Friday, October 14, 2011

Never Lend Your Term Paper To a Sasquatch

Even I, Dinosaurus BabyBoomerus, have to admit there might actually be aspects of technology that are very helpful and enjoyable.

Yes, I rail about the fact that everyone in my childrens age groups always has his nose in a text or a tweet and I fear that imagination -- fostered by the artful wandering of an unoccupied mind -- will be negatively affected.

And, dare I add that the world doesn't need to know, via Twitter or Facebook, that you are currently kissing your dog on the lips.

But, I have seen my friend's face after she has skyped with her daughter in Italy. There is no denying the genuine happiness there.

I also remember how traumatic it was, upon two occasions, to lose papers I had written for school--something that would be an unlikely event today, thanks to technology.

The first was in Mr. O'Malley's high school history class.

Disliked by many for his apparent charmlessness (I found some charm there if only in the florid enthusiasm he had for his subject) and the ever present bubbling spittle in the corners of his mouth (admittedly hard to deal with), he allowed me to leave class and canvas the school when my term paper went missing.
A relic

I'd worked very hard on it. I had no typewriter and it was carefully handwritten. When the time came to hand it in and I couldn't find it, that awful feeling we've all had at one time or another crept hotly from my stomach into my throat.

I knew I'd packed it. It wasn't languishing on the kitchen table over which I'd hunched with shoulders drawn up around my ears as I copied, in blue ballpoint, from my rough draft.

It had made it to school because, since it would greatly affect our final grade, I'd confirmed its presence -- tucked into my notebook -- several times.

Retracing my steps, I hit the gym, the library and the only bathroom I used in the building--because it was so close to the office, the scary girls stayed away. 

No paper.

In the Brooklyn classroom, far-fetched excuses flowed like water and teachers were pretty skeptical but my reputation was solid and Mr. O'Malley took my word that I had actually done it.

I was given an extra day to recreate the paper and hand it in with no penalty.

In college, I wrote the single funniest thing I have ever written. It was for a class on ancient Rome. 

As was my tradition, my desk was in the very last row. I never raised my hand or uttered a peep and sat behind a bunch of boys who used to talk constantly about how badly they wanted to hit the professor in the head with a 2 by 4. They'd laugh like silent hyenas throughout the entire hour and I could barely hear what the teacher was saying.

The grade in that class was based entirely on one very long research paper. For some insane reason, I'd gone on at great length -- among other wacked-out tangents -- about what I conjectured to have been the birth of the confetti industry.

Apparently, I was already pretty bizarre.

But I wasn't the only one who thought it was funny. The teacher sought me out to tell me that he'd laughed his head off while reading it and gave me an A. He also asked me to lend it to another student who'd done poorly so she'd see what a good paper was like.

I knew this girl. There was class wide suspicion that she was really a sasquatch who'd wandered in from the wild and I was afraid she'd lose my paper. And, of course, she did.

Gone forever.

Today, we'd just print out another copy. And this, my tweeting friends, is a distinct advantage of the computer age.

Moral of the story: If there is a sasquatch in your class, set her free for she belongs to the outdoors...but do not lend her anything of importance because, chances are, you will never see it again.


  1. You are not going to believe this.
    I also wrote a paper for my Latin class.
    I was so fascinated by the information I uncovered during my research (pre-google, pre-computers) that I wrote a small novel... wandered from tangent to tangent, covered the entire civilisation of the Roman Empire.
    My teacher, Mrs Woodfield - who was almost the scariest person at highschool (that award went to my math teacher, Mrs Beresford), put the novel back on my desk almost reverently.
    She told the class she nearly failed me, because she had only asked for 200 words - and should have stopped marking me once they were up.
    BUT, I had done the best work of any pupil she had ever had - and not only was she giving me an A+ for this paper... she was giving me an A on everything for the rest of the year.
    She said it was an honour to have a pupil like me.
    It remains one of the best days of my life.

  2. Janet, that is a phenomenal story. What a beautIful reward for you rhard work. I am not surprised at all that it ranks as one of your best days.