November 19, 2009
A few years ago, an ex-professor of mine wrote to tell me that she was up for an “Excellence in Teaching” award. She asked me for a letter of recommendation. The following is that letter. Some names have been (poorly) changed. Some haven’t.
92819 Deadwood Creek Road
Deadwood, Oregon 97430
30th December 2002
Dear Excellence In Teaching Adjudication Committee:
School doesn’t pay—you pay school. This is not the case with Professor Linda Ross. I realized this one day while at the University of Miami, which as you might know is located in balmy Coral Gables, Florida.
I had just finished having sex with my girlfriend in her dorm room, Room 307 in the Eaton dormitory, when she, in post-coital lucidity, mentioned that I might want to investigate these odd little white notices that kept appearing under my door each day. Something about the “cancellation of classes,” if I recall correctly.
Oh, I remember it all so clearly… The underpaid minority groundskeepers buzzing all around me as I walked up the cobblestone steps to the Office of Financial Aid. Then, the well-dressed gentleman leaning over the counter, telling me that I was to vacate the premises immediately—post haste. Looking back on it, I don’t know if it was that or the single file lines of friendly UM students in green and white embroidered polo shirts so kindly helping me move my stuff out of my dorm and into my small Hyundai…but something told me it was my time to leave.
I seem to have strayed from my topic sentence, the one about Linda Ross paying—either in some sort of tangible or perhaps more metaphorical way—but sit tight, oh inaccessible teaching excellence adjudication committee; I shall return to my point shortly.
After I got the news, I went to see the only person who could console me: Linda Ross. She invited me over for dinner that night for what was to become the first of many life-altering dinners at Linda’s. By now I’ve had so many that I’ve thought of making a movie called “Dinners at Linda’s.” At this first dinner, after she had gotten me thoroughly drunk on boxed wine and jerked chicken, she showed me a painting. This painting was to change the direction of my life forever. The painting, quite simply, was a painting of her naked. It was done by an old boyfriend of hers, shortly before committing suicide. Now, I know this isn’t exactly Dead-Poets-Society-level shit, but despite my inebriation, it was a very sobering night.
Fast forward three years and now we are in the present, wherein I am broke and live on a commune in Oregon. Here Linda comes through again. She tells me, over email, that if I write her an award-winning letter, she will split the 4,000 USD prize money with me. What luck! So you see, ladies and kindly gentlemen of the Excellence in Teaching Committee, while with school I am some 40,000 USD in the hole, with Professor Linda Ross, I’m 2,000 to the green.
Most humbly yours in erudition,
John L Singleton