The Genius on Campus

The King 1

We’ve all met that one kid who was smarter than everyone else. They were better at math, science, spelling bees….you name it.

My first encounter with this type of kid was from a boy named Jeff. We were in the 8th grade and Jeff wanted to be a physicist. Not only could I not spell it I hadn’t a clue what the thing was.

But in college there was a different kind of beast and he went by the name of Rich.


Allow me to introduce The King

Rich was a chemistry major. He lived quietly in my dorm directly across from my room. He was polite, he was private and you’d never see him out much unless a rerun of MASH or Star Trek was playing in the TV lounge.

Rich was a legend in the chemistry world. Not only did chemistry majors come to him with questions but teachers as well. I once heard a rumor he presented a new discovery to the science board.

Yes, Rich was the King.

But one day things changed and for a little while it was me who became the King….well, kind of.

Allow me to explain.


A Frightful Beginning

One day I saw Rich sitting on the front steps outside our dorm. It was an unusual site given how private he was.

His face was white, his eyes staring off into space. It was clear he was sweating. Did I mention it was January?

 Fearing the worst I joined him and asked if he was okay.

“No,” he answered.

He held a sheet of paper in his hand. His eyes watery. It was clear he was in full panic mode.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said.

To meet his academic requirements Rich had to take an English class. What he thought was something minor turned into his own personal hell.


The King is ill

Rich had accidently signed up for a creative writing class. The assignment: 20 page minimum fictional shorty story. To add to the horror he waited too long to change it. 

The man who many called a genius had no idea what to do. How do you make things up? How do you create people who aren’t real?

To add to his nightmare his perfect A from grade school to college was in serious danger. Something unheard of in his world.


I had an idea

I could have wished him luck and walked away but instead I asked if I could help. I explained to him one of my hobbies was writing stories. Not the real kind, I explained, but the made up kind like the one your teacher wants you to do.

For a brief second, or maybe an entire minute, I was pretty sure he thought I was crazy but once he understood I was his knight in shining armor Rich happily accepted my offer.

Rich was no dummy.


Hawkeye and Captain Kirk

Every week for the entire semester Rich and I went to work. Not surprisingly he chose a Star Trek theme with just a sprinkle of MASH.

He wrote a page. Soon two and on the day he completed ten pages you would have thought he cured the world’s ugliest disease.

His strength was plot. His weakness was people but with just the right amount of push he slowly improved.

With the final draft complete we celebrated with his first trip to the campus bar. I saw him unwind a little. His collar not so tight, an actual beer buzz taking hold.

He knew his story was not A material but I convinced him all the teacher wanted was effort and it was clear his story had it.

Back then we got our grades in the mail. I left him my number and told him to call. While enjoying spring break I received a call from a soft happy voice. He passed with an A just like I promised.

When school began Rich went back to his quiet studious self but every now and then I’d catch him with a smile and a sense of ease.

Rich was the smartest person I ever met but for a little while I was able to help the genius on campus.   



You get me

I have always been draw to things I can relate to. This includes things that are alive and things that have never been alive.

I once related to a plastic ballerina doll. Long story, don’t ask.

But when it comes to movies and books those are the ones that take center stage. They understand me. They pull me in and sometimes they become the perfect reflection of who I am or once was.



Seeing Me

When it comes to movies we all love to escape. Not every movie has to remind us of ourselves. Who doesn’t love a good action yarn?

Can you say Diehard?

Speaking of Diehard: Yes, it is the greatest holiday movie ever. Let’s move on.

But if I had to pick a favorite, a movie that perfectly reflected my past, it wouldn’t be one movie. It would be two.


Was I really that young?

Movies 1

A few posts back I mentioned a movie in passing. It was a 1985 flick called The Sure Thing and it got me thinking. The movie came along when I was young and free and open to anything. Looking at it now the main character pretty much mirrored who I was.

It was directed by Rob Reiner. A man who directed a handful of classics during his time and a director who I always felt was underrated.

Four year later in an odd sort of coincidence, another Rob Reiner film came along that had the same effect.

A little older but not exactly wiser

When I first saw When Harry met Sally I was pretty sure some of the lines were stolen from the world I was living in. The characters were a little older and set in their ways.

Had it come out a few years earlier I would have rolled my eyes but the timing was perfect. The lead character was struggling, he was kind of happy but mostly confused all at the same time.

As with The Sure Thing, When Harry met Sally was another movie that perfectly captured me at the time. It was fun but a little scary. I saw my faults on the big screen and knew it was time for a change.


A Measuring Stick

So I wonder, is this why a book or a move succeeds in our eyes? Does it all come down to timing? Does their message reflect the life we’re living or does it capture the emotion we’re celebrating or suffering?

Those two movies became a diary of my past but most of all they served as a reminder of who I am today and how much I have learned.

If any of you have a book or a movie that mirrors your past hang on to it. Go back from time to time and use it as reminder of how much you have grown. These measuring sticks are gold and they’re meant only for us.

Movie 2


Happy Friday Everyone!!!

The Great Idea


We were vacationing in San Diego when the great idea hit. As you know, when the great idea appears you grab something, anything, and write it down.

The great idea is kind of like the early stages of dating. The future is bright. Life is a musical and everybody is dancing in the rain.

This is the part where your favorite happy love song suddenly appears. Trust me on this.

But like all relationships the music slows, the honeymoon ends and she cannot understand why I want to sit on the couch all day watching football.

I’ll never understand her.


The Fizzling Romance

When I came up with the great idea I had no idea it would begin and end there. Sadly it resembled a fun summer romance full of thrills and spills that somehow fizzed by fall.

Damn you October!

I wrote a fast first draft. I ignored the plot holes, the story arc and anything resembling an ending. But most of all I ignored the characters.


You Will Listen to Me!

It was one mistake, but a mistake I have learned to never make again. Not once did I ask what the characters wanted. Thinking back it was me who told them what to do.

I didn’t worry about chemistry, character growth or the protagonist being someone to root for. Who needs that kind of nonsense, right?

The result was a flat, boring, rambling mess sitting on top of the great idea. Soon it was forgotten and lost.


Time Heals the Deepest of Wounds

idea 1

Fast forward a handful of years later, the characters returned to me. It was as if someone gave them directions to my house and now they won’t leave me alone.

But this time I listened. The great idea was set. The house was built but now they would be the ones decorating instead of me.

Now I have the chemistry. Now they are real but most of all they are taking me along for the ride which is far better than placing me behind the wheel.

We all know what happens when I drive.

Are there plot holes? Are there bumps in the road and do I complain to my writing friends about it? Of course I do. A first draft would be useless without such a thing.

But now I have real people trying to do real things.

A great idea is a relationship but unlike my first go-around this one works and I will do whatever it takes to keep it that way.

Now I know what it means to have a great idea.

idea 2