I teach a class in Creative Writing: Nonfiction at the college. This is the first time it’s ever been taught at the school; it’s the first time I’ve ever taught it, although I did take the class as a part of my master’s degree.

The class is small—only three students—all seniors and all male. Among the three, there’s only one who is an English major, but all of them are scholars and very well read in various genres. They are a joy to teach, even though it is hard to stay ahead of them—literally and literarily.

This week we were studying the “list essay” which is a rare form, but an interesting technique and literary device. As usual, I gave an in-class writing assignment for quick and critical thinking. I asked them to each make a list of 7 SIGNS YOU NEED TO TAKE A BATH. After they had finished their lists, we made a compilation of the best of their best. (By the way, I’ve begun calling this class The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.) Here’s the result of the survey:


From The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

AKA EN 354 Creative Writing: Nonfiction


  1. When there’s dirt between your toes.
  2. When your friends start to stand five feet away from you at all times.
  3. Even you smell you.
  4. When you’re on a camping trip for a week with a bunch of Boy Scouts and ¾ of the way through the week everyone seems to suddenly smell normal.
  5. When you see a couple popping each other’s zits.
  6. When Bill from accounting gives you an unsolicited shoulder rub.
  7. When your bed sheets are brown, but you didn’t buy them that way.


Seeing life through the eyes of 20-somethings is refreshing and enlightening—even if you’re all looking at imaginary bath water.

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