‘Did she really do it, I cannot believe it’.
In the dimly lit coffee shop, I strained to tune in to the interesting snippet of conversation, emanating from a nearby table, as I pretended to work hard on the laptop. The thesis I had being working on, had long since bored me. I had long since lost interest in. If I was bored with it, and I the author, it certainly was not going to win any awards, or be much interest to others, especially my stern and easy to dislike english professor.
What I often wondered had even drawn him into academia, and the world of teaching, as it was more than obivious, he disliked his job with a vengeance. He disliked the students, even more. As for his work colleagues, he never had a good word to say about any of them. To himself, to his overburdened and worn out wife, who was many times, a forced reticent sounding board for all that was wrong with his life.
All his frustrations, irritations and annoyances. He may well have been an esteemed professor, praised and lauded for his outstanding work, and contributions to society. The recipient of many awards from the great and the good. From prestigious universities and organisations. His views and opinions sought by many, from media outlets to illustrious societies. But on a personnel level, he was nothing more than an immature, envious, and petty human being. Unhappy and dis-satisfied to the core. But he managed to hide it well from all but those who were closest to him.
Outwardly the surface level persona he projected was that of a well rounded individual, generous, scintillating conversationalist, gregarious, great fun. The way he interacted with others on the social circuit, those who only met him briefly, was very, very different from those who were forced to endure his less than pleasant personality on a regular basis. How any of the previous student of his managed to gain reasonable grades in their exams, with his continual sneering, critical comments of their work, was a complete mystery to me, and many others in my year. How he continued to actually be employed by University, was also a mystery. Well maybe not so, after all his small amount of fame, and very public pronouncements and media appearances, did bring a lot of good publicity to the University. Which in turn led to more student enrolments, and enquiries from pushy parents, and more money into the universities already full bank account.
The rattle of the cutlery, the noisy clacking of the cups and dishes, and the non stop gurgling and sloshing of the coffee maker, were making it quiet difficult to tune to the interesting conversation, of the nearby table. The background melodic jazz music, not helping my eavesdropping. As the conversation continued, I moved myself towards the edge of my table, along with my laptop, surreptitiously, and un-noticed hopefully, to get within earshot, of the increasingly interesting conversation. In any case it was a mild distraction from the dull and uninteresting thesis I was writing.
I briefly glanced at the two conversationalists. Slighty glamorous women, in their early forties. Bedecked with expensive discreet gold jewellery. Well cut, designer smart, expensive clothing. Make up applied with practised expertise. Healthy, large hair, recently washed, and a certain way of sitting, of moving, of watching others, that indicated a lavish lifestyle. A confidence and self assurance that only financial wealth, weather inherited or provided can produce.
‘Yes’, the blonde voluptuous lady continued, ‘it’s all over the news now, who ever would have believed, she was capable’.
‘That dowdy put upon woman’, the equally glamourous brunette replied. ‘ Ain’t life full of surprises’, and they both laughed. Their cheap hollow, cackling laughter, offering outsiders a brief glimpse into their cheap, empty personalities, that they usually managed to keep hidden from public view.
‘My husband knew him, you know. Said he was one of the nicest men he had ever met. A very interesting man. A scintillating conversationalist. Such a shame,’
‘Yes’, the other nodded in agreement, ‘Such a shame’.