Melvin Haggins, Part III: College Student and Lady’s Man
Melvin Haggins: Installments 1-2 & 4-5
Note from Author
This is Part III of the 5 part Melvin Haggins comedy. As mentioned in earlier excerpts, it is a fictional story set in real locations and written in a faux-journalistic style.
In this installment Melvin leaves home and experiences his sexual awakening.
An excellent tool for any writer
Prompts are an excellent way to generate ideas
Melvin Leaves Mom and Dad
Graduation quickly approaching, the choice of a college had to be made. With the Vietnam War raging, even Beatrice was now a proponent of Melvin’s matriculation. As she would often tell him, “Better to be a live coward than a dead hero,” an insightful quote that she had picked up somewhere.
Although there was still some friction regarding Thad’s aspirations for Melvin and Melvin’s own singular goal of becoming an internationally acclaimed writer, Thad would not push the argument. He felt Melvin had a better chance of success in college and avoiding the draft if he chose a path he was interested in.
It is not known why Melvin chose to attend Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma, some two-hundred plus miles away from Wilburton. Perhaps it was because Melvin wanted to be off on his own, and that was as far as would be allowed for.
It is known that neither parent was excited about this decision, especially Beatrice, who wanted Melvin nearby. But because it was so important to Beatrice and Thad that Melvin avoid the war, both parents eventually conceded the argument, and after an awkward prom Melvin attended with a girl who had no other options and couldn’t say no for the risk of seeming impolite, and a boring, long graduation ceremony of no real note, Melvin was off to Weatherford, Oklahoma.
College: Where Attendance, Punctuality, and Good Grammar do not Equal Ability
At Southwestern Melvin maintained his record of impeccable attendance, and because there was no major specific to internationally acclaimed writer, Melvin chose the related field of English education.
At the small university academic rigor was more stringent than at Wilburton Public Schools, and whereas he garnered good marks at the latter, at Southwestern it would be a constant struggle to pass.
Professor Janice Faldon relates:
“He was a voracious writer. He drove many of us half-crazy trying to get us to read this or that project he was working on. Melvin’s drive was remarkable, and his production staggering, but it was just never very good.
It was competent, I suppose, for just an average student, but it wasn’t up to snuff for someone majoring in the field of English.
Melvin was a kind person, impeccable attendance, but always on the cusp of failure, yet none of us could ever quite bring ourselves to fail him.”
Below is a persuasive essay written by Melvin while attending Southwestern:
Racism is Bad
Some individuals think it is good to be racist. Other individuals think it is not. In this essay, those who believe racism is good will be persuaded to understand that it is not. This will be done by covering the topics of slavery, racism in the personal life, and racism in the workplace.
Slavery was an awful thing that happened in early America. White people wanted to make a lot of money. White people did not want to have to spend a lot of money for work. As a result, white people made black people do all the work for free. White people were quite mean to the black people that made them all this money. The point that one can make more money if one has workers work for free can be conceded, but it is unjust to not pay people for work and be mean to them. That is why there was a Civil War. The Civil War made it so white people could not own slaves. This supports the thesis that racism is bad.
Some individuals are only racist at home and with their friends. This is still wrong. It can be conceded that if one is only racist at home it is not as bad as being racist away from home, but it is still bad. One should not do it. Racist people often join the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan is bad. The Ku Klux Klan hurts individuals both mentally and physically. It is not right to be mean to someone because of the color of one’s skin. It is also not right to do this to any individuals. Members of the Ku Klux Klan should either quit being mean or give up the organization completely. The fact that the Ku Klux Klan is mean supports the thesis that racism is bad.
Black people cannot get jobs like white people. This is caused by racism. White owners will not hire black people, or white owners give blacks jobs that are not as good and pay them less. It is not possible to concede any point of racism in the workplace. A black person can do anything that a white person can do. Black people are very good at athletics, singing, and dancing. Jackie Robinson, Aretha Franklin, and Sammy Davis Jr. support the thesis that black people can do anything and racism in the workplace is bad.
It is now clear that racism is bad. This essay has discredited racism in terms of slavery, racism in the personal life, and racism in the workplace. There are probably even more reasons why racism is bad. Now racist individuals are persuaded to not be racist individuals.
Melvin the Social Activist
Like his father, Melvin had an aversion to the meanness of racism. He would continue to write essays denouncing the evils of racism throughout his life, none of them much better or worse than the one featured above.
He was a progressive during a time and at an age when it was hip to be progressive. He was not particularly brave or publicly outspoken about the topic, but he was a member of A World of Many Colors, an anti-defamation group founded by students at Southwestern.
Sam Reynolds, friend and member of A World of Many Colors, gives the following account:
“Yeah, Melvin didn’t like racism. He wanted change. He never missed a meeting. He didn’t take part in any of the hardcore stuff, though, pickets and whatnot. I got the sense Melvin didn’t like confrontation. He loved being in the group, though, always reading his essays at meetings.
They were painful to listen to, dull. His heart was in the right place, though. We’d all just grit our teeth and clap when he was done.”
Melvin: Easy Rider
It is also while at Weatherford that Melvin first became sexually active. It was a relationship that would be the closest think Melvin would ever know to romantic love. Sam elaborates:
“I remember tellin Melvin about the whorehouse over in Clinton. All of us guys at least knew of it. Fair to say most of us wound up there at one time or another. Melvin acted totally disgusted by the idea of it. He rarely even said a cuss word. It was pitiful to see him even try to talk to a girl.
Well, a few months after I’d told him about the whorehouse, me and some of the other fellas got drunk and ended up in Clinton. There was Melvin, hidin his face, trying to act like he didn’t see us. Asked one of the girls, turns out he was a regular. There every Thursday night at six O’clock without fail.
Funny thing is later we would always razz him about it, and he never once admitted he was there. He just kept on with his act of ‘Prostitute! I just can’t believe anyone actually does that sort of thing!’”
Do you often have trouble finding inspiration?
Former prostitute Vicki Riggs gives the following account:
“I remember the first time he came by. He looked so out of place, could barely speak. When we walked out, he kind of nods towards me. From then on he always chose me. When I got older and most the other girls were younger and prettier, he still chose me. After I was no longer in the game, he shows up at my house that next Thursday, and I figure, what the hell, if he’s payin.
Melvin was a sweet guy. He was never mean with me. Always just some half and half, nothing hardcore or weird, and he didn’t have the goods or staying power to do no harm no how. It was quick, easy money.
I remember that first Thursday he didn’t come by my place. Found out he was in the hospital. So I just went and visited, did what I could for him, but his stuff didn’t work good because of all the chemo. He’d offer to pay, and I’d tell him he could settle up when he got better.
Yeah, I liked Melvin. Not the type of guy any girl dreams of marryin, but I miss him now he’s gone.”
Is Melvin more funny or tragic?
Melvin Haggins: Chapter IV
- Melvin Haggins, Part IV: Teacher and Member of The Forlorn Writers Group of Western Oklahoma
Part IV of the "Melvin Haggins" comedy, in which Melvin joins the workforce and finds friends in a writing group.