Doctor Ashton Kutcher, PhD, tenured professor of Real Physics, was wearing his corduroy jacket and his Coke bottle glasses because he was a real professor, a real smart professor. He leaned back in his chair which was old and wood and creaky but also surprisingly comfortable, and was Walt Whitman’s chair before he died, and looked at all of the books on his bookshelves, each of which was very long, and he’d read all of them from beginning to end and knew what they meant and had a photographic memory. Science. The leather patches on Ashton’s corduroy blazer were on the elbows, because it was a regulation blazer. A cup of tea steamed at the corner of his tea-stained desk blotter. Novelty size bust of Freud with all kinds of pens and pencils sticking out of the top, also being used as a paperweight to hold down the latest draft of his report that he was going to submit to all the best journals. Yes, a real professor, this one. Noises from “the quad” filtered up through the casement windows. “Ah, important learning,” professor Kutcher sighed, thoughtfully, which was how he did everything, with great thought. “I love ideas!”
A student knocked sheepishly against the pebbled glass of his office door. “Come in, son! Come in, scholar!” professor Kutcher chortled wryly.
The college student sat down in a chair facing professor Kutcher and rubbed his palms against the legs of his jeans. College students often had very sweaty palms, either because they were nervous, or hormones, or both. At least, that was what professor Kutcher had noticed, and written his thesis on. Professor Kutcher folded his hands across the buttoned folds of his cardigan (under the blazer, classic professor gear) and looked deeply into the student’s eyes. How wonderful it would be to be able to impart knowledge simply by gazing into another’s eyes. ALAS! The student seemed nervous to begin the conversation, so professor Kutcher smiled gently at him.
“What can I do for you, Nathan? Is it about the exam? Or your grades? Perhaps there is a complicated theorem that you are stuck on? You know, when I was your age, I used to write math problems on the window with a white grease pencil. Have you tried that? You might find that it helps. I’m a real professor. I’m very smart.”
Nathan stared at his shoes for a moment and then mumbled his question. Professor Kutcher cupped his hand to his ear and leaned forward over his desk.
“What’s that, son? Speak up! Go on, make yourself heard!”
“What’s Jessica Simpson like?”
Professor Kutcher leaned back, puzzled.
“You know, from that stupid movie you were in. Going to Vegas or something?”
Professor Kutcher nodded, trying to help his young ward work his own way through the problem. He didn’t like forcing information on his students, better that they arrive at their own conclusions through their own logical processes. “I believe you’re thinking of the movie What Stayyyyyyyyy” he waited for Nathan to finish.
“Oh right,” Nathan let loose with nervous laughter. “What Happens in Vegas. Haha. Sorry, Professor. But, so, what was she like? Jessica Simpson I mean.”
“Jessica Simpson wasn’t in What Happens in Vegas, Nathan.”
“Hmm,” Nathan said. He was going to worry a hole in the thighs of his jeans. “Are you sure? I’m pretty sure she was in that. It was really stupid. I watched half of it on cable and then turned it off, and you know, college kids will watch pretty much anything, so it must have been pretty bad.”
“Quite certain, my dear boy. But let’s think this thing through. Jessica Simpson has only been in four movies: The Dukes of Hazzard, where she made her big screen debut. Employee of the Month with Dane Cook and Dax Shepard. And Blonde Ambition and Major Movie Star, both of which were direct to DVD.”
Nathan furrowed his brow. Professor Kutcher waited patiently as Nathan tried to puzzle the thing out. Finally, he decided to give a little nudge.
“Who is another actress, Nathan, not Jessica Simpson, although also blonde, mostly, who has been in quite a few more than four movies. I’m sure you know her name, Nathan. You can get there. She’s a little older than Jessica Simpson, and if you were to think of the two of us together in a romantic comedy you would insist that we couldn’t possibly have any chemistry together.”
“You’ve struck upon it!”
“What’s she like?”
“She’s nice. I don’t know. We mostly made small talk. We’re both VERY stupid.”
Nathan stood up and left, making way for the next student, who would spend 20 minutes asking Professor Kutcher questions about the Director’s Cut ending of Butterfly Effect in which Ashton Kutcher’s character went back to his mother’s womb and choked himself to death with his own umbilical cord. The whole reason Ashton Kutcher got into teaching in the first place was with the idea that if he could just change one young person’s life for the better, it would all be worth it. And when that day finally came, it was going to be great.