The Many Retorts of Samson

Samson makes an intelligent comeback

If I could put another section on my website, it would be “The Many Rejected Stories,” and, brothers, it would be massive. This is one such rejected story.

See, a while ago – I think my junior, senior year at UT – I was fixated on getting something published in something related to McSweeney’s. I was convinced that if “Aaron Simon” appeared in the table of contents of that magazine – or its internet offspring – would turn me into an overnight millionaire. I managed to delude myself so much that I worked it into the story “Rocks and Hot Dogs.” The first draft had a throwaway line that read something like, “He managed to make a living selling short stories.” My fiction prof at the time, Margaret Lazarus Dean, helpfully scrawled, “No, he couldn’t…” in the margin, and my illusions about writing as a way to make money money were shattered.

Anyway. During that deluge, I was writing a piece of flash fiction a day, and one of the pieces was what you’re about to read. It was rejected within a day, but, hey, their loss, right?

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This happened to me on that fateful day.

If you’ve ever sat in a university coffee shop during an exam period, then you know that they are prime examples of how land, and space, is not a God-given right.

For example: at the University of Tennessee’s Hodge’s Library, the Starbucks is the go-to place for meeting up with study groups. And, since humans are social animals, study groups may be defined as, “A group of ten people, two of whom are doing any sort of work, crammed around a very small table.” The Starbucks on campus had two types of seating: typical Starbucks tables–the small sorts of thing where even two people feel crammed together–and these incredibly comfortable leather recliners.

For the individual studier–like me–the two leather recliners were the best thing on the planet Earth. They had the feeling of being at home, but with all the environs of a sort of place where, if you weren’t doing any work, you’d feel guilty. (That, of course, didn’t stop me from people watching around 75% of the time I managed to snag a chair and their glorious ottoman counterparts.) More importantly, they were one of the few places where you could feel comfortable grabbing a cat nap in the library.

And, by and large, the people at Hodge’s kept to the rule that the recliners were to be used by one or two people at the most, but, from time to time, you’d get groups who came in and completely ignored this unwritten etiquette. From what I could tell, they were usually business students. No judgment there; I’m just making an observation. They’d trickle in, intent on working on their presentations for whatever Business Admin class that week, and then, slowly, spreading like a cancer, take over the leather recliners.

One day, as I sat in Hodges, working on an assignment for a literature class, the group trickled in and, rather than doing anything about it, I wrote this passive aggressive piece of short fiction.

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