The Professor


Image Source: Vivian Maier

They call him “The Professor”, an’ that makes sense since he’s always talkin’, talkin’, talkin’. Don’t nobody know what his story is or what makes him spend his days standin’ on the corner an’ givin’ his lectures to nobody in particular. Some say he was in the war an’ got too close to artillery fire. Some think he lost his marbles because his wife an’ kids left him. Most all agree he should be locked up in the asylum. But I happen to know that he’s harmless.

I always set up my paper stand on the corner of 44th an’ Lex, so’s I can get the Grand Central traffic, an’ The Professor is often up at 46th an’ Lex. So by the time my customers come to me, they already got an earful. You never know what The Professor will be rantin’ about on any particular day. Some days he’s up there yellin’ about the President, an’ some days he’s going on and on about what’s playing at the pictures and how crummy the leading man is. One day he may got somethin’ to say about automobiles an’ design, an’ two days later he’ll be havin’ a fit about how DiMaggio is losin’ a step. I hear all this second hand as traffic moves south from The Professor’s corner, an’ the talkin’ about his talkin’ is always somethin’.

I said that I happen to know that The Professor is harmless. How do I know this? Well, I seen him enough on the street, an’ I talked to him a few times, see? He’s always out there talkin’, an’ I think he’s just looking for someone to talk with him. ‘Cause every time I’ve stopped an’ talked with him, it’s a genuine conversation an’ it’s very pleasant. He’s a very knowledgeable guy. I think he just likes to get going and hope that someone will stop an’ join in, an’ maybe that’s why he’s always going on about so many different things.

So maybe he ain’t a big social guy in the way that others are social. Maybe he ain’t the type that can sit on a bar stool an’ talk up the guy next to him on his own. Our friend Tiny Tom is like that, but ain’t everybody going to be like that. I can’t imagine getting’ up on a stage an’ givin’ a lecture, so I can understand where The Professor might be comin’ from. We all got our things, an’ who am I to judge?

Alls I know is that if you happen upon The Professor, you should stop an’ talk with the guy for a bit. He may look like he’s lost his marbles, but he’s alright. He’s a together guy, probably just a little lonesome. But he’s an alright guy, an’ he’s got a lot to say.

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26 comments
  1. The world moves far to fast sometimes doesn’t it. We miss the fascinating people around us, thankfully you bring them to life.

    • I do my best, ma’am. *grin*

  2. I like the conversational writing here and the way you’ve sketched this character – bringing him to life and setting up a great backdrop and feel to this piece. Enjoyed!

    • Glad to hear, thanks so much! Success!!!

  3. Paula said:

    Nice one! I like all your pieces, but the New York ones really stand out. (Yes, this comment was sent from my blasted iPhone. I finally caved in and surrendered my “stupid phone.”

    • Paula the Awesome! Thank you!

  4. Wonderful story, Brian! I suppose he is just verbalizing the rants that the rest of us keep inside :-)

    • Yeah, I’ll bet there’s a lot more Professor in all of us than we let out. *wink*

  5. This is a gem. Perfect.

    • Too kind as always, Grips.

  6. cbugginsphoto said:

    A great Piece. I discovered Vivian Maier a few months ago.Very rarely do I see pictures where you can almost hear the voices of the subjects but she managed to bag them pretty consistently. I love how you have created a character through one image : )

    • Amazing, right? I just picked up the Vivian Maier book, and it’s staggering. What an eye. What a gift for making the utterly mundane seem so incredible. All of her images speak to me. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more…

      Great having you here, thank you so much!

  7. Likin’ this a lot, see?

    • Brian Westbye said:

      Thanks for crackin’ wise with me, ya palooka!

  8. Very nice! The photograph is amazing too :)

    • Vivian Maier. Her photography is le amazing.

  9. That is a pretty great picture.

    Oh, the writing is fine, too, Brian. ;)

    • The picture makes the writing. *grin*

  10. liverloverlass said:

    So vivid and true to life.

    • As always, m’dear lass, thanks!

  11. I think we’ve all seen “this guy” in one form or another, yet you’ve done a great job of giving him an original voice through your character. Yep, ya dun real good.

    • H’ain’t it the truth?

  12. The character who intrigues me is the narrator, so voluble and folksy and insightful… Love this story!

    • Hey, thanks so much! This mug has actually made a few appearances (http://brianwestbye.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/you-get-all-kinds-here/

      http://brianwestbye.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/the-tudor/). Its always fun to bring him back and see what he knows. *grin*

      Great to be connected! Looking forward to some good back-and-forth across the wall, neighbor!

      • Just went and read the second story, and yeah, I’m liking that narrator a lot. He’s the guy I’d want to pull up next to at the bar, the kind of guy who has a story about everyone, who hardly pauses for breath as he talks…

        Neighbours? Washington State?

      • Hah! Well, my in-laws are in Seattle. “Neighbor” was a figure of speech. ;)

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