Who says poetry isn't popular and doesn't change lives?
|“It's time to batten down the hatches.” Professor Morrey Tedmill closed the freshman class poetry book. It was the finish to one of the few free verse poems he’d written and included in his mandatory text.
“Not to bad. Only the basic level of baritone snores from up there in the back row.” The females in the class continued passing around the required box of kleenex.
Sally Perkin’s, this year’s infatuation with all things teacher dabbed at her eyes. Her chin trembled. “That was beautiful, Morrey.” She gasped, her ample chest rising and falling at her free use of his first name. “Professor Tedmill.”
The silence grew profound. “Sally? Will you stay for a moment?” He quickly added for safety sake, “You and Mary Beth?”
“Yes,” They echoed together along with the bell buzzing the end of the hour. The fevered adoration in both young lady’s voices rose as they did. Every other pair of student eyes measured the look shining in their eyes.
“Two at the same time, this term,” A male voice spat from a departing back. “And I can’t get a date with either of them for the life of me.”
“I know. The only reason I took this class is because of there being five girls to every boy.” That voice was recognizable. It was the freshman class nerd, Henry Thomas, great with math and science. Couldn’t string a sentence together without it needing a question mark at the end.
Professor Tedmill tapped his red marking pen on his desk. Sally and Mary Beth jostled for first place in line as close as they dared to the pedestal they’d put him on. It wouldn’t do to blatant in his request for them to stop this nonsense. Looking like a young Cary Grant meant walking a fragile line between his teaching duties and handling frail female egos.
“I want you each to do something special for me. It may require some after-hours with me in a private study hall room at the library. Are you O.K. with that?” He shushed their eager replies.
“Of course you’ll receive extra credit towards your grade. Say an automatic ‘B’ which you each are now struggling to maintain to an “A”?”
The blushes and gushes, simpers, and sighs, violent nods of happy agreement were no surprise. “Shall we say starting tonight from eight to ten in room nine?”
“You mean both of us? With you? Together?”
He saw where this was going. If he said yes, they’d draw straws with the winner showing up. The loser might be lurking with ear at the door or lay sobbing on her bed. “One hour for each of you. We’ll see how that works out. I may need one, none, or both depending on the results.”
“Yes, Morrey.” Again the echo from between hungry smiling lips greeted his request. Those two words sounded like they each were reciting wedding vows. Being the most eligible bachelor on campus was increasingly becoming a problem. The dean had requested a private meeting before the next morning’s class. “Thank you. I will see Sally first then Mary Beth. We’ll alternate the next night and see how things go from there?”
The girl's eyes glittered with excitement as the battle lines were drawn. “That will give you time to freshen up, maybe fix a meal before we get together?”
He managed to shake hands across the desk before they launched themselves at him in some kind of ardent group hug. The extra sway of hips, backward looks and winks made him groan inside. “Great. Bye now.”
It was time to batten down the hatches, all right. Tonight was sink or swim. “This better work the first time. There will never be a second chance.”
Two fast phone calls later with promises of changes in plans set, Professor Morrey Tedmill crossed his fingers, pulled some of his most sensual written poetry from his file and was ready to sail into the fray.
“Sally? This is Henry. I want you to read something that shows promise.” He passed a copy of the free-verse poem across, watched the startled look in her eyes as she read silently. The blazing blush across her cheeks revealed a sunrise of emotion laid bare. “He wrote this?”
“I want you to help tutor him here three times a week and see how his talent develops. Here’s another one.” A few more passed hands with only Henry and Morrey knowing who the real poet was that anchored the meeting.
The same winds blew the next hour between Mary Beth and a certain hesitant football player. Professor Morrey Tidwell asked to meet a day later with the dean. It required asking his secretary for a date and for her to use her magic to get the delay.
A wink and nod meet him at the secretary’s desk. “Better atmosphere here this morning. Go right in.”
“Hello, Tedwill. Sit down. Proud of you. I heard through the grapevine how you handled things. I wish I knew your secret of success. You sailed right through this mess. I understand the whole class is talking about how the two mermaids in question turned tail and are now going steady with two rising young freshman poets.”
The dean’s positive harangue was interrupted by a phone call from the college president. On speakerphone, Tedwill received an immediate pay raise, letter of commendation, and became assistant to the dean.
A few short weeks afterward, one date had become more. Morrey and the dean’s secretary each wore each other’s rings. Life became pure poetry as their ship sailed off into the sunset with only them aboard.