"She can't write on the blackboard. For the life of me, I don't understand how you can get into teaching with such atrocious and illegible markermanship." I wasn't really frustrated with my teacher's writing, but students start conversations by complaining. So I was complaining. Class was in a few minutes and something had to be said that would keep us from standing around awkwardly like social misfits with rich parents.
"Powerpoint. That's the life saver of the modern teacher. And its 'markerwomanship,' as long as we are making up terms." My comrade was Konrad (note that I resisted the temptation to spell "comrade" with a K), an international studies major who somehow wound up in French.
"Well, why doesn't she use a computer presentation then? Why insist on the illegible scribbles?"
"Funny you should say that, I had a teacher in my high school Aye Pee honors chemistry once who did something just like that. This was a class for promising seniors with stellar GPAs and PSAT scores, but I took it my junior year because I met all the prerequisites and my principle wanted to find something challenging for me. Anyway, my teacher did the same thing." Konrad threw out this statement as if he'd said it a thousand times before. He was perfectly comfortable recounting his educational resume.
The acronyms left me spinning, not to mention the academic achievements that I am positive are necessary to qualify for a class like that. This kid was a real genius. A little insecure to be flouting his prowess so easily, but a first rate prodigy.
"Congratulations," I said after I'd sorted out GPA and PSAT.
"On the teacher?" Konrad was genuinely confused. Had his compliment bait slipped his mind so easily?
"Your AP class. That's impressive."
"Oh, my Aye Pee class?" Konrad beamed with pride. His question was a rebaiting of the compliment rod. I wasn't going to bite.
"Yeah." I kept my face straight and turned toward the door as if our conversation was over. An awkward pause followed in which Konrad, unwilling to move the conversation from the threshold of praise, waited expectantly for whatever bone I could throw in his direction. I had none to offer. Our impasse ended when another student showed up.
"Morning Melissa." Konrad and I had an unintended harmony as we answered the newcomer.
"You would not believe my history teacher this morning. He droned on and on about Marian Jones like it's going to be on the test. In fact, he was almost as bad as my high school Aye Pee teacher. He would grab every tangent possible and run with it. I almost got a four because of his antics. Almost."
Melanie Melissa made sure we didn't come away with a misinterpretation of her academic abilities.
Konrad felt the need to clarify.
"Aye Pee history, eh? Did you take 20th or 19th century? Because I had to pick 20th to make time for an honors lit class." Konrad had the look of a lawyer in open court. Slick, smooth and sly.
Melanie Melissa shrugged as if her accomplishment was nothing. "And I did honors lit, too."
In class, the teacher explained a difficult grammar concept that we students struggled mightily to understand. Queen, a girl with a disposition to match her name, piped up:
"My Aye Pee French teacher explained to my honors class that the direct object pronoun follows the indirect object pronoun in the 'Est-ce que' form." Queen's manner was defiant; she trusted her AP high school teacher more than her college instructor.
Our professor should have said something smart like "Well, your AP teacher is lucky to still have a job" or "You want to know the French word for where people like that end up after they die?" Instead our teacher kindly suggested that maybe Queen was not remembering her old instructor accurately. Despite the professor's gentle put down, Queen got her message across: I took AP French!
Incidentally, I didn't take AP French. But, boy, I would be such a better speaker and writer now if I had just taken that extra course. In my inadequacy, I feel so left out, so incomplete. I have nothing to bring to the bragging table and am completely outshined by these academic overachievers. I feel inferior. But deep down, in that place where the truth doesn't lie and the esophagus is the next door neighbor, I know I'll never be as good as my peers. And I am at peace with that reality.