The Practice Room
Updated: Feb 13
Nobody walks away from college thinking, "That cafeteria was a fantastic dining experience." Everybody remembers the learning curve of finding foods that were consistently edible, and the consequences that came with eating the wrong thing. I know it's not that bad, and it certainly could've been worse -- but you do have to be careful, and not just because of the Freshman Fifteen.
Immediately after lunch one semester, I had my Piano I course -- a requirement I needed to pass for my music minor. I rode my bike to the building and reported to the classroom for attendance. Our professor was a crotchety old woman addicted to drinking Listerine, of which she kept a bottle in her purse. She was known for her intensity in the classroom and her prowess on the pipe organ. She had us report to class before she sent us dispersing into individual practice rooms, where we'd warm up while waiting for her to come around to give us personal feedback. It was like getting a five minute long private piano lesson, two times a week.
She dismissed us to our individual rooms once she'd ticked off our names on a clipboard. As I ambled around the second floor of the music building, my stomach churned and cramped. Apparently my cafeteria lunch was not sitting well today. I found a vacant room and dropped my heavy backpack. That helped my tummy a little. I slumped down on the piano bench. It hurt too much to assume the proper posture. I opened my assignment book and laid my fingers on the keys. I had to go to the bathroom.
I began my warm-up exercises, and my stomach lurched, making my pants painfully tight. I was getting nervous: how close was the professor to coming into my room? Did I have time to use the bathroom? If I broke wind would it clear in time before she knocked on my door?
A moan escaped from my gut. Maybe I could just relieve a little pressure...I cut the cheese and instantly felt relief. It was a doozy.
I let out a sigh, then there was a knock on my door. Great -- immediately after farting, my professor arrived to work with me. Without waiting for a response, she opened the door and fussily let herself in, banging it closed behind her.
There was a pregnant pause, then --
"Oh, my God!" she exclaimed. "These old practice rooms! They really need to fix the ventilation system. This is horrible! You can't work in these conditions! You can't breathe!"
"Oh yeah -- yeah, it's terrible," I agreed nonchalantly. "It's pretty bad... Yeah -- thank God we're expanding into the new building soon..."
Thank God for those acting classes, I was thinking.
My one-on-one instruction time was rather brief that day. I waddled to the restroom after she left, then rode my bike back to my dorm to recover. Lunch was really inflicting some pain that day.
Had it been any other professor, I would've been mortified. But her? She repeatedly made the lives of my friends more difficult, so I felt that in some way I had vindicated their suffering.