2020 – The One That Got Away (thanks to a small-minded professor)


(Ignore April 30, 2017 publish date – this was published on November 13, 2020)


NOTE: there are NO pictures in this one! Sorry.


I’m not sure why I’m writing this. This story rumbles through my mind every few years, so maybe I’m trying to get it out of my head for good. Speaking of “good”, no other good will come from this because the story is almost 50 years old, so there won’t be any happy ending.

It began in the Fall semester of 1971 at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ. I was a hippie freak chemistry major who had an Afro, wore VERY-patched jeans and an old denim jacket with a big US flag on the back where a peace sign replaced the stars.

One day, I saw the most stunning woman I have ever encountered. She was beyond beautiful and had the most incredible figure I had ever seen. She wore expensive-looking clothing that covered everything, yet fully showed off that figure to maximum advantage.

What was this absolute goddess doing on the Bergen Community College campus? (uh, she was a student, dumbass).

Being a fairly confident raggedy hippie freak, I summoned up the nerve to approach her one day. Would it surprise you to learn that I could not get so much as the time of day from her?

I spent the rest of that semester trying to control my drool flow from afar.


The Spring semester was my last one before graduation and I carried a monster load, course-wise: Instrumental Analysis, Organic Chem II, Technical Writing and a couple others I don’t recall.

Guess who wound up in my Technical Writing class? Rather than continue to refer to her by her appearance, let’s just call her “Jade” (definitely NOT her real name).

I usually sat in the back of the class, which came in handy in this one because the TW professor tended to make somewhat outrageous statements and I tended to make somewhat quiet comments on them, but not at class-clown level.

The prof must have had her hearing aid turned all the way up one day when I made a semi-innocent comment. She stopped what she was doing and demanded that I immediately move to a seat right next to her desk up front.

Omigod! What would Jade think? I’m not exactly helping my cause here.

The prof changed her class-questioning M.O. to “Mr. Leafe” questioning. What she didn’t know was that I was a good student who wound up getting the school’s Award in Chemistry for having the highest GPA.

I was prepared and answered all her questions correctly. She took notice and her attitude seemed to change.

She wasn’t the only one.


A certain JADEd figure suddenly started giving me the time of day that I had previously not been able to extract from her. She had a thing for scholastic ability!

We started talking more, but she was still pretty guarded when it came to providing personal information. I think I found out what her hometown was, but not where she currently lived. The way she acted, she might have been married.

One way to find that out was to ask her out. She declined, but not in a slam-the-door-shut manner………….so I persisted. And she resisted, but always with a small smile on her face.

It was getting close to the end of the semester and graduation…………time for one BIG final push.

Her answer THIS time surprised the hell out of me. She AGREED to go out with me…………but with a catch – a rather large catch.

She said she would go out with me if I got an A in every one of my difficult courses.


I have to explain here how BCC let you know your grades back then. After all final exams were done and graded, the school posted everyone’s final grades on a bulletin board for all to see. Everyone had to drive to the school and find this bulletin board. There was no way to lie about my grades (not that I needed to).

Boy, did THAT give me incentive to do well on finals!

I breezed through all of them and was supremely confident on grade-posting day. Finally – the girl of my dreams – beautiful AND brainy………….and seduced by intellect…………would go out with me.


I approached the board, searched for my name and read the results:















What the hell? I got a B in Instrumental Analysis?


How could that be? The final was easy!


I was FURIOUS and ran through the building searching for the instructor. I found her in a classroom, sitting at her desk facing a student-less room.

“Mr. Leafe……..what can I do for you?”

“You can start by telling me how the hell I got a B!”

“I have the graded exams right here…………here’s yours. You got one wrong.”

(As I recall, there were very few questions on the test. One wrong got you a B.)

I went through the math and could find no mistake. I asked her what the correct answer was.

She told me.

“That’s exactly the number I arrived at!”

“Coincidence. You did it wrong. You didn’t use the one formula that gives the correct answer. It can’t be done any other way.”

“It was simple! I solved it using proportions!”

She laughed. ”You cannot solve this problem using proportions.”


I practically dragged her up to the blackboard and made her go through EVERY step of the entire solution using proportions.

She got the same answer.

She changed my grade to an A………………….WAY too late to matter, though.


I never heard from Jade again. In her eyes, I failed the test. There was no way to tell her about the pig-headed professor who didn’t believe there was a simple way to solve a supposedly difficult problem.

I was left to hope that Dream Girl had reason to visit the bulletin board again, but who was I kidding………………

I gave it my best shot and was stymied by something that was so unfair, but also so out of my control.


Decades later, I looked up Jade online – not to try to hook up, but just to tell her the story – and thought I might have found her: same name, science professor at a local college………….that fits so far.

I dug deeper. I found something about how students grade professors at that school. Surely they’d all say nice things about her, right?

“Knowledgeable professor, but I couldn’t get past that accent.”

Wrong person – I give up.


One minor consolation: The Technical Writing professor told me that I earned the only A in the class, which means Jade got a B! By her standards, I couldn’t possibly go out with someone who didn’t get all A’s, so adios, gorgeous!




  1. Antoinette November 13, 2020

    Wow, what a story. You should write a “what if” sequel!

  2. Paul Kibbe November 17, 2020

    Great story. Took me back to the college days and the daily pursuits of a 20 year old.

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