The Wizard

There is a wizard in my biology class. I’m sure of it. I hate to use the word wizard, really, because of its strong association with a certain ensemble of fictional teenage heroes, but I don’t know what else to call somebody with magical powers such as his. My roommates do not believe me, of course, despite the mounting evidence in favor of my hypothesis, and they refuse to take seriously my research on the topic, but I am certain that science will eventually prove me right. I tell them to trust me. Most often, they just laugh.

When I began my third year as a biology and Spanish student here at this fine undergraduate institution, I had no reason to suspect that I would uncover a case as highly unusual as this one-and only four seats away from me every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for fifty-five minutes! After all, I had completed numerous science classes with no grade worse than a B+ and no incident more notable than one near-fainting episode during a lecture on the circulatory system. But when I marched into the classroom this fall, on the first day of Biology 221, something was different. At first, I assumed that a summer away from school had sharpened my sensitivity to the scent of formaldehyde that settled over the science building every morning. But as Professor Gutierrez called out all of our names that first day, and my eyes rested on the face belonging to the last name on the alphabetically organized roster-Lars Tomson-I nearly gasped. It was not formaldehyde in the air that September day. It was Lars.

Though I had suspected Lars had some sort of supernatural power since that very first day of our biology class, my theory was not confirmed until the second of November, when he first spoke to me in the hallway outside of the campus coffee shop. “How’s it going?” he said, in a very ordinary manner. Naturally, I opened my mouth to respond with my standard answer to that question-Great! And how are you doing?-but the words didn’t come out. Nothing did. Dumbfounded, I cleared my throat and tried again, managing a wimpy “hi” in reply before continuing my walk to the library. Initially, I assumed this incident must have been an anomaly. After all, I consistently test as 100% extraverted on the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, and my roommates frequently remind me that when I talk too much, people are prone to tuning me out. I never have trouble speaking; indeed, I have the opposite problem. But it happened again in class the next Monday when Lars asked me a question about ribosomal RNA, and yet again a few days later when he inquired about my plans for Thanksgiving break. I mysteriously lost my ability to converse normally whenever in his presence. I felt enveloped in a sort of chloroformic fog until we parted ways, and then all my faculties came rushing back. Naturally, as soon as I observed that these occurrences had become a pattern, I decided to investigate.

After a few Google searches and a bit of other relevant reading, I began to suspect that Lars possessed some sort of supernatural ability to impede the normal function and cognition of those near him. I started to realize that he might be a wizard. I knew I needed to experiment further, because I, of course, am not a witch, and therefore could not be suspected to know how these kinds of things work.

This brings me to a second subject that has me baffled. Who came up with this distinction between wizards and witches? It’s horrible, really. A wizard is a smiling bearded man with adorable half-moon spectacles who casts an occasional spell-someone like Merlin, or maybe Dumbledore, but witches are these horribly mean-spirited and frumpy old ladies who always lose-always-and they’re always ugly. I could use the word sorceress instead, I guess, but that seems pretty awful too, like a woman who hunches over some sort of foggy glass ball with a crooked wooden staff in one hand and a wild, black raven resting on the other. I really would like to ask Lars about this distinction, of course, and maybe inquire if there exists some sort of universal word for all magic-doers. I imagine he would know the answer. But I can’t do that, of course, because of his wizardlike ability to turn me mute whenever I might have the opportunity to question him. So I decided to hypothesize, observe, and record my interactions with Lars over the course of several weeks, in hopes of eventually finding answers to both of these questions.

After a month of careful experimentation and strict adherence to the scientific method, I can say with near certainty that Lars Tomson is a wizard. Hypothesis: Lars from Biology 221 is the possessor of some sort of supernatural skillset. Experiment: Observe and record my own mental and physical responses to the subject’s presence. Observations: When subject is in sight, reactions typically include, but are not limited to, loss of ability to form intelligent and coherent sentences, heightened anxiety, loss of appetite, and increased likelihood to smile or laugh in the absence of logical reason to do so. Reactions are consistently stronger when engaged in conversation with the subject. Conclusions: The subject consistently causes irrational behavior to emerge from those in his immediate presence. Though there is not yet enough evidence to say so with complete certainty, the subject is likely a wizard of some kind.

You can expect to see a published report on my findings in the near future. This discovery will likely change the course of modern science as we know it. Trust me.

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