It happened again today.
A couple of weeks ago, a girl sitting next to me in psych class turned toward
me before the lecture began. It’s a big class, maybe not big for university
standards, but big for the college I attend. I sat on the front row in the
middle, my customary seat in any classroom, the first day of class, but I was
late for several class periods following that, and someone took my seat. In
fact, I’m late for psych class most of the time. Public Administration is
right beforehand, and I usually get in a conversation with my professor and
at least one other class member afterward. If I leave early enough, I’ll
stop and chat with other people along the way, so either way, I’m almost
never on time for psychology. Many days see me hauling butt across the quad
to get to the library, where my classroom is. At least I get my exercise,
In any case, because I’m almost always late, I never sat in the same seat
twice for the first month of school. I never could remember which seat I sat
in last, and even if I did, there’d usually be someone in it that I’d
displaced last time. I’ve sort of laid claim to a seat over to the left
about half way back now, but I still just slide into the first available one
if the lecture is already in progress. This particular day, however, I
managed to get to class before the professor started teaching and sit in the
desk next to the girl, who turned toward me and asked, “Do you have a sister
that goes here?” This surprised me because 1) I’d never noticed her before
and didn’t recognize her from anywhere, 2) not many people know that my
sister attends the same school I do, 3) my sister and I don’t look anything
alike, and 4) no one I didn’t know already ever talks to me in that class
(even those who do know me don’t talk to me on a regular basis).
I looked at her and answered, “Yes.”
“Does she have a class with Dr. Allums?” she pressed. I again answered in
the affirmative. “Well,” she looked triumphant, “your sister is in that
English class with me.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“Your sister is in that English class with me,” she repeated, thinking I
I nodded. “I know. I’m sorry.” She looked taken aback. Then she laughed
nervously, and the lecture began.
Afterward, I asked her what her name was and told her mine. “Holly,” she
“Holly,” I repeated, then added, “I’ll forget that.” No sense in building up
false expectations in people. That’s what I always say. I’m terrible with
names, and just because I ask someone what their’s is doesn’t mean I’m going
to remember it.
My sister came home that day and gave me an odd look. Come to think of it,
my sister is always giving me odd looks. That would seem to make them not so
odd, but she doesn’t look at other people that way very often, so maybe it
still qualifies them as odd. She told me that a girl in her English class
had met me that day and given her a strange report of me. I laughed and
refused to deny any of it.
But it happened again today.
I ran across campus again in time to find out we’re still studying about
psychological disorders. Today the professor outlined the symptoms of
schizophrenia and anti-social personalities, also known as sociopaths.
Sociopaths have no conscience. They can do anything without feeling any
guilt or remorse. They can lie without becoming nervous and so pass
polygraph tests flawlessly. They’re thrill seekers and love breaking rules
and getting away with it. So after hearing all about schizophrenia and now
anti-social personalities, I was doing a lot of self examination. The class
time came to a close, so I turned toward Holly, whom by seemingly mere chance
I was sitting next to again, and said, “It’s scary to hear about this
“Yeah!” she agreed hastily.
“…and think, gee, that sounds a lot like me,” I continued.
Her eyes got wide. “Uh,” she stuttered, “oh.” Then she laughed again.
My sister greeted me when I walked in the door this afternoon. Then she
tried not to smile. I could tell what she was thinking. “What did she say?”
“What’s her name, Holly?” my sister said, “Yeah, she came into class today
and told me, ‘Your sister is really crazy!'”
I doubled over in laughter and then asked, “Well? What did you say?”
My sister smiled and answered, “‘I know.'”