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Monday, January 17, 2011

Looks Like That's One for Me

While I’ve never been entirely comfortable with my athletic capacities outside of, say, running madly from scary things and the ability to square dance like a crazy person, I am quite comfortable with my brain.

I like my brain; and while those who have witnessed my efforts to pickle it on occasion may disagree, I persist in believing that I act in its best interest.

I’ve not always been happy about being smart, though; and at one point in elementary school, whilst moving once again from one small town to another, I pretended that I was not.

Raise my hand? Who? Me?

I went from jamming my entire arm into the air every time the teacher asked a question to feigning ignorance about just about everything.

What? Answer a question? Me? Nope. I’m just the new kid.


We stayed at that particular school for a year and then moved again. Tired of pretending that I didn’t know anything, I resumed my question-answering ways.

In my late-20s, I returned to school to become a court reporter; and while there I took several classes I didn’t really need, one of which was shorthand.

The shorthand class was part of the Secretarial Sciences program, a one-year course designed to turn recent high school graduates into employment-worthy receptionists, secretaries, and administrative assistants.

The shorthand teacher was a tall, bird-like woman intensely devoted to her students; and the day I walked into class, her bright little eyes positively shone with excitement.

Poor Miz Bird. She was competitive, a Lucille Ball sort of character in her belted dresses and high heels; and it pained her that a court reporting student was taking her class. She very much wanted one of her students to outshine me – not for personal reasons, you understand, as she didn’t know me – but in a we-got-spirit-yes-we-do-we-got-spirit-how-about-YOU? sort of way.

Poor Miz Bird. Her students were, across the board, 18 years old and hung-over on a daily basis. The freedom of leaving home and attending a community college was heady stuff; and they celebrated, nightly.

Me? I had a six-year-old at home and more trouble than I could shake a stick at. I needed this degree.

Miz Bird gave us spelling words every Monday.

It was important that we were well-rounded.

“I know we’re all looking forward to Friday’s test,” she chirped one day. “And I hope that my girls are going to show our little court reporter here how we do it in the Secretarial Sciences!”

Full-time school, child at home, part-time work, I didn’t have a chance to look at the words until Wednesday night; and while I would not say I am psychic, I had a strange feeling about one of the words. I had heard of it, I knew how to spell it, but I didn’t know what it meant. Suspicious and dead tired, I looked the word up and promptly fell asleep on the couch.

In the morning, Miz Bird hopped excitedly on her long slender bird legs from one desk to another. She had a surprise for us.

We weren’t going to have the spelling test Friday. In fact, it wasn’t a spelling test at all! It was a vocabulary test and we were having it today! Surprise!

But judging from the looks on the faces of the other gals in the room – and judging by the way they all turned to look at me – the only one in the class that was to have been surprised was me.

The test was aloud.

Missy, what does “nubile” mean? Patti, what is the meaning of the word “desultory”?

Oddly enough, Missy and Patti, best known for their having lip-synched to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” at October’s Fall Dance and Cow Patty Bingo Extravaganza, knew both words.

I would’ve bet against it.

“Pearl?”

I looked up.

“Perhaps you can tell the class the meaning of the word “apogee”?”

It was the word. The word I had looked up last night.

The bright young faces in the class, smiling expectantly, turned to look at me, the Old Lady in the Room. There were only 28 women in the Secretarial Sciences program, and I wasn’t one of them.

“Apogee,” I repeated thoughtfully. “I believe that’s the highest point in an arc, isn’t it? The summit?”

Miz Bird’s face fell, as did the rest of the class’s.

It was a small triumph, but a small one.

And I had really needed a triumph.

35 comments:

bruce said...

most awesomness.
this'n post is the apogee of my bloggering arc for the day...

Bruce
bruce johnson jadip
evilbruce
stupid stuff i see and hear
Bruce’s guy book
the guy book
Dreamodel Guy
dreamodeling!

haphazardlife said...

HA! Take that Miz Bird

Sarah Has Moxie said...

It's not easy being the smartest girl in the room, but baby, you make it look good. :)

Oilfield Trash said...

Congrats on the triumph.

Leenie said...

Being psychic, smart and experienced beats beauty and youth in the real world.

Simply Suthern said...

It is nice to set some folks on their heels once in a while aint it. I went back to school as well and was the old man in the class. I had something to prove and screwed up the grading curve for the youngins.

BTW, Do you call court reporting fiction or non_fiction or is it depending on whos talking?

Maundering mutterer said...

When I went to study, I paid for my own studies - unlike the rest of the class. I was always the twit with her hand up, and I thought it was because I was stupider than the others. Hah! Yeah sure! My entomology lecturere took me in dislike.. but perhaps I'll blog about that sometime... so I'll save the story!

Camille said...

Seems like we've all had an experience with a teacher like Miz Bird...harrrumph. Bravo to you Pearl for being on top of your game.

And Jeepers - Missy/Patti actually knew desultory?? I had to go look that sucker up...and riffled through the dictionary in a desultory manner.

Eva Gallant said...

Good for you! and screw you, Miz Bird!

Belle said...

That was unkind of that teacher. She should have been thrilled to have you in the class!

GYPSYWOMAN said...

oh, pearl, another parallel in the lives of those of us having continued our education after living a bit of life - wonderful story told with your usual magnificent flair - and you know, i think i had miz bird in secretarial studies, too!!! ;)

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

As, um, some director or producer said during last night's Golden Globes, "Smart girls have more fun." As I often say, "Living well is the best revenge."

injaynesworld said...

In a world determined to kick our asses, we all need to savor those little triumphs, my friend. Well told, as usual.

Jellybaby said...

Just love it!

Gigi said...

Score one for Pearl! That must be the best feeling in the world - one upping someone who so deserves it.

Mary Anne Gruen said...

I hate people who do that sort of stuff. Always thinking of pecking order. They waste an awful lot of time and energy. I'm glad you refused to be put in your place!

becca said...

you make being smart look good.

IndigoWrath said...

Bitch. Slap. I salute you, ma'am.

Glen said...

a great win and a poke in the eye for the suppression of the proletariat (probably, I have no idea what I am saying).

Bouncin' Barb said...

Love stories like this. Would love to have seen a pic of her face. Shorthand! Now that's a blast from the past. I did well in the 2 years at school for it but when I got my first office job they were using dictaphones by then. Never used shorthand at all. Great post.

Pat Tillett said...

Shorthand? Hell, I never mastered longhand...

Sweet Cheeks said...

All the girls in my high school wanted to take shorthand so they could write gossip notes in class to each other without being caught. It worked really well for them, at least until they discovered our History teacher could READ shorthand. He'd been enjoying their private information for months without them knowing! What a rascal...
=]

Macy said...

Yay! Go Pearl! Now to really slay Miz Bird, for your next trick you should have used apogee in a sentence.. maybe on a daily basis... :)

savannah said...

well done you! that's what happens when you're a lert! xoxox

Jhon Baker said...

I always enjoyed being the smartest person in the room. Outside the room, however, it often lost me a lot of potential friends.

Lisa said...

I love your storytelling skills. Love them.

John McElveen said...

I once had a Pair o G's!

Gee Whiz and G Willikers!

Beautiful Blog!

John

Amanda said...

Congratulations on the victory! My mom is a court reporter and she used to tell us all of the horrible stories so that we wouldn't be bad and would be afraid to go to jail.

Lazarus said...

Very well done!

Jilda said...

you rock Pearl! my high school counselor told me to be a typist or find a husband, I wish I could send him my bio! Thanks for checking out my blog.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I love the way you tell a story. Congrats on the triumph, Pearl.
jj

Tempo said...

HA! she should have known better than challenge our Pearl...

Kate Mohler said...

You have a knack for spinning a tale, Pearl...and for being Best in Show. :-)

Kate said...

A) Boo to her for pulling that crap.

B) I went back to college as a 24 year old with two little kids. Having spent my initial college experience taking high level courses that sounded interesting and conceiving previously mentioned children, I was stuck taking required 100 level courses to finish off my degree. Which put me in public speaking with a bunch of 18 year olds who were too hungover or worried about looking like they were trying in class to lift an arm to answer. So I can definitely relate to that part of your experience. And you'll be glad to know that my rotator cuff has since recovered from the beating it took answering nearly every question for a semester.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Yours is funny stuff. I'll be back!

Susan in the Boonies said...

Ha HA! (that was a PeeWee Herman kind of "ha HA!")
Take that Bird Brain!!!
Court reporters so rock!!!