Episode 24 from Hubbard, Wisconsin. “Marcus’ Incredible Distraction”

With the beginning of the spring semester at Hubbard State University, the weather has been anything but mild. After a warm November and December temperatures have dipped below zero, reminding most Hubbard residents of the “good old days” when the frigid months of January and February were to be feared. During the past two weeks the morning lows have been around -15 degrees Fahrenheit. That doesn’t mean much to Floridians, but to Hubbardites it means school busses that won’t start, water pipes that freeze and break, and no choice but to wear sweatpants, sweaters and slippers inside the house. Engineering Major Marcus Harnack is oblivious to the cold, but not because of his obsession for academic pursuits. You see, Marcus Harnack has an incredible distraction, the beautiful brown girl who works in the chemistry lab.

Marcus first noticed her two weeks ago when he was glancing into classrooms looking for his chemistry professor. There she was, working as a lab assistant for another professor. As he peeked in the door she smiled at him, her beautiful white teeth contrasted against her brown skin. Awkwardly he asked if his professor was in the classroom, only to realize the stupidity of his statement. After all, it was a small room and it was obvious that his professor was not present. While Marcus was inwardly embarrassed about this slipup, she didn’t seem to notice. Since then Marcus has noticed her around the science building, but she is not in any of his classes. He’s found out that her name is Subani De Silva, a sophomore student from Sri-Lanka majoring in Chemistry/Pre-Med. Everyone seems to like her and there is another salient fact that has come to Marcus’ attention; she is always hanging around other girls, meaning that she probably doesn’t have a boyfriend!

Subani is a bona fide distraction for the always studious Marcus. This girl is beautiful! When she walks down the hall, her dark brown hair flipping off her shoulders, it drives him mad! The problem is, Marcus is a bit shy, particularly where women are concerned. Other than his two clumsy appearances at the junior and senior prom, Marcus didn’t date much in High School. While he got along with his friends, he wasn’t part of the “in crowd” and despised the social aspects of high school. The day Marcus graduated he walked away from Hubbard High vowing never to go near the place again. Even the job at the foundry was better than High School.

Too shy to phone or speak directly to Subani, Marcus decided to take the coward’s way out and send her an email. No one will ever accuse Marcus of being an author. After writing and re-writing his email letter for over an hour, Marcus’ best, boldest, poetic effort looked like this:

“Dear Subani: You might remember a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for my professor in the chemistry class. Well, that was me, Marcus. My last name is Harnack and I’m from right here in Hubbard. I hear that you are from Sri Lanka. I don’t know much about that part of the world. Well, maybe I’ll see you around in the chemistry department soon. — Marcus”

The second after he sent the email, Marcus experienced immediate “correspondence remorse”. “That email was so dumb”, thought Marcus. ”She will never write me back.”

In her dorm Subani sits at her computer waiting for the cafeteria to open. She still hasn’t gotten that cute guy off her mind since he stuck his head in her classroom two weeks ago. She knows his name is Marcus and he is from Hubbard. Someone told her that he works in a foundry. Her parents would die if they knew she was even on speaking terms with a foundry worker. In Sri Lanka, medical doctors, scientists and engineers would be the only acceptable courtship candidates for a De Silva daughter. Suddenly Subani’s computer beeps and she goes to her email. She reads the note from Marcus and her heart leaps with excitement! She stands up from her chair, no longer hungry. “Oh, my God, he knows I exist! What am I going to do now?” she exclaims.

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