You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.
So here I am to try, and to fail, so I can learn.
Paul Fail. For The Win!

10 February 2012

#FridayFlash: Ritual

#FridayFlash: Ritual
©2012 D. Paul Angel
695 Words

Morning, 6:34am. Lecture 14 at 9am, Lecture 28 at 1:15pm, and then 2 hours and 20 minutes of Office Hours. Blanket thrown back left to right and then the edge returned after to be perpindicular with the bed. Slippers on, first the right foot, then the left. Still just cold enough for a robe; left arm through, then the right. Tie the robe with a half hitch, ending with the loop pointing to the left.

11 steps to the kitchen. Coffee filters in the drawer, grounds in the freezer. The scoop isn't on its peg. Dammit. Retrieve it from the gadget drawer.  Supposed to be on the peg.  Have to remind wife.  Again.  Four scoops of coffee, water in the carafe until the meniscus is touching the middle of the bend in the "5."

With the coffee brewing it's time for the first treat of the day. Coarsely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. Right hand takes a handful, left hand places the bag on the counter, resting it against the tile backsplash so it doesn't spill. Transition the cheese to the left hand and then eat over the sink.

Inhale deeply with satisfaction.

Cheerios next. The orange scoop. One full cup, then a second partial cup, but only up to the scuff in the plastic. Milk in the medium crystal glass, poured until just below the top of the vertical decorative cuts. Mouthfuls of cheerios with the left hand, swigs of milk with the right hand.  The Cheerios are gone, but there's just enough milk to reach the lowest most of the horizontal cuts in the glass.

Second treat, Oreos. Five of them. The first eaten whole. The next two each have a cookie removed and then are pushed together on the fourth to make a triple decker. The last whole is consumed with a swig of milk. The two free cookie halves are eaten, one at a time. Then, the triple decker is eaten, washed down with the remaining double shot of milk.

Audible satisfaction.

Coffee poured into the Starbuck's Venti travel mug. Two shots of Bailey's and a shot of Jameson make the coffee the third treat, which is now only a Guiness away from perfection.

Walk to the lecture hall, briefcase in left hand, coffee in the right.  Arrive 7 minutes early. Open the briefcase on the desk. Water bottle out onto the podium next to the notes.  Niether will be touched, but are still required.  Just in case. PowerPoint cued, clicker ready. Chat with students till 1 minute after 9am.

Begin the lecture. Finish, uninterrupted, with 22 minutes for questions. Leave class for office after exchanging 3minutes of pleasantries with the lecture hall's next Professor. Grade papers for Sections 5A (Lectures 10-13) and 5B (Lectures 24-27), then continue research.

Lunch: an orange, cut across its equator. Two more cuts across its latitudinal axis, 90 degrees apart. The eight slices arranged on the paper towel, itself aligned parallel to the edge of the desk, into a grid that's 3x2x3. Next, a sandwich cut in half, diagonally; with 4 slices of turkey and 2 slices of ham; 1 leaf of lettuce, 2 slices of tomato and 1 slice of pepper jack cheese; with mayo on the top slice and coarse ground deli mustard on the bottom. One 20oz Coke Zero, 4oz to start the lunch, then another 4oz after the orange, 2oz after each half of the sandwich, and the remaining cup after the 17 Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.

A knock on the door.


Not posted office hours, no meetings scheduled, and lunch time! Handle turns, the door's unlocked! Panic swells: hands clammy, adrenalin surges, heart races. Door swings open and...

Student face appears.  Relief.

"Oh, hey, Professor? Sorry to interrupt your lunch. I just, I- I get the rituals the tribes use, and I understand how they use them; I just, I just don't really get why those Tribes developed all those rituals in the first place?"

"Because their primitivity demanded it, of course. Unlike ours, theirs was a world beyond their comprehension. That is why civilized humanity has effectively dispensed with ritualitic mechanisms."


  1. Wow, talk about practicing what you preach.

    Some people find great comfort in their life's rituals, and the familiarity of them, and tend to panic if they are forced to step outside of their comfort zone.

    1. Thanks for the comment Steve! I agree, I think all of us have our rituals, it is just whether or not we recognize them as such.

  2. I think the word in his case, isn't so much "ritual" as "neurosis." :-)

    Nice peek into a mind that seems to have lost its ability to process new input!

    1. Thanks Larry! I think "neurosis" is a fine descriptor of our good Professor. I am also fascinated to know what taking a class from him would be like!

  3. Wow. At first I was thinking he was blind with so much focus on how things felt and where things are supposed to be, then I thought Asperger's or OCD. Flow worked well for the purpose, pulled us in nicely.

    1. Thanks for the comment Beverly! I am glad to hear that the flow worked. It was one of those things that seemed to work for me, but having never really tried a story like this I had no idea if it would work for anyone else. I am relieved :-)

  4. Ritual as a means to cope in a world beyond comprehension. I like it.

    1. Thanks Tim! You know I actually wasn't considering that as I wrote it, but in hindsight it makes absolute sense. It "felt" right, but I'm glad that there's more to it to make it so. I very much appreciate the insight :-)

  5. LOL I smiled all the way through reading this! ^__^ I second what Tim said - I like it!


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