I was browsing a gallery of funny notes that teachers had gotten in the classroom today, and it reminded me of an instance in the 6th grade when I did something as a joke that backfired and everyone thought I was a complete idiot.
The statute of limitations on embarrassment has passed, so I can tell the story and laugh about it now, but I’d wager that nobody would ever believe that what I did was on purpose with the intent to be funny. In fact, if I choose to bring it up when we go to my parents’ for dinner this weekend, they’ll still think I was the dumbest creature in existence. Anyway- here goes.
I hate math.
I suspect I’ve always hated math. But it became clear that I would not have a very good relationship with mathematics in the 6th grade. Up until that point, everyone had been telling me that “letters are not the same as numbers.” Then, right around here, they introduced algebra. All of a sudden, ‘A’ COULD be ’35.’ I despised the deceit and trickery that had been my education to this point. The lies that had been told. ‘X’ had no business being in a math problem. ‘X’ belonged on my spelling word list.
It isn’t that I couldn’t DO it, I was able to grasp the basic concepts of algebra- at least until some jackass told me that there was ACTUALLY something called ‘imaginary numbers’ – then I absolutely gave up.
But in the 6th grade, my relationship with the academic discipline known as mathematics began to sour. I struggled with concepts as they grew harder and harder. I even got packed off to remedial math for a while.
One thing I was GOOD at though….was English and Language Arts. I’d always enjoyed reading and writing, so I had a fairly firm grasp of that particular subject. (Remembering this will come in handy in a moment.)
One day, I was whining about math class, and told Mrs. Varelas that I didn’t feel like I needed to partake in that day’s lesson. She told me then that there was no way out of it…unless of course I could produce a note from my parents which said otherwise. She added this last part a bit smugly.
At this point, my still-forming 6th grade brain realized I was doomed to have to suffer through math that day, but damn it, I was going to have a little bit of fun first.
I tore out a sheet of notebook paper and scrawled a note across it.
“Dear Mrs. Varelas. I do not have to do math today. – Signed….Jay’s Parents” ….That is LITERALLY what it said. In its entirety.
I handed it to her, expecting a laugh.
Instead she sighed and made some comment that I don’t remember. I do remember though that she told my parents about it. Rather than recognize that I was CLEARLY trying to be funny- everyone sat me down and tried to explain to me how it didn’t make any sense, that is was probably the worst attempt at a forgery in the history of education. Literally not one person recognized that I was just being a smartass, trying to have a bit of fun, and everyone immediately forgot that my English and Language Arts grades were fairly good, so I should have recognized the grammatical and logical lunacy I had handed in…I had even won an essay contest of some kind…under the tutelage of this very same teacher. Irrelevant. I was a marked man.
That was the first time my sense of humor got me into trouble…but sure as hell wasn’t the last.