I Guess He Wasn’t Hungry Like The Wolf

, , , , , | Friendly | July 20, 2020

I witnessed this in the 1980s. Back then, “urban tribes” were a much more important thing than now. Either you belonged to a group or you didn’t, but if you did, there was a very specific code for how to dress and what to listen to. The three classmates in the story are all “paninari,” wearing colourful clothes of designer brands.

Classmate #1: “Hey, mate, do you like Dire Straits?”

Classmate #2: “Of course, I do! They’re the favourite band of the paninari!”

Classmate #1: “What the f***, mate? The favourite band of the paninari is Duran Duran!”

[Classmate #3], who heard the exchange, stood up without a word and started taking off his designer jumper, shirt, belt. He only stopped when [Classmate #1] retracted, but not before we saw that his fantasy-print Y-fronts were from a name brand, too!

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The Un-Deux-Trois-Quatre-Cinq

, , , , , | Learning | July 16, 2020

I take three years of French in school before switching to Spanish. I am in eleventh grade and am in Spanish 1. We have just started learning past tense and the teacher wants the students to share something about their weekend. When she gets to me, I want to say something about celebrating my grandfather’s birthday.

Me: “Yo comi un gateau!”

Several Students: “You ate a what?!

Teacher: “I didn’t think that was legal in this country…”

For those who don’t know, “gateau” is French for “cake.” It sounds similar to “gato,” which in Spanish means “cat”! So, yeah, I told my class I ate a cat. No, they did not let me forget it, even though I corrected myself right after.

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A Schedule You Actually Like Is Just A Myth

, , , , , | Learning | July 14, 2020

When I was in high school in the late 1990s, class schedules were handled by having students select their courses for the next school year at the end of the previous, and the guidance office would arrange the schedule as appropriate, making sure students were taking the correct number of credits in each subject to graduate without overfilling the class rosters. The schedules were then handed out in homeroom on the first day of class in the new school year, and students had approximately one week to make changes to their course load and class selection. This system generally worked out well for all involved.

The first day of my senior year, however, I looked over my schedule during homeroom and realized a problem with my courses. When I’d selected my senior classes at the end of junior year, I’d chosen Creative Writing and Mythology as two English electives because I enjoyed both and had heard great things about the Mythology class, which was taught by one of my favorite teachers. Instead, my schedule showed Creative Writing during the second semester, but Public Speaking in the first semester in place of Mythology. I was disappointed. Public Speaking was something I did not like in the slightest, and on top of that, the teacher was one who was known among the female students for generally being a bit of a creep — not enough to get in trouble, but enough to make students occasionally uncomfortable — as well as annoying.

My first free period of the day was after the first Public Speaking class, so I had to attend that first class before I could go down to the guidance office to talk to my guidance counselor about the scheduling problem. When I finally got to the office, I discovered my guidance counselor would be out that week, but one of the other counselors was handling his students and would be able to talk to me about my schedule… the next day, as she was unavailable at that moment.

So, I had to sit through a second day of Public Speaking. I told the teacher up front that second day that I was working to change classes, so not to expect me to be there for long. He accepted but still tried to get me to change my mind.

During my free period that day, I went back to the guidance office and spoke with the substitute counselor about my problem.

“Whoever set up my schedule put me in Public Speaking instead of Mythology,” I told her.

The counselor looked through my paperwork about the classes and explained, “Well, Mythology just didn’t work with your schedule, so we had to put you into another elective to make sure you got your full English credit for graduation, and Public Speaking worked with your class schedule.”

I just gave her a confused look.

This time, the counselor spoke more slowly, as though speaking to a preschooler rather than a high school senior. “You need one full credit of English to graduate, and Creative Writing is only half a credit, so we had to choose another elective for you—”

I cut her off, pointing to the top line of my schedule, first period. “I’m in AP English.”

It should be noted at this point that, due to the college-level nature of the course, AP English not only had a full-hour class period, it also had a full-hour every-other-day lab period immediately after. It was worth one and a half credits of English and took up the top line and a half of my schedule. It should have been the first thing the counselor saw when she looked at my schedule.

The counselor gave me a baffled look and asked, “Then… why did you sign up for two electives?”

“Because I wanted to take them,” I said simply.

The counselor was still baffled, but said, “We’ll take Public Speaking off of your schedule for you. You’ll have your new schedule by Monday.”

This happened on a Thursday, since the school year started on Wednesday in that district, so I had to attend one more Public Speaking class that didn’t matter. Monday morning, I had a new schedule in hand, replacing Public Speaking with another free period, giving me two free periods in a row.

The most annoying part? A few weeks later, a friend of mine mentioned that there was a second Mythology class during my original free period — the one right after Public Speaking on my original schedule — and it wasn’t even full. I could have had Mythology after all if someone had been willing to replace my free period, which I didn’t really need. At least the extra free periods during senior year let me get homework done at school rather than having to spend time at home doing it.

Silver lining, I guess.

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He Spent All Month Thinking That One Up

, , , , | Learning | July 13, 2020

At my high school, cross country was mandatory. Our PE teacher was very old-school, almost seargent-major-like with his teaching style. Once you got to know him, he was fine, but to most students he was terrifying. He also had a dry sense of humour.

At the end of one cross country event, when one of the slower boys crossed the line, he panted up to the teacher.

“What’s my time, sir?”

Without missing a beat, the teacher replied, “How should I know, boy? I’ve got a stopwatch, not a calendar!”

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A Civilized Disagreement

, , , , , , | Learning | July 10, 2020

I was never much into sports and preferred video games, even back in the nineties when they hadn’t quite reached the mainstream. In high school, this brings me into some conflict with one of the journalism teachers, whose other job is writing in the sports pages for the local newspaper. 

Despite our minor and mostly jocular disagreements on what constitutes news, he supports my interest in a video game review column, leading to one memorable clash. 

Teacher: “The column seems fine, except for one thing. You refer to the maker as ‘legendary’ and your column needs to be written from a neutral stance.”

Me: “He’s founded two separate game companies, and when he makes a game, they put his name on the box above the title. It’s a solid mark of quality.”

Teacher: “I get that he has some presence in the industry, but I still believe that your personal opinion on his work is coloring the piece inappropriately.”

Me: “I have an idea.”

I call out across the classroom to the only other gamer in the class, who — importantly — has NOT read my article or heard us talking.

Me: “[Classmate], I’m reviewing Alpha Centauri. What’s a good adjective to describe Sid Meier?”

Classmate: *Without hesitation* “Legendary.”

That teacher and I did not see eye to eye all the time, but I give him credit for working with me despite our differences. The column was published as written, and Sid Meier was actually inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences later that same year. He was only the second person inducted, after Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of, among others, Super Mario. Twenty-one years later, Sid Meier is still making award-winning games.

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