9936 – Jane

Humans, such unusual creatures.

This was my first thought coming into class this morning. Since I was only to be present in this university’s cell – well, “classroom” – for a little over a week, the Board of Human Observation let me take up the hour lecturing.

It was a privilege to take the form of a professor in this university. For such an occasion, I dressed myself in a vibrant pencil skirt, floral blouse, and glasses sans lenses. My wardrobe was put together with careful detail to be representative of the professional role.

But at eight in the morning on a Monday, all levels of decorum are apparently ignored.

One of the students was sitting there with hair gathered sloppily with a band, sandals, and Tinker Bell yoga pants.

Is this an indication of the lack of perception of school as a professional setting?

Could this be a result of fatigue?

Did they consume too many illegal substances?

While it’s difficult to draw a conclusion at such an early stage, my instincts told me it was a combination of the three.

“Now class, to ensure you understand the different proximities considered the norm for each type of relationship, I’ve prepared a worksheet for all of you.”

As I passed the papers out, I had to wonder at the accepted waste of it.

Dozens of sheets were distributed, all of which would later be discarded in the waste bin.

Why do this?

They already progressed to the digital era, so what prompts them to continue destroying their resources for such fleeting purposes?

While printing in the library, I took a stack of blank sheets with me and placed them in my bottom filing cabinet one paper at a time.

Surely, I’d rationalized, there was some inherent value in these blanched, flimsy tree-segments that I was missing.

Shaking my head and returning to the present, I walked my way back to the front of the class only to pause to look at one student’s computer screen.

Facebook, I mused, one of the few social media platforms my colleagues and I have been made aware of.

On his, what do they call it… news forum, I saw he changed his relationship status update to single.

If he had terminated his relationship then why were there so many “likes?” Are his friends satisfied that he was in a failed relationship?

The comments were equally confusing with phrases like “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” “aw, do you want to netflix and chill,” and “hit me up on grindr” combined with a crudely yellow representation of facial features.

If his life was in danger because of this relationship I needed to report it immediately.

I would talk to this pupil after class.

Second, are “breakups” not associated with emotional vulnerability?

Does this friend think that ignoring the end of this relationship by watching Netflix and “chilling” that this boy’s emotional climate will improve?

Finally, what is “grindr,” and why does the word not have an “e” in it as the English grammatical rules dictate?

This was a big portion of the reason I wanted to visit this planet again after only twenty Earth cycles.

The introduction of the digital era has altered the dating paradigm in confounding ways.

When 9:30 ante meridiem arrived, the class sighed in collective relief, gathered their items, and rushed out of the door, chatting to each other in elevated volumes.

My keen ears allowed me to pick up some of the conversations.

This one wanted to go back to bed, another wanted to catch up on some show, and another saw a monster in the sink?

Wait what? Oh! My mistake!

They need a monster to drink. That makes less sense, but I’d rather assume it’s a brand name than investigate.

After confronting the one pupil whose social media profile I’d seen and him assuring me that he was not in mortal danger (note to self: brush up on North American figures of speech), I returned to my office and prepared the materials for my next class.

“9936!” My head jerked up. Only residents of Andromeda knew of my identification number. It was 2113.

“And how has your day been, Andrea?” I said as I walked over to her. Closing the door I hissed, “Refer to me by my human name! We can’t risk exposure 2113, you know this.”

She sighed. “Of course professor, you’re right. I wasn’t thinking. I got caught up in a social situation that I don’t know what to do with?”

“You use present tense. Is it happening right now?” I inquired.

“Yes! There was this fleet of athletes, and they crowded my friend Judith. Their stances weren’t threatening, but I didn’t know what to do without causing a fuss. I’m trying to blend in.”

I nodded. “Lead me to her.” At a brisk pace we approached the “quad” and I saw this Judith.

She exhibited friendly behavior towards some of the athletically inclined gentlemen who were inviting her to pass around the plastic disc – excuse me: friz-bee – with them but was being stalled by two of the jocks who seemed to be pressuring her to some party, but she was declining.

Looking around the grassy area, inspiration struck.

“Watch and learn, Andrea.” I whispered as I approached Judith.

“Hey, your friend pointed me out to you. Have you had a chance to sign the petition over there? The students are seeking to ban that disgusting graphic novel in your school store portraying women as sex objects rather than characters.”

Judith nodded and said, “Sure thing professor!” She walked off and the two athletes that had been crowding her walked off.

“Wow,” Andrea whispered to me, “How did you know that would work?”

“It’s simple, really.” I replied. “The only thing that has been proven to discourage overconfident, over-compensating human males is feminism.”

Halle Nelson is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in English literature and deaf studies. She can be reached at HN824858@wcupa.edu.

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