Needing the Right Kind of Lesson

A friend of mine
Who went to college
In the late 1950s
Told me a tale
So unfathomable today, but
So entertaining
He waxed poetically
Of the day
When he started a fight
In what he thought was
His football class
The professor, a World War II veteran,
With storming-the-castle
Types of combat experience
Asked my friend to meet him
At his office in the old gym after hours
There a one-sided clarification of class rank and
A reiteration of course decorum
Was beaten into this barely out of high school
Limited life experience having

My friend, telling me the story more than fifty years
After his personal D-Day
Spoke highly of the lesson
Although he was not so appreciative
Of getting tuned up by an old man
He did, however, understand
The expectations of him
With greater clarity and respect
He held the prof with a certain esteem
Recognizing the importance of his status check

Barbaric, I know, but in that historical moment
The beat down was the tool to help my friend learn
He carries that lesson proudly
In the way he conducts himself and
In the way he treats others
Imperfect as the lesson
Impeccable as the lesson learned

Just when I think we’ve lost
Decency in our dealings
With young people
Where consequence is of little matter
I have an incident like today
Where a young lady actually said,

“I liked the homework assignment.”

She then proceeded to explain
In great detail
Why she liked the assignment
Going well beyond the information
I had provided them for resources
Her comments arrived as I struggled
With an issue in a different class and
Hit me with the same thump
My friend must have felt
When his professor
Knocked some sense into him

I’m reaching some of them.

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