The lecture hall cleared out after the final class before Winter break. Colby played with his beard as he watched the last few students file out.
“Dr. Kilgore, can I speak with you for a second?” he asked.
“You only have a few seconds,” said Dr. Kilgore. She stared at Colby over her glasses.
“It’s about the paper on social disorders due today.”
“May I assume yours isn’t in this pile?” Dr. Kilgore held up a stack of papers.
“That’s just it.” Colby reached into his pocket and held out a slip of paper.
Dr. Kilgore looked at the paper. “What is this?”
“A doctor’s note.”
She read it, then looked at Colby over her glasses. “And is Dr. Scholls your podiatrist?”
“It’s just a coincidence.”
“This claims you have papyrophobia.”
“Sad, but true,” said Colby, never breaking eye contact with his professor.
“A fear of paper.”
“And how is it that you were able to hand over this vital information on a slip of paper?”
“It was all I could do to keep it in my pocket. Years of therapy and medication.”
“Right,” said Dr. Kilgore. “I would imagine this would be a debilitating condition considering your academic pursuits.”
“You have no idea.”
Dr. Kilgore leaned against the lectern and stared at the ceiling. “So why wait until now to reveal this condition?”
Colby looked at his feet. “As you might imagine, there’s a lot of shame attached to my phobia. It also explains why you don’t have my essay in that pile,” Colby shuddered, “of papers.”
“Well, yes. Since you’re so clearly challenged, I can understand your predicament. Send your report via e-mail as an attachment,” said Dr. Kilgore. “Technology shall be your savior.”
Colby cringed. He reached into his pocket and handed Dr. Kilgore another slip of paper.
“Apparently Dr. Scholls has also diagnosed you with graphophobia,” said Dr. Kilgore.
“Phobia of writing,” said Colby.
“Un huh. I think I see where this is heading.”
“According to school regulations, unless special accommodations are made for any diagnosed conditions I am to be given the grad of ‘B’ or higher at the discretion of the attending professor,” said Colby.
Dr. Kilgore folded her arms. “Very clever. However, the university is also required to provide an atmosphere of physical and mental wellness for its professorial staff.”
Dr. Kilgore reached into her briefcase and pulled out her own slip of paper.
Colby read it and frowned. “What’s pogonophobia?”
“It’s a fear of beards. It’s all I can do to look at you,” said Dr. Kilgore. She glared at Colby. “You may get your ‘B’, but I still get my pound of flesh.”
Colby reared back. Wide eyed, he caressed his beard. A sly smile spread across his face. “Well played, Dr. Kilgore. Well played.”