The place is the Physics Department at my university.
The reason is an English lecture on Raymond Carver, and the ambivalence of ordinary actions in a mundane world.
The time is too early on a Tuesday morning.
The lecturer is Mr I’m Intelligent But I Don’t Use Big Words, like “ultimatum” or “tomatoes”, To Show It.
The lecture begins, taking me and my coffee-deprived mind by surprise, because it is one of those weird lectures that has no form or structure. Kind of like those paintings where you squeeze all the blue and purple paint out of their tubes, chuck in a few olives, attach it to a spinning fan for a few minutes, then sit back and go, AH. Yes. That looks like the Madonna riding a surfboard in China. Definitely.
So, the lecture itself was just strange and trippy and I was regretting my existence. Then I lifted my weary chin and looking glibly ahead of me, I noticed these three, bobbling, identical things.
They turned out to be three heads. Three friends, all lined up in a row, all with the same exact hair colour.
I turned to my mate Viv, who designs her own clothes, and holds her notepad horizontally, and I scrawled on her twisted page: CLONES.
She was like. SAD.
I was like. WORD.
She was like. INSANE.
The moment of fascination faded; I tried to zone back into the confusing heap of words and chaos Mr Usually Pretty On Top of Things was spewing out. As he stood behind the tall, sciencey counter which comes up to his hips, his hands suddenly disappeared from view…and up popped an orange pipe, looking at him with the intensity of a snake on crack.
“Oooh!” said Mr Usually Composed.
It felt like a scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Except the pipe was not an alien but just a science pipe thing, which us BA kids (and lecturers,evidently) find alarming and bizarre, and even worthy of blog mention.
He put the pipe back where he found it. I leaned back in my seat, rubbed my twitching eyeballs, and tried to believe that this was only an LSD-induced nightmare.
Except I am not the Beatles and LSD can stay the fuck away, firmly up in the sky, chinchillin’ with the diamonds, thanks.
Turning to my left to count how many other people were starting to froth at the mouth and twitch, I suddenly realised one of my classmates was busy rolling.
A bag of filters on her left thigh, a bag of tobacco on her right one, one tiny rolling paper in her hands, and already one finished ciggie for her hippie friend sitting by her. During the time Mr Tripping Hard By Now said “look a tree, sentence about society, look a squirrel on my face, syntax and politics, I like speaking in fragmented non-linear trapeziums of pain”, she had silently, deftly, professionally rolled a second, tight, little ciggie.
Viv and I sat there gasping, heads cocked to one side, eyes like O.O
She was pretty much in sight, too. Yet the lecturer said nothing. If I was him, I would have asked her to roll me a fat one.
What a weird forty-five minutes of my life.