hatching eggs and having fantasies about her teacher.
Yeah. This is, like, the worst thing we've read in class all year.
You know, sometimes... sometimes, there comes along something that is new and fresh and original.
It's unlike anything that's ever been written before.
I'm not saying what Angela has written is Ulysses, but what I am saying is what she has written is very original.
And the rest of you need to see that.
Because if there's one thing that I want you to take away from this class, it's the ability... it's the generosity to see the real deal.
And that's the real deal.
It should be painfully obvious to all of you that what Angela has written is more sophisticated, more profound, more nuanced, and more compelling than anything any one of you has written for this entire semester.
And I'm shocked that you don't see it.
Hello. Hi. It's Ted Swenson calling for Len Currie.
One minute, Mr. Swenson. Mm-hmm.
How are you, man? Hey, how are you?
Jesus, you're hard to get ahold of.
You coming to New York? Yes.
In fact, that's why I'm calling.
I want to talk to you about a couple of things. Maybe the week after next?
The week of Thanksgiving?
Uh... No. Actually, I meant...
That Friday is perfect.
It's actually the only slot I've got free on my schedule for the next year.
Not really, but just about.
And by lunchtime I'll be climbing the walls to get away from the wife and kids.
Don't tell anyone I said that.
Norma's. Twenty-second and Park Avenue South. See you at 1:00.
Can't wait to finally read what you've got.
Oh, my God. Ted. She's here!
I did not expect you so early.
Oh, I thought you'd hit all that traffic.
It wasn't too bad actually. Oh. Good.
Smells good, Mom. Hey!
Hey. How are you? Hi.
She's back and better than ever.
You look great.
You look great. Thanks, Dad.
You don't need to say it a third time. Okay. All right.
I'm taking this course on the abnormal personality.
It's for my psych major. Mmm. That sounds interesting.
Yeah, a lot of these studies say that first-degree relatives of affected individuals have a higher risk of developing symptoms themselves.
Makes you think about Grandpa. It makes perfect sense.
This is absolutely delicious, honey.
Although a child of a bipolar has less than a 15-percent chance of developing it himself.
Well, there you go. Fifteen percent. Spared.
Unless there are other members of the family who suffer from some kind of mood disorder too.
I remember your mother was depressed a lot as well.
Honey, would it be all right if we didn't talk about my inherited mental illness during Thanksgiving dinner?
It's pretty fascinating though.
Bipolar is rampant.
My father wasn't bipolar.
He was angry about the state of our country.
I just think his underlying emotional state must have had a big effect on you, and I'm surprised you never went into therapy.
Why? I'm a writer.
To me, it's all grist for the emotional mill. Why shrink it away?
He set himself on fire.
Yes, I know that. I know.
But I don't think political outrage is inherited, so...
I wouldn't worry. Okay.
Let's change the subject.
How's your book coming?
So how's the novel coming?
Well, it's coming. You know, it's coming.
It's... It's slow.
It's coming slowly, but actually I didn't want to talk to you about my novel.
I wanted to talk to you about, uh, a novel that one of my students is writing.
God help us. No, no, no.
It's about a high school girl who has an affair with her teacher.
Here, let me... I want to give it to you.
You're fucking her. What?
No, I'm not... But you want to.
No, I don't want to... It's not about sex.
It's about that this kid is really, really talented.
I believe you. I re... I'm sure she's very good.
But I don't have time to look at some chick novel about a girl with the hots for her high school teacher.
Why don't you just look at the first few pages? Ted.
First few pages. Ted.
First few pages. Ted.
Do yourself a favor. Take the manuscript back.
Tell her you'll show it to me if she lets you fuck her.
Now, what about your book?
Let's get serious here.
I've had a thought.
Have you ever considered a memoir?
You don't need me to tell you that what's selling these days has the juicy gleam, the bloody smell of truth.
Yes, I know.
How many people you think read a novel?
I... About 5,000.
Out of the 5,000 people that read your novel, 2,000 of them are dead, and the other three... they've forgotten.
Better to be a hot, new memoirist than a mid-list, middle-aged novelist.
I'm not doing this as your publisher.
I'm doing this as your friend.
Well, I appreciate that.
Thank you. Thank you.
I don't know you that well, but the best thing... the really good thing would be if there was something that had been going on since your father's death.
Some ongoing problem. A problem? Like what?
What are you...
Drinking, drugs, spousal abuse.
Oh! Sex addiction.
Compulsively fucking your students.
That would be great.
Something that's directly traceable... Shh! to your dysfunctional childhood.
And something that you've, you know, "recovered from," of course.
I'll think about it.
What are you doing, sitting in the dark?
I don't know. Just thinking.
Is Ruby all right? Is she pissed that I went?
No. No, not at all. I told you, she's fine.
What did Len have to say?
Oh, well, you know, his kid's got ADD, and they're medicating him into a stupor, and, you know.
I mean about the chapters that you gave him.
Oh, yeah. Yeah, no. He's, um...
You know, he's excited.
You know, but it's probably gonna take him a little while to read it, he said, so...
Everyone would love to see you finish Eggs.
Oh, by the way, one of your students called.
She sounded upset.
Did she leave her name? No.
She said she wanted to talk about her novel.
She thought it was your cell.
Oh, her novel.
Oh, great. Her novel.
She's back in New Jersey. She left her number.
She said to call her anytime.
Unbelievable. These students, you know...
You say don't call me unless it's a life-threatening emergency, and, of course, everything to them is a life-threatening emergency.
You know, you're at their beck and call. It's just...
I'm sure it's nothing that can't wait until Monday. Okay.
I'm going up.
All right. I'll see you up in a minute.
I hate it when you look at me like that.
I'm sorry. I didn't think I was looking at you like dinner.
I don't usually think about dinner until I've had lunch.
So, I'm guessing it didn't go very well.
Otherwise, you would've called.
No, I... I, uh... I talked to him about it, and he said...
You know, he's a very busy man. He said he'll read it.
Of course, he could be so busy that he just pretends to read it and then sends it back.
But, unfortunately, we have no control over that.
So when can I call him?
How was your Thanksgiving? Grisly.
So when can I call and see if he's read it?
I don't think he would like that.
Um, that might make him want to not read it.
You didn't give it to him, did you?
I didn't leave it with Len.
It's not that I didn't try. I did.
It's just that he's not reading any new novels now.
And you shouldn't take it personally.
It's not... You know, it's not like he read it and he didn't like it.
It's just... That's all.
I mean, come on.
You're young. You haven't even finished the novel yet.
You and I both know that this is all... bullshit.
None of it matters.
When am I going to be published? My reputation and my fame.
The only thing that matters is the work.
That's all. The work.
No. Fuck you.
I went out of my fucking way for you.
I went down to Manhattan to see my editor, so he could take me out for lunch so he could treat me like shit, so he could tell me that I had to write a memoir about my early years... everything that I covered already in Phoenix Time.
But now I'm supposed to write it in a different way, and it's supposed to be the actual truth.
Fuck me. Fuck you.
What did you tell him? I told him no.
I'm a novelist, plain and simple.
I still have some standards.
It's easy for you to have standards, with your nice, fat teaching job and your tenure forever and ever.
You'll always have time to write, even if you don't.
Whereas if I end up working at a drugstore, which with my parents' connections is a best-case scenario, I'll never have the time, while you sit here making your little moral distinctions about not selling out your fabulous talent.
I can't believe you let this happen.
I can't believe you didn't fight harder for me. Angela, what...
The only reason why I let you fuck me was so you could get my novel to someone who could actually do something.
I did not think that that's what that was about.
I did not think this was about you letting me fuck you.
I thought that was something that we both wanted.
Well, now you know.
Hello? Professor Swenson?
It's Hillary from Dr. Bentham's office.
Dr. Bentham would like to see you as soon as you arrive this morning, if possible.
Um, yeah, I should be there in about ten, 15 minutes.
Will it take long? Because I have office hours this morning.
I'll tell him you'll be here shortly.
Thank you so much.
Hi. Please, sit.
Thank you for coming in on such short notice.
Oh, yeah. Well, office hours this early aren't very popular, so...
Ted, maybe we could dispense with the small talk, if that's all right, and get directly to the point.
So I'm guessing it didn't go very well.
Otherwise, you would have called.
No, I-I, uh... I talked to him about it, and he said...
You know, he's a very busy man. He said he'll read it.
Of course he could be so busy that he just pretends to read it and then sends it back, but, unfortunately, we have no control over that.
I can't believe you let this happen.
I can't believe you didn't fight harder for me.
The only reason why I let you fuck me was so you could get my novel to someone who could actually do something.
I did not think this was about you letting me fuck you.
I thought that was something that we both wanted.
I did not make this girl sleep with me in exchange for pimping out her novel.
Ted, maybe it's premature to warn you that everything you say can be used against you, but...
Are you arresting me? Is that what's happening?
Are you reading me my Miranda rights? Are the cops here?
Of course not.
But the evidence against you, it does look pretty damning.
The student is charging you with sexual harassment.
She's threatening to sue the school.
And given what she's presented us with, I really think you might consider, for everybody's sake, resigning.
I wouldn't ask you to do it just for the college, old chap.
I'd say go ahead, fight, if that's what you want.
But you do have a family to consider and a professional reputation.
And my so-called options?
Well, I suppose we'd have to form a committee to look into this.
Hold a hearing, if necessary. And I assume it would be.
It's all spelled out in the faculty handbook under sexual harassment.
This is not sexual harassment.
Actually, Ted, this sounds like the textbook case of sexual harassment.
Yeah, but that's not what it is.
Incidentally, Ms. Argo has asked me to ask you to not contact her until after this matter is settled.
So, what do you say, Ted?
Want to go out to dinner?
Are we celebrating something?
Uh, a day without disaster.
Oh. That's worth celebrating.
You might want to wait for a month without disasters for that.
Well, there won't be any of those anytime soon, so... let's go tonight.
All right. All right.
Let me just go take a shower. Okay.
Ted. What are you...
In my dread and confusion, I reverted to the conventional wisdom that if you're going to deliver shattering information to a loved one, it's best to do it in a crowded place that will preempt tears, recriminations, murder attempts, and so forth.
I guess I should have known that at 7:00 on a weekday night, the place would be empty.
I'll have the venison.
And I'll have the, um, salmon. Oh.
Uh, even though it's probably exhausted after swimming all the way to Vermont.
We made it through Thanksgiving.
Not too bad. Not too bad.
Not too bad. I barely remember it.
What do you think?
Think she'll come home for Christmas?
Yeah, I hope so. Yeah.
I'm so glad we're in this together. Me too.
So if I...
If I tell you something... Mm-hmm. will you promise not to be mad at me, no matter what?
I recognize a lose-lose deal when I hear one.
No, I mean it.
Have you been sleeping with a student?
Oh, my God. I was kidding.
I didn't really...
I didn't sleep with her. My tooth broke.
Oh, okay. So you were going to sleep with her, except your tooth broke?
Well... Something like that. Not really.
I mean... What did she do? Punch you in the face?
Is she the one who called when you were supposedly in New York?
Um, I think so.
And do you think that's who you went to see when you told us you were going to see your editor?
Look at me, goddamn it! Okay. All right.
What are you looking at them for?
Look... No, I was in New York. I saw Len.
I wouldn't lie about something like that.
I'm very superstitious. You know that.
What if the plane went down? Too bad it didn't.
Is she pretty? No.
No. Not really. No.
Then what? Youth? Great body? What?
No, no. None of that. Nothing. It's just...
She can write, you know.
She can write? This is about writing?
And it never once crossed your mind that your wanting to sleep with this kid might have clouded your literary judgment?
It's just that this novel she's writing, it's just...
It's stupid. I know it's stupid.
That's what attracted me.
Oh. Oh, I get it. And okay. Wait...
So you didn't fuck a student. You fucked a book.
You're like some groupie, like one of those chicks who used to come up to you after one of your readings because they thought you were some famous writer.
You know what? You're worse than a groupie.
You're like a vampire sucking this kid's blood. Okay.
A guy whose own daughter barely talks to him because he forgot she existed.
You were so self-involved, so in love with your own little problems, that the only way that she can get your attention is to start dating a guy whose reputation is so bad even you will have heard of it, even with your head so far up your ass.
Okay, that's... All right. Sherrie.
Those pathetic little crushes you used to get on students, always simpering about how Little Miss Such-and-Such is really very talented, and always asking me if anyone would still think you were attractive.
I should have known better.
Serves me right for thinking that we were different.
We weren't like everybody else. We weren't the cliché.
The aging, insecure writer and his pathetic, supportive wife.
Okay. God, what could possibly be more cliché than thinking you're not one?
Whatever the fuck you are looking for, it is not out there.
It is not in me.
And it's not in the pussy of one of your students who just happens to be able to write.
I know that. Don't you think that I know that?
She's filing a sexual harassment suit against me.
I hope they crucify you.
I hope they fucking make you pay.
Ruby. Hi, honey. I was going to call you...
I think it sucks what you did to Mom.
You should feel like shit.
That's how you made her feel. No, I know that. I know.
And I can offer up no worthy defense.
Nice talking to you too.
♪ Falling in love again ♪
♪ Never wanted to ♪
♪ What's a girl to do? ♪
♪ Can't help it ♪
♪ Love's always been my game ♪
♪ Play it how I may ♪ I'm sorry, my friend, but you have left me no choice.
I must request your resignation.
All sold out. Standing room only, Herr Professor.
I will not go on. What happened to you?
Are you mad? You have got to go on.
Put on his wig.
Don't get excited, Herr Professor.
Be calm, please.
Ladies and gentlemen, an egg.
We all know why we're here... to investigate the charges brought by Miss Angela Argo against Professor Theodore Swenson.
This committee has already taken a number of depositions under advisement.
Do you have any questions, Ted?
I suppose we should just begin.
Can you tell us in your own words what happened at Dean Bentham's on the evening of November 6?
Did you ever notice anything unusual in Professor Swenson's behavior toward Ms. Argo?
Did he do anything in class that led you to suspect that he was involved inappropriately with Ms. Argo?
Did you ever see him with Ms. Argo in a venue that surprised you?
Well... Thank you for coming in.
We appreciate your honesty.
Thank you for your courage, Miss Williams.
The committee appreciates your help.
Could you tell us the reason for Ms. Argo's visits to the health clinic?
This one time she came in... Sherrie Swenson and I were on duty... and she said that she had been having suicidal thoughts.
She was worried that she'd never meet a man she could love.
How did you respond?
She wanted to know how we met our husbands.
So we told her, and it seemed to give her comfort.
Well, thank you so much for coming.
Okay, Angela. Do you feel ready?
Let us start by saying that everybody understands how difficult it has been for you to do this, how brave you are for helping to make sure that this kind of thing is stopped.
I want to start by asking, when did you first realize that Professor Swenson was interested in something beyond the ordinary student-teacher relationship?
Well, I caught him looking at me in class a lot.
And then I found out he checked out my book of poems from the library.
And, um, I figured something was going on.
How did that make you feel?
It creeped me out, big time.
How did things between you progress?
I guess it was when I told him that my computer crashed, and he offered to take me down to Burlington to the computer store.
Objection, Your Honors. I did not offer. She asked.
Ted, you'll get your chance.
And this isn't a court of law.
Addressing us as "Your Honors" isn't necessary.
All right. Okay.
Then what happened?
Nothing, at first.
He seemed really nervous, like he was scared someone would see us.
When we were on our way back, he started talking about his editor in New York and asked if I would like the guy to look at my novel.
And that's when he put his hand on mine and moved it to my leg...
Oh, my God. That is bullshit, Angela!
That is complete and total bullshit!
Ted. It's bullshit.
You'll get your say. It's bullshit.
Please. Excuse the interruption.
Anyway, when we got back to the dorm, he offered to help me carry the computer up to my room.
And you told him yes?
I was just feeling totally passive, like I was totally out of control of everything.
And what happened next, Angela?
I know this is hard for you, but we do have to know.
Then we sort of had sex.
Or we began to, and then his tooth cracked.
And? That ended it.
How did you feel?
I shouldn't have done it, but I guess what he was offering in exchange was too tempting.
Did he keep up his end of the bargain?
He said his editor wasn't interested and didn't want to take a look at my book.
Go ahead, honey.
Tell them the good news. Good news?
About a week ago, I got a call from a guy named Len Currie.
Professor Swenson's editor.
He said he'd found my manuscript on the chair where they had had lunch, and he picked it up and read it on his way home in a cab, and that he... he's offered me a contract to publish it.
That is wonderful!
Am I done? Yes, of course. Thank you.
And, uh, congratulations on your... on your book.
Thanks, I guess.
Now I have to finish it.
Ted, I imagine there are now some things that you would want to say.
First of all, I'd like to say that I'm sorry.
Sorrier than you can even ever imagine.
I'm sorry that...
I ruined my marriage.
Sorry that I ruined my career.
I'm sorry that I sacrificed my extraordinary wife for an adolescent idea of romance.
Sorry that I can't seem to write a novel that's nearly as good as my first.
Sorry that my daughter won't speak to me.
Sorry that... my father set himself on fire.
And I'm sorry that I've spent the better part of a decade, which I will never get back, among all of you.
I admit that my behavior towards Angela was... inappropriate and unprofessional.
I regret it. And I regret it so much.
But I do not agree with the way it's been presented here today.
The truth has been twisted.
What happened between Angela and me... was personal, and it was complicated.
But it was never, ever a business transaction.
That's a lie.
Excellent. Thank you.
And thank you all.
The committee will be letting you know its decision within, let's say, the next two weeks.
In The Blue Angel, Professor Rath, mad with grief, wanders through the snowy streets, broken and humiliated, the cause of his own undoing.
He died in his classroom, alone, forsaken, clinging in vain to a life no longer his.
But I'm not Professor Rath.
Yes, we both destroyed the lives we had, were manipulated by forces unexplored, feelings repressed, ghosts from our past.
But I destroyed the lives of others too... those I loved the most, those who trusted me.
And that is something I have to live with.
"Why did I let it happen?" I still ask myself.
Did I set myself on fire to protest my own complacency?
Was it the only way I could shake off my inertia and leap into the unknown?
I don't know.
All I do know is that I'm writing again.
And for the moment, that is enough.
How is that?