Psychology 101

December 12, 2008
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“It all began with a whisper. Just that. As they’ve said before it might have been the whisper of a thrill, or many other dangers yet to come. Be it as it may, you hear the gentle tickling in your ear, and something in your nervous system goes numb. The synapses that are failing to send impulses to your ear begin to collapse, if only for a while. There are no chemical reactions occurring at this precise moment.

“There are certain places in the world where time appears to have halted. Where the stench of decay and decomposition are missing, and the air seems to be perfect for just one fraction of a second. They are all over the place, the little droplets of magic and nobody can tell you that they are there. You need to see them and smell them for yourself. You need to let your senses drop, if only for a while. Let your guard down. You are in a safe place. The magic needs to envelope you, skim your body, taste your skin. And even though you are not really conscious of what you’re feeling, for one second, magic speaks to you. Only so very quietly. She whispers into your ear. She speaks of excitement, buzz, a certain bleak naïveté to her tone. You know it can’t possibly be true. It is unfathomable.

“There are some who don’t hear it. You need to really believe in magic. Strain yourself to barely seize the meaning of her words.

“And it is for this reason that these corners are magical. Because the fingerprint of humanity has yet to lay its smudge on them. The scum that inhabits every other curve in our small globe is seldom seen in places like these. Specifics are irrelevant. The few people who actually hear the whisper need to have a total and utter upheaval in their life; there is a point of no return where even the devil might speak to you and you will listen.”


Oh popsicle sticks.

I woke up ten minutes late. The alarm had been buzzing under my thin pillow, and yet my subconscious refused to accept the fact that I needed to get up. It’s just another ten minutes, reasons your brain. But now, I can’t blow dry my scalp and I will have to resort to a simple head band to keep in place what can only be referred to as my hair. You could go far enough to call it a statement.

Putting badly worded sentences aside, I ran for the door and slammed into my car. The ignition slowly creaked to a satisfying purr. As my complete lack of dexterity prevents me from driving a mechanical car, I must humiliate myself in an ivory Mazda 3. I will be driving to class through ten minute smog and then, I will be forced to endure a teacher who swears she can hear voices.

It has been a week of nonsense. As I began my second semester in college, my new schedule plastered over my agenda, I began to hope that this semester might have been slightly more enthralling than the first. Early on in my life I realized I would study psychology. The main attribute to my decision is probably my schizophrenic friend, Chris. His family never treated him; urban myths and peer pressure convinced them that being a schizoid has only one cure: time.

So I looked for answers, and to my huge surprise, there were none. Oh, another person who can’t cure schizophrenia. How very puzzling.

The main interest I hold in the brain is in the premise that it will never be understood. It is a challenge to most middle-aged men, let alone a college brat who barely made it past her first semester. If I can somehow tip the scales, and achieve a small inch of progress towards reaching the goal of one day appreciating the complex labyrinths of the human brain, then I will die a happy death. The only other way to attain peace, of course, is if my Sociology teacher accidently falls off a cliff.

So, after wandering a few paragraphs off topic, I will return to Madame Bouvie. A French lady who grew up as an army brat, visiting places like South Africa, Burma, Kashmir, and all the other black holes of the world. She has spent five days convincing us that beautiful places can only be found in the middle of chaos. She speaks of things that she herself has ever experienced; only the mentally damaged can know this certain supernatural-ness.

Or however she puts it.

Truth be told, three of the five days I didn’t listen. I was inside my own little world, allowing myself to venture into the world of the bizarre. Puzzling over how a dyslexic mind views images, making an effort at answering my qualms concerning OCD. Half a year of crazy talk, and all I’m interested in is seeing mentally unhinged people in action.

If the board heard me, they’d have my neck. Never mind Madame Nicolette Bouvie.

Born the 3rd of November in a hotel near the outskirts of Paris. Sheloves the fact that her family is not affluent. She shows off her lack of wealth as if it were a Gucci purse. I wonder how the woman has gotten through life. Maybe my words don’t paint the right picture, but there is a term for people like that.

It’s not annoying, that’s usually done on purpose. It’s not happy; the woman radiates utter euphoria. It’s something else…



I rush into class, aware that the bell rang five minutes ago. Madame B does not look up from her small desk. Surprising. She has taken a new tactic, or maybe will torture me with this later on. There is something going on in her mind. This isn’t normal. Must find out what is going on.

I run to the nearest seat, sling my tote onto the cheap plastic, take out my notebook and pretend to be taking notes. Two minutes into my deep pretending, I realize nobody else is taking notes. I look around the room. Everyone is just staring at their desk. My eyes slide to the other side, where my teacher sits upon her desk, and here’s the punch line: she too is staring at her desk.

My mind splits. Half is curious and half is puzzled. What new oddness has the teacher concocted?

Finally, I summon all my courage and speak up.

“Excuse me professor, but what exactly is the assignment for today? I am a bit confused.”

Madame Bouvie does not look up for a few minutes. She finally lifts her head, and her red mouth parts into a lopsided smile. Her white teeth dazzle me, but I’m not convinced. She laughs, at me I think. Instantly I am irritated. So early and already my mind is harboring ideas on how to plan the soon to be accidental death of Nicolette Bouvie.

“What’s your name?” I am not offended; we are 163 students in this class alone.


“Short for Charlotte, I presume?”

“No. My mother had a touch for making someone feel absurd. Charlie always.” Always keep the teachers in check with a little cheek, even if it does mean insulting your border-line psychotic mother.

“Very well Charlie. Yes, I think you Americans call this exercise visualization. You will stare at your desk and convince yourself that it is sand.”

A giggle accidently escapes my throat. She notices. Her eyes sharpen, and the smile wears off.

“If you do not agree with the exercise you are welcome to leave.” She rolls her R’s heavily. Her tongue seems to be lolling ever so often; I can barely stand her accent.

“No, professor. I just would like maybe a small, little, tiny explanation as to why we-uh- are doing this.” My voice falters halfway through.

“Does it really matter?” Her condescending drawl is tagging on my nerves. I decide, as the mature adult that I pretend to be, that I will give into this nonsense, if only to comfort the plump woman in the ridiculous magenta suit.

Half an hour into the block and I still can’t see a single grain of sand. She is definitely messed up.

I concentrate harder; the class has been in perpetual silence since my short exchange of words with Professor B. The desk is still brown. The desk is still brown. I am slowly losing my patience, and with an accelerated breathing tempo, I murmur, mostly to myself, Goosfraba, Goosfraba, Goosfraba, and so on.

And now, I cannot take it anymore. I stand up and slowly make my way to the exit, hoping for a repercussion, but the French oddity says nothing. She is still looking for the sand.

Now, I now what I am doing is wrong. I can’t walk out on her. Instead, I kind of stand near the door, kicking my shoes together, in what I can only imagine as an indignant pose.

“What now, darling?” She has called me darling. Last straw.

“Well, Professor Bouvie, see the thing is, my parents pay a lot of money to have me come study, not stare at a stupid desk so I can see sand.” Sand, I ask you. I cannot believe the words that are leaving my mouth.
“Ah yes. Well, is this technique not up to your standards?”

“No, but, it’s that, I mean… OKAY. I cannot see the sand. I don’t understand.”

“So this is personal?”


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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Lo said...
Dec. 29, 2008 at 6:48 pm
Loved Madame B's profile!
MX said...
Dec. 29, 2008 at 9:21 pm
Tu cuenot esta increible y como hondurena y como tia tuya me siento muy orgullosa. Vos cais no me conoces pero soy tia de tu mami y Prima d etu abuelita Ana Maria.

La verdad me fascino, ojala me manden otros que escribas. Manteneme al tan to. Vas a llegar muy lejos.

Emelisa Callejas (emix)
Whoper said...
Dec. 30, 2008 at 12:23 am
This is showing a great potential, with an inclination to a sophisitcated style which may not be to the liking of simple readers, yet the contents are deep, may a little disorderly.
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