Pete Riebling :: Friendlessness ::

Flash Fiction

Southern Legitimacy Statement: went to college in Atlanta…


I went to college with a guy who was a little more intelligent than the professors he studied under. Not more intelligent. Savvier. He was able to figure out what they wanted and deliver it in exchange for a high grade and a metaphorical pat on the back. A comment written at the top of the first page of the paper he’d submitted. Excellent! Well done! Some such praise and approval. Although the strategy was successful in terms of garnering a practical outcome, he felt a little unctuous because he knew it wasn’t true to the spirit of academic pursuit. What the devil am I talking about? Here’s a specific example. He told me he often started essays by quoting a definition of the assigned subject matter or topic. The ninth edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines irony thusly: “the use of words to….” Or replace irony with capitalism or whatever. The well-worn construction seemed to augur an intention to look with fresh eyes, to remind one of the putative meaning before delving into its complexities and complications. At any rate, I went to college. Graduated. Grew up. Entered the workforce, raised a family. In my spare time, I write volumes and volumes about the theme of friendlessness.