Chapter Description: A look back at the start of Clark's "Good Ol' Days" now that they're very much a thing of the past.
“You’re a cocky little shit, aren’t you?”
I stopped on the cobblestone courtyard just outside of the ethical philosophy building. Not five hundred feet away was the classic statue of the blind Amazon woman with scales of one hand and a cradled infant in the other. The words beneath the statue read. “Nutricor. Castigo. Protego.”
To be fair, the College of Law classrooms were at the other end of the courtyard, and the basis of law was supposedly rooted in ethics and moral philosophy. It made sense to have the Amazonian’s take on Law and Order immortalized there in the midst of campus.
To be cynical, however, every freshman had to take at least one course in ethical philosophy as a general credit, and the statue combined with the Amazon propaganda sprinkled in pretty much every course- especially the liberal arts and philosophy courses- helped remind people no matter their size who was really in charge. Say something batshit like how the giants were there “To Nurture. To Punish. To Protect.” enough times and it became harder to argue with it. It didn’t make it any easier to believe that claim, but it became harder to argue with it.
I was less cynical, back then, however. More idealistic. I knew how dangerous Amazons were but there’s something about the logical fallacy of the personal fable- that you’re going to be the immortal exception to the mortal rule- that is so damn intoxicating when you’re eighteen.
“Excuse me?” I said as I turned around. For once, my head didn’t crane up at the insult. I could tell the voice was more my level. Another Little. “What did you say?”
The girl in front of me crossed her arms over her chest and cocked her head to the side. “I said you’re a cocky shit.” she repeated herself. “That or you’re trying to get adopted. Is that it? You’re trying to get the professor to snatch you up?”
That voice. I didn’t know it then, but I fell in love with that voice. Not just the way she sounded, but the way she used it. So strong. So sure of herself. So passionate. Her yelling at me was still akin to a musical instrument. I grew to love her dark brown eyes and her light chestnut hair. I would one day get to know the curves of her body and the suppleness of her breasts. I’d spoon and wrap my arms around her waist and hold her so tight like she was a wisp of smoke that might evaporate into nothingness if I didn’t grip her firmly enough. At first she had the streak of bright red dyed into her head that she’d eventually get rid of come second semester; yet I still think of her that way.
But the first thing that imprinted on me was her voice.
I jerked my head to the side and started going for a patch of grass out of the way of the other students, about three quarters of them bigger than us. “Do you want to umm…?”
The co-ed clicked her tongue and didn’t meet me there as much as she stormed to the area. “Seriously?” she said. “What were you thinking?! Arguing philosophy with a philosophy teacher?” She wasn’t yelling. She was far from having a nice quiet chat with a classmate either.
I was unflappable. “The others were doing it,” I said. “We were doing the Socratic method. We ask questions and are asked questions in turn. And we either prove our point or are shown the limits of our thinking based on the questions that naturally arise.”
“The others were all Amazons and Tweeners.” she countered. “They can engage in debate with a professor! When you do it, you’re being contrarian and immature! It’s the double standard!”
“It’s a double standard,” I agreed, “and it’s wrong. The only way to stop it is to use its own rules against it.”
“You argued Socrates against Socrates! You tried to use Socratic method to prove Socrates wrong!”
I smirked. “Technically, I said Plato was wrong. Everything we know about Socrates we know from Plato. For all we know, Socrates was a character Plato invented to get his points across.”
The girl gritted her teeth and pulled at her hair. “That doesn’t matter, dude! You used the Allegory of the Cave to argue that there was no point in educating people since people naturally resist being taught.”
“I was just trying to force the professor to take the opposite stance. Get him to prove why education is necessary and-” I gestured to the statue in the center of everything, “why we can’t just be happy with the status quo.”
“And you’re practically begging the professor to force you into a daycare!”
Our voices were raised. Our passions were high. Had we been a bit taller or a smidge louder, we would be on the verge of creating a scene. No one took notice of the two Littles arguing just outside the Philosophy building, however. In the strangest, most anti-intuitive way we were the safest we could be.
So many Amazons, but the vast majority of them were in no way ready to start a family. Nor did they think themselves petty enough to ruin two Little’s lives just to show them who was boss. The magic of college where everyone is so self-involved and wonderfully idealistic to the point of naivete that the world outside your dorm room, class schedule, and pet causes ceases to be a concern.
In a weird way I wish we could all go back to college. College seems like a four year vacation compared to the mundane perils of everyday living.
I smoothed out my blue polo shirt; back when I could eat an entire chicken and would still be in fighting trim. If I gained any fat it’d be off before I noticed and carried like muscle instead of giving me a beer gut. I stroked my beard. It had grown in over the summer thicker than it’s usual pubescent patchiness and was a tad scraggly. I had yet to master the art of keeping it in a trim and professional goatee, or develop the careful ritual I used every morning to seem like the perfect Little professional.
Objectively, I looked like a child that had just inherited a grown-up skin, just like that movie “Bigger”. Objectively, most of the other eighteen to nineteen year olds were in the same boat. They weren’t Little, though. I was a miniature version of them, and it was the miniature part that was the problem.
“I presented my case. I kept my voice level. I phrased everything as a question. I even thanked the professor.”
“Yeah, Mr. Gibson,” she said. “But you didn’t have to say it like you’d just won..” She held herself up straighter and lowered her voice in imitation of me. “Thank you, Professor.” Yikes, did I really sound that pompous?
“Mr. Gibson?” I echoed.
“He said it often enough. He’s got your number. He’s going to spend the rest of the semester gunning for you and trying to find a reason to flunk you.” She didn’t need to tell me what would happen if I flunked. Tweeners got put on probation. Amazons could just take a class over. Littles who flunked a class, any class, would be given a very different course load.
I held up my finger and opened my mouth to make a counterpoint. What came out instead was, “Okay. Maybe you’re right.”
The girl seemed just as taken aback as I was. “What?”
“Sorry,” I kept going. “I’m just really excited. I’m finally on my own, and I have the chance to do something, to really accomplish something! I guess I’m jumping the gun.”
She seemed interested. “Political science?”
She winced. “Yikes. That’s worse in a way.”
I relaxed a bit. “Yeah. I’m kind of a masochist.” I drooped my head. “That Professor probably already has his mind made up. I gotta be more like the Third Little Pig and build with a good foundation instead of trying to rush it or take a shortcuts.”
A look of pure confusion. “Third Little Pig?”
“Yeah, the Three Little Pigs. Old folktale?”
“Don’t you mean The Two Little Pigs and Their Mommy?” she said.
I chuckled. I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t resist. “Yeeeeah, that interpretation has only been around for like, a couple hundred years or so. The original is much gorier and interesting. Also largely passed on by oral tradition from Little immigrants, so when Amazons wrote it down, they got to change the Third Little Pig into an Amazon Mommy Pig. Some scholars even think the word ‘Little’ is just talking about their relative age instead of size or ma…” I stopped myself. In Little circles ‘The M Word’ was practically a curse. “I mean, you know how the other version goes. It’s just not the original version.”
“Huh,” the girl who moments before had been yelling at me to reel it in said. “Do you want to tell me more? Over coffee?.”
My heart leapt. (Something besides my heart stood at attention, too.) “Yeah?” I asked. “Sure. Us Littles on campus gotta stick together, right?”
She batted her eyes at me. “Right.” She extended her hand. “I’m Cassandra Braun. Friends call me Cassie.”
I took her hand. “I’m Clark. You already know my last name. Nice to meet you Cassandra.”
She grinned. “Not Cassie?”
“You haven’t told me we’re friends, yet.” I replied. “I don’t want to assume anything. I gotta be careful.”
She let go and gave me her phone number. “Maybe I was wrong about you, Clark Gibson.”
The biggest, dumbest, goofiest grin that I’d yet grinned spread like an oil slick across my dumb hairy mug. “Maybe we can find out together.”
“Easy there, killer.”
I couldn’t help but awake with a profound, if fleeting, feeling of melancholy when my eyes opened up there in Beouf’s nap room an hour after Lunch.