040 - spark luck
"Professor Grinton, I have a question," the girl in the front row said, as if her raised hand was not also indicative of this fact. But perhaps she was growing impatient. Professor Grinton, for his part, seemed to be trying his hardest to delay acknowledging her raised hand.
But now, at this verbal cue, he could no longer ignore her. "Yes, Melanie?" he asked, with only the slightest hint of exasperation rolling off his tongue. The other students rolled their eyes. She was oblivious to this fact.
"What about the Peloponnesians?" she asked, honestly and innocently, completely unaware of the various gripes and groans that rang out from various corners of the lecture hall before she had even finished her question.
The professor rolled the chalk around in his hand. He could have been contemplating how to answer. He could have been contemplating crushing it in his fist to try and suppress his anger. Or perhaps he would finally let his anger unleash itself, and he would choose to simply wing the piece of chalk right at poor, little, innocent Melanie.
He didn't do either of those things, though. He just paused, momentarily clenched the chalk and asked, "What?" His words rolled out slowly, "What do you mean, 'What about the Peloponnesians'?"
His words, although not really saying anything, were deliberate and careful, as if they were arrived at after much laborious consideration.
Melanie did not skip a beat, and responded quickly. "I mean, you talked about the potential effects on the culture of Greece as a whole, but the Peloponnesians specifically, you don't say what would happen to them."
Professor Grinton did not betray one ounce of his irritability at her questions, especially as she elaborated and dug herself deeper into a well of pointless stupidity. At least not consciously through facial or bodily reactions that he could control. He sometimes wondered if there was some other visual indication. Perhaps a vein bulging on his forehead, waiting to burst as more dreadful words just poured out of her mouth.
Yet, if there were any cues for Melanie about her constant disruptions in class, and how much they irritated everybody, she certainly wasn't taking them. Every class, she was cheerier than ever, armed with a headful of new diversionary questions that could only exist in the mind of someone who either just enjoyed hearing herself talk, or was just plain stupid. Or both.
The gray-haired professor considered what it would take to even get her to stop. If he just plainly called her out on the inanity of her question, if he just flat-out insulted her, would that be enough? "Melanie, that question is fucking pointless and in the future I need to ask you to kindly just shut the fuck up," is what he imagined he might say.
Would that stop her? Maybe. But he conceded that he would most likely never know, since he would never risk himself any trouble by saying anything like that, and it seemed unlikely that any of the other students would, either. Not if they hadn't already.
That was the problem with today's society, no one was willing to have a little courage at the risk of personal expense, and call someone else out on their bullshit. But then the professor realized that perhaps he had been musing on this topic in his own head for a little too long, and that he should say something and move on in his lecture.
"Well, Melanie, I think it's safe to say that whatever consequences would lay in store for the rest of the Greeks would also apply to the Peloponnesians," Professor Grinton said, in a courteous voice.
"I see," Melanie replied, with a happy, satisfied smile on her face.