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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

And That's One Point for Me

While I’ve never been entirely comfortable with my athletic capacities outside of, say, running madly from scary things or 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.

It’s a good brain; and despite what you may hear from an unfriendly press, I have had opportunity to use it several times.

Apart from enjoying my brain, however, I have not always been happy about being smart; 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 to 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.

It was, of course, difficult to simultaneously learn two forms of shorthand at once; but I cleverly retained the majority of the manual shorthand for a period of perhaps three years, tops, whereupon I purged it from my brain in favor of more crucial information such as memorizing drink recipes and who played guitar in what band.

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? As a single 28-year-old with a six-year-old at home, 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, from one desk to another.

She had a surprise for us.

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

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 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 triumph, even if it was a small one.

And I had really needed a triumph.

28 comments:

Indigo Roth said...

Heh, sticking it to "The woMan"...

haphazardlife said...

Do NOT try to put one over on Pearl. Evah!

joeh said...

One small step for court reporter, one giant leap for womankind!

Love it!!

Delores said...

Always follow your hunches.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
One up for the self-educator... Keep socking it to 'em, gal. YAM xx

Pearl said...

Delores, for just a moment, I thought you wrote "always follow your haunches".

:-) On a Wednesday morning, that's the sort of thing that makes me laugh.

vanilla said...

You rock! And you are still ascending, have yet to hit your apogee.

sage said...

Secretary sciences... an interesting name for a course of study, but if I'd thought I could be in a class with 28 girls, I might have taken it up in my younger days... I seem to remember liking Shakespeare in high school cause I was in a class with twenty some girls and one other guy... I always liked it when the odds were in my favor.

Nice writing, Pearl

jenny_o said...

The Miz Birds of the world make me mad. It takes a lot to make me mad, by the way.

I'm so glad you aced that particular answer!

Joanne Noragon said...

One little apogee of the many summits of life. I bet every little glorious one is stored in our heads, to pull out and examine when we need to remember.

Steve said...

Pearl, good for you.

Camille said...

Miz Bird needed a good bitch slap for that type of behavior. Hopefully, and many years later now, her boobs have fallen. Gosh, that was mean of me - is it Friday yet?

Should Fish More said...

You could have even used it in a sentence: 'hopefully, this class will not be the apogee of my schooling'.

Almost Precious said...

Wow. Court Reporter, shorthand. You certainly had a well rounded education.

Happy to hear you left Miz Bird with egg on her face.

Elephant's Child said...

How nice (positively wonderful in fact) to hear that you made the old phrase 'cheats never prosper' true that day. And, it usually isn't.

Catalyst/Taylor said...

Excellent! Can you hear me clapping?

Gigi said...

She deserved it...she really, really deserved it.

Jono said...

You hit 'em with your best shot!

Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

Apogee for the win!

Sioux said...

Were you thinking--but left unsaid, "And so there, bee-atches!"?

Geo. said...

Beautifully constructed classroom tableau, Pearl. You're one tough kid and I sure like how you write.

HermanTurnip said...

I'm writing this as I cool down from my six mile run...the pain from exercise can be overcome with how you process the pain and analyze how your body is reacting to the torture you're putting it through. Analyze how you're breathing, how your body is coordinating, and keep a positive frame of mind as you exercise. It makes for a better experience, you can run further, and eventually you're out there running 10 miles like it's nothing. All of this through the power of the mind...and opiates if you have them. Lots of opiates. ;-) Heh...

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

High five for you woman...........

Rose L said...

Apogee...isn't that a half-hearted apology??
;^)

River said...

Go Pearl!
I remember once looking up apogee, it was a clue in a crossword.

Daisy said...

I was in that class I think! I'm the older student who got marked down a grade for correcting the teacher's spelling while typing!

Daisy said...

Hahaha! You're my hero, Pearl. :D

Diane Tolley said...

Ha! Just try to put on over on the court reporter/writer. Can't be done!