When: 23 May 2008
Where: My bedroom
Weather: Warm and dry, interrupted by sudden rain in between.
Everyone has a particular story they like to tell at parties. This is mine, the story of how I memorized the English final, although this a longer version than I’m accustomed to telling.
I had some bad zits when I was sixteen. To stop myself from touching my face during class, I would always have a piece of paper on hand so I could make a list. It could be a list of anything, but US Senators were a particular favorite because there were so many of them. After two years after getting into this habit, I discovered to my surprise that I knew the names of every sitting senator, among other things. So I got a little extra credit in Government class, but thought no more of it.
In the meantime it was Grad Nite. All the graduating classes in the area were headed down to Disneyland for a strange, exclusive, nighttime Disney experience. Before we left there were some tornadoes in the Inland Empire, and in a moment of mild fear I told Jeannie I loved her. There was no going back, I meant what I said and had plenty to look forward to. But I shake this song.
This was my big South Park phase, and I couldn’t for the life of me find an mp3 of it. I liked not only the surreality but that it referenced an early part of the show. So I just listened to it via YouTube over and over. I am Gopher Boy pondering reality.
Grad Nite was appropriately weird. I ended up staying awake for 42 hours, but when the weekend ended the time had come to take my finals. And if you ever have the opportunity to ride a roller coaster in total darkness, I highly recommend it.
The English test was the last final I had to take. Finishing it would be my final act as a Bosco student, and I knew I wouldn’t do well. The teacher was a cool guy; young, hip, a real South Lake type. He taught me to love the Arcade Fire and hate the movie Juno. But he wasn’t a good English teacher. It was his second job anyway, but a big part of the class involved making us memorize romantic poems, especially Keats, and I could never manage it. Memorization had never been a strong point of mine, and my grade suffered.
At the same time, all of the tests he gave us were vocabulary words, and so would be the final. I knew what all the words meant, and how to use them, but could never remember what they all were, there were a hundred of them.
So I had a free period before the test. I was riding a high off the previous day’s Lost finale but dreading what was to come. I was loitering in the electronics lab when I saw Josh Corea cramming. And seeing him with all those papers made me realize something: I was perfectly good at memorizing. 100 words, 100 senators. So I asked him for some paper, and began listing all the vocabulary words. Just the words, over and over, for two and a half hours. I ventured into the darkened auditorium, desperately scrawled every word onto the paper, in alphabetical order. From there I filled in the test.
I was the first to finish, and I got an A. I raced across the school to catch the bus so I could be back in Pasadena in time for lunch.
When I got home, I bought train tickets to San Jose. Jeannie’s graduation was two weeks later than mine and I promised her she wouldn’t graduate a virgin. I had popularity, the girl of my dreams, and a job at a very popular gelateria. By nothing but a series of coincidences, I left high school on the highest note I could possibly imagine.
I am gopher boy, pondering reality.