We arrived 10 minutes early for our first afternoon class. It was in a different classroom, but the seating arrangement was identical to the morning class. Jody and Susan took the same front row seats as this morning. I wanted to ask them why they chose to sit in the front row even though we had many options.
“Lori, these are the best seats in the classroom.” Judy read my mind. “You can see the blackboard without any obstructions, and you can’t possibly miss anything the professor says because of the annoying students sitting in front of you.”
“That’s true.” I pulled out my new textbook for the class. It was a used copy in very good condition. The title said, ‘Materials Science for Biomedical Engineers’. The cover was navy blue showing an illustration of the atomic structure of a tiny piece of foam with irregular holes. On the inside of the cover, the note said that it was a piece of bio-scaffold for bone tissues.
“And that’s not the only reason.” Jody glanced at the door. “Susan’s specials someone also likes to sit in this row.” She nudged me with her elbow. A boy with moss green hair entered through the door. He glanced around the room and made his way to the same seat he sat in in the last class. It was next to Susan this time, because I swapped seats with her.
“Here’s your chance to say hi to him.” Jody whispered to Susan. “Introduce yourself.”
“No, you’re making me nervous.” Susan’s face turned beet red.
“Ok, I’ll do it for you then.” Jody offered.
“Not now! Let’s do it later.” Susan whispered.
“Why? Now’s the perfect time. Class hasn’t started yet.” Jody urged.
“No, I can’t do it now! I’m so nervous I can’t speak properly.” Susan turned her body towards us to hide her face from the guy with green hair.
“Fine. We’ll do it after class then.” Jody winked at me. I smiled at her. She reminded me of myself when I helped Linda to talk to the guys she liked. Even though none of them turned out to be her boyfriend, we never stopped our silly attempts.
“Huff! Huff! Huff!” A heavy-built man walked into the classroom. He set his black briefcase on the table in the front of the room and wiped his sweat with a baby blue Felix martin handkerchief. “Whew! Today is awfully hot for a cool September day! Please excuse my overly energetic body!” He looked around the room while opening his suitcase. “You guys look like an interesting bunch. I have to say that the Felix Martin staff are getting better at recruiting new students every year.” He took out a stack of paper and set his suitcase on the floor next to the table.
“I’m professor White. As you can see by the colour of my shirt. Hahaha!” He laughed at his own joke. “You have an option of calling me Professor White or Doctor White. Anything else is unacceptable.” His voice had a magnetic ring to it that caught everyone’s attention. His accent was the most interesting, which I later learned to be Scottich. It sounded as if he was constantly chewing something in his mouth. “And I will refer to every one of you by name. I have made it my goal to learn each of your names by heart by the beginning of next week. well, with your help, of course. The sad truth is, a man at my age can no longer achieve anything on his own, that’s why I have graduate students marking tests and doing experiments for me.” His whole body moved melodious with his voice. He reminded of a dancing elephant who moved with elegance.
“You see, when I was young, this spot here had hairs sprouting out like there’s no tomorrow.” He pointed to the area above his forehead, which is now bare and forms a hole through a large puff of silvery hair. “But before you know it, these little friends of mine decided to take a permanent vacation and never came back. That’s why I place even greater value on those who are still here to keep my good-looks going.” He patted the fluffy nest-looking puff of hair on top of his head.
“The moral of this story is, enjoy life while you’re young, because you won’t be able to when you get old!” He wiped the dripping sweat from his forehead once again.
“Ah, the pretty young lady in the front row. What’s your name?” He suddenly turned his attention to Susan.
Susan’s cheeks turned red immediately.
“Oh, don’t be shy. Your old professor needs a wee little help from his new students to remember their names.” Professor White glanced at the rest of the students sitting in the front row. “Oh, this handsome young gentleman here, with the dashing green hair. What’s your name?”
“Shane…” Shane answered with a whisper and kept his face down.
“Are the gentlemen in this class also shy like the ladies?” Professor White grinned with interest. “Shane, tell the whole class what your name is loud and clear please.”
“My name is Shane.” Shane looked straight at Professor White.
“Mr. Shane. Your full name please. Remember that you’re all preparing to become responsible adults. Now, turn around and face everyone in the class, please.”
“My name is Shane McLaren.” Shane stood facing the class for a second. He sat down as soon as he finished speaking. He was so nervous that his hands were shaking.
“Don’t sit down yet, Mr. McLaren.” Professor White placed one hand on his shoulder. “You haven’t introduced yourself to this pretty lady sitting next to you yet.”
Shane stood up and bowed to Susan. “Hi, my name is Shane McLaren.”
“What else do you say when you meet someone for the first time?” Professor White stopped Shane just as he was about to sit down again.
“Ni..nice to meet you.” Shane stuttered.
“And what do you say in return when meeting a handsome gentleman for the first time?” Professor White asked Susan, who looked like she was about to faint from embarrassment.
“Nice to you meet you too!” Susan said it so fast that her words were barely audible.
“Did you forget something? This handsome gentleman must be dying to know your name.” Professor White reminded Susan.
“My name is Susan Chung.” Susan answered with her face down.
“Great! Now the two of you have met and know each other’s names. You can shake hands and be friends.” Professor watched the two nervous students shake hands with contentment. I wondered who he was going to torture next.
“Mr. McLaren, have you met Susan’s friend yet?” Professor White continued.
Shane shook his head, still standing.
“Then take some initiative, go ahead and introduce yourself. Girls like guys who are proactive in today’s society.” Professor White winked at him.
“You…you want me to ask her now?” Shane’s words came out funny.
“Yes. Now.” Professor White patted him on the shoulder. “I’m helping you to overcome your fear of meeting new people. In my school days, everyone just introduced himself on the first day. I don’t know what’s gotten into this generation.”
“Hi, Susan’s friend. I’m Shane, it’s nice to meet you.” Shane’s entire face was red, including his ears.
“Hi, I’m Jody Ransom. Nice to meet you too!” Jody answered with a smile and shook hands with Shane. She didn’t seem nervous at all. In fact, she had a confident smile on her face.
“Did you all see that?” Professor White asked the class. “This lovely lady has just demonstrated the proper way to introduce oneself to a fellow student. Well done, Ms. Ransom. You can both sit down now.” He glanced at Jody with a big grine, then turned his attention to the back of the class. “Hmm…let’s get to know some students in the back row. In my school days, all the students who didn’t want to answer questions sat at the back of the classroom. Unfortunately, this strategy isn’t going to work on me.” He paused for a moment for effect. “The blonde gentlemen in the back row. Have you acquainted yourself with your neighbor yet?”
“Yes, sir.” The blonde guy with blue arms answered. “We met in the last class. His name is Nick Carter, and my name is Mark Winfield.”
“Well done, Mr. Winfield and Mr. Carter. You’ve set an excellent example for the other students in this class.” Professor White laughed with satisfaction. “Being friendly and proactive with your fellow classmates will certainly procure you a good future in this society.” If only he knew how those two met.
Professor White called on a few more students before he moved on to the course material. I was so afraid to be called that I rehearsed what I’d say in my head over and over again. As a result, I didn’t remember a single person’s name, except for Mark Winfield, whom Professor White called on over and over again.
“Hey Shane!” Jody said as soon as Professor White left the room after class. “It was really nice meeting you. I’m glad Professor White made us introduce ourselves in class.”
“Haha! It’s my pleasure.” Shane scratched his head nervously. “I wouldn’t want to go through all the embarrassment again though.”
“That’s what I was thinking too.” Susan added. “I’ve never been embarrassed publicly like that in my life.”
“Hey, you got to meet the handsome gentleman sitting next to you. You should thank Professor White.” Jody teased.
“Jody, you really want me to die from embarrassment, don’t you?” Susan hit Jody playfully.
“Hey, what’s your other friend’s name?” Shane looked at me.
“Oh, her name’s Lori.” Susan volunteered. “Isn’t she lucky that she didn’t get picked on today?”
“Lori, it’s nice to meet you.” Shane bowed.
“Nice to meet you too.” I bowed in return.
“You guys don’t so formal anymore. Professor White has already left.” Susan chuckled.
“Haha. Right.” Shane glanced at his watch. “If you girls would please excuse me. I have to catch a train.”
“See you tomorrow then.” Susan and Jody waved goodbye.
“See you all tomorrow!” Shane rushed out clumsily.
“Way to go, girl!” Jody gave Susan a gentle rub on the arm. “Now you know his name. What we need next is his cell number, then you two can hook up!”
“Cut it out!” Susan pouted. “I’m not that desperate to have a boyfriend.”
“Haha! Are you sure?” Jody teased.
“Of course.” Susan pouted. “Besides, it’s not befitting for girls to make the first move.”
“I’m just kidding!” Jody answered. “It looks like there’s no lab today either, do you want to go home now or hang around school for a bit.”
“Let’s go back to the University shop. I want to do look at more cute merchandise.” Susan grinned.
“Sounds good.” Jody was excited too. “Lori, do you want to come with us?”
“I think I’ll head home and get a head start on homework.” I wanted to go with them, but I’ve already spent my allowance for the whole month.
“You’re such a good student.” Jody said.
“My mom would love you if she met you.” Susan added.
“Both of you are too kind. See you tomorrow!” I parted ways with my new friends at Felix Martin. Soon, I was sitting on the train thinking about everything that happened today. The brief opening speech by Dr. Felix Martin this morning was very motivating. I shall reach for the sky, where there’s no limit! Maybe, for the first time in my life, I will actually succeed at doing something.