24 November 2006

It was a black crayon

In French class on Wednesday, our teacher actually grabbed my notebook and held it up for all to see, exclaiming that THIS (pointing at my homework, written in obsessively neat lines and paragraphs, with space for her to write corrections, and without any crossouts or scribbles) is how everyone should write out their devoirs.

I wavered, in the space of those thirty seconds, back and forth from giddy pride at how well I had done (at writing on lined paper--yes, we are reverting to second grade, aren't we?) to sheer embarrassment at being the goody two-shoes in the room. Then relief when she handed it back, then more embarrassment when another student grabbed it and my notebook was passed around the room (more, I think, to copy study my answers than to admire the straight lines of writing). Grown-up students are just as inclined as kids, it seems, to not doing homework and then copying it or scrambling to do it at the last second (even after class has started). This is a practice that annoys me to no end. I did my homework, why do you get to freeload off of me? Now I am being a goody two-shoes.

(Note: After a brief search, I just discovered that the phrase "goody two-shoes" comes from a "rather twee" 1765 children's book. The main character, named Goody, only has one shoe, is given a new pair, and then acts all show-offy about it. Source. Ain't the internet grand?)

Speaking of classroom embarrassment, I am reminded of a time in first or second grade when I raised my hand to say that I couldn't find my crayon (our teacher had passed them out for us to work with). Everyone laughed at me, because I had somehow twisted the crayon up into my hair and then forgotten about it. They, meanwhile, could plainly see it hanging there in my white-blond hair. I had evidently been doing the "very very shy + absentminded girl with long hair twisty around finger (+ crayon, in this case)" thing: this was a long-lasting epoch of my life. I was mortified.

You know, I didn't even remember that I remembered that. But there it is. And so, the lesson that I learn from this brief detour into memory lane is that, although I was embarrassed the other day, nothing can compare with the mortification of a shy childhood when one twists one's crayon into one's hair.

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