Monday, May 19, 2008

"I think they heard me."

Doogie Howser M.D. holds a very special place in my heart. Not just because he was, in my book, the first official ‘blogger’, but because unlike Doogie, the little prodigy who loved school so much he finished medical school by age fourteen, I loved not going to school so much that I could sometimes convince my mother to let me stay home and watch Doogie reruns at eleven in the morning on TBS. The show, centering on Neil Patrick Harris as a teen doctor, was so the opposite of my life as a fourth grade nothing, that it captivated me. I could never win a spelling bee; much less treat some hypoglycemic kid who passed out at one. At fourteen, I couldn’t even spell hypoglycemic. Also, I never got to say things to sick kids my age like, “Dude, getting a new heart will be so prime!”

But, I wish I did.

All my life, my lack of interest in getting up early-ish to obtain an education has been a chronic problem. I lived two minutes from my elementary school, but that didn’t stop me from running in late nearly every day to class. By sixth grade, I didn’t even bother to stop in at the front desk of the school anymore to announce my lateness and have the secretary sign me in. After six years of being late, I figured the office had already invested in a rubber stamp with my name on it like our princi-"PAL" had for signing the perfect attendance certificates I never received.

You’d stay home from school a lot too if you had my sixth grade teacher. Mrs. Lipton was horrible in a way that only teachers can be. She looked like Old Mother Hubbard and she smelt like the old woman who lived in her shoe. She had so many children in her class, she didn’t know what to do. Originally, a kindergarten teacher, she was made into a sixth grade teacher when there was a shortage of fat women to teach the multiplication table to kids who’d rather be playing soccer (soccer was huge at my school), and she had absolutely no patience for anyone over four feet, especially me, it seemed.

I’d stumble into my classroom, if I ended up going to school at all, right about the time our vice principal would be leading the student body in the pledge over the load speaker and Mrs. Lipton would shake her head at me, “Late again, Princess?” This was her ‘pet name’ for me. I also overheard her call me a JAP once to another teacher; that’s “Jewish American Princess” to all you goys out there. On the playground, ‘bitch’ was my pet name for her. “You won’t be able to do this in middle school,” she’d mutter.

She was wrong. I could, and more importantly, did, do it in middle school and again in high school. I just needed a note from my doctor to do it. Or rather, I made stationary on my computer, printed it out and had my mother sign it illegibly. Look, unless Ty Pennington is slurring outside my window into a megaphone that my house has won an Extreme Home Make-over, I just do not see the point in getting up early. Not even for finals. Twice in high school I slept through final exams, so twice my Aunt Lydia died. She died once when I slept through my math final and once again three years later when I slept through my English final my Senior year. In reality, I didn’t even have an Aunt Lydia, but my English teacher sent a really lovely sympathy card in which she quoted Shakespeare because she really wanted to believe I did.

If you look in my yearbooks, no matter what grade I was in, and ignore all the ‘have a kick ass summer’s and the ‘you’re awesome, never change!’s, you’re bound to find an entry from a teacher that says something like, ‘You were a wonderful student! I only wish I had seen you in class more often!’ The teachers seemed to like me even though some of them may have thought I was a figment of their imagination.

This is no exception in college.

I realize its my own fault that my professors, like the one I have for my Lesbian 100 course (which is actually a Women’s Studies course, but my teacher is gay and only talks about her relationship with her girlfriend who looks like a boyfriend- we saw photos) even notice in a class of five-hundred, that I am missing in action on a regular basis. It’s because I’m a big class participator. I don’t mean to be! I just love voicing my opinion so damn much. I like to think I add a certain je ne sais quoi to the mix. I’m one of the good vocal people, though. I’m not like “Chrissy with two esses like in ‘senioritis’.” I didn’t use my hands to speak to distract my professor from the fact that I didn’t know what the fuck I was talking about in our Women’s Studies class and I didn’t think I was The Office’s Dwight to our professor’s Michael. I said witty things that were on topic and usually included a pop-culture reference, I was intelligent, and I was cute. These were all things Chrissy-With-Two-Esses-Like-In-‘Senioritis’ did not have going for her.

Chrissy-With-Two-Esses-Like-In-‘Senioritis’ is the kind of student who thinks they’re clever and witty, except they are not. When our Lesbian 100 professor, Jill Novak (a lesbian-y-er name there never was) said she would probably have trouble remembering how to spell Chrissy properly, Chrissy-With-Two-Esses-Like-In-‘Senioritis’ said, “Remember it because it has two esses. Like in ‘senioritis’!”
I turn to Ally, “More like Schutzstaffel!”
Ally’s eyes go wide and she nods, agreeing with me, then whispers, “Also, she has bad hair.”

Ally is the Ashley to my Mary-Kate and a fellow student of the Regis and Kelly is on at Nine in the Morning and Even That’s so Much Better Than Learning Crap School of Thought. We’re just two years away from graduating with our degrees in Pop Culture with an emphasis in Starbucks. Technically, we’ve known each other since high school, but only because we met each other outside the nurse’s office briefly before either of us had cell phones and had to fake sick in order to gain access to a phone with which we could call our mother’s to come pick us up from third hour. She told me she liked my Audrey Hepburn bag. I told her I liked her hair. Now that we are in college together, we have taken our habit of ditching class to the university.

On days when we don’t want to go to class, Ally usually texts me just early enough in the morning that its still a little too early. “I’m not going to class today,” her text say simply. The short, shrill beeps of the phone greet me at that brief moment between wake and sleep where blowing off your future seems like the perfect companion to your five-dollar latte.

I have one eye open when I text Ally back with one hand, “me either.” No caps. Simple. Just right. It conveys my laziness on this Tuesday morning. Then I drop my phone onto my side table and turn off my alarm so I can sleep the next couple of hours. Just like a real college student.

I know Ally’s method all too well. It’s the same fool-proof one I used on my mother when I was ten and didn’t want to go to Hebrew school on a Sunday; I’d wake her up just before she actually had to get up and tell her I didn’t want to go to Hebrew school. “Fine,” she’d grumble in her sleep, “But you’re going next week.”

Today however, I texted her about ten minutes before I was supposed to actually pick her up on our way to school, “I just woke up. JUST WOKE UP!” I write.
She texts me back almost instantly, “Haha that’s fine! I didn’t really want to go to class anyway.”

We hardly ever do.

The rare day when Ally and I actually do roll into class relatively on time, it means we have to drive past our old high school on the way to The University of Lesbian Town. At a red light, the two of us stare at the acned boys in their bright purple and white school pride colors, running like Juno’s Paulie Bleeker around the track.
“Oh, that is one place I’d never want to go back to,” I shudder.
“Can you imagine seven hours of school? Every day? Even Fridays?” Ally shakes her head dramatically.
“Not if you’re us,” I answer, as the light turns green.
“How we passed high school without actually going more than one full day a month is beyond me,” Ally sighs.

I’m not really sure either. I was hardly ever there. When you add up all the days and classes I’ve skipped, it probably would total about a full year of schooling that I’m missing. This is the completely opposite of my former classmate Jessica Oilandey, who never missed a day of classes in her entire life; from our first day of kindergarten to our last day of high school. Obviously, she’s not Jewish so she never had to miss because she was busy fasting and obviously, her mother doesn’t love her enough to pluck her out of advanced chem class just to go shopping. And, apparently, she must be a morning person. Something I never was really and probably never will be.

I have to believe its genetic, since my mother isn’t a morning person either and back when she used to have to drive me to school, I can recall early mornings where she’d slap herself to keep awake while going forty miles per hour on a main road or when she forgot to stop for a red light until she was halfway through the intersection so cars had to maneuver around us to get by. My fear of death is why I don’t take a class before nine AM now. I have a feeling I’d fall back asleep and end up like Mary Jo Kopechne in the Chappaquiddick incident.

My Women’s Studies course starts at nine thirty in the morning though, so I don’t have a lot of room to make excuses. I just hate going to this class. In short, I took this class thinking I’d get to read a lot about Anne Sexton and Gloria Steinem, but all my professor seems to cover is the history of her own lesbian affairs. If I wanted to learn about lesbians, I would watch The L Word, but I could never get into it. Nothing against lesbians or Jennifer Beals, I love Ellen and plaid, but it just wasn’t my thing. So I stopped TiVoing the show, and Ally and I stopped going to class, pretty much.

“Nice of you to show up!” our professor shouts at us when we walk in, late, and take a seat after not showing up to class for two sessions in a row. The first time we skipped purposely, the second I had a horrible period cramp that I figured only a Midol spiked tall sugar free half caf vanilla latte could fix.
“Us?” I point to Ally, then to myself.
“Yes,” Jill, as she let us call her, folds her thick as tree trunk arms in front of her big as a house chest while she sits on her huge ass. “I like it when you guys come to class. You always participate.”
Later, Ally tells me she must think of us as one person because she never participated, explaining that I may as well have been Penn and she Teller, because she did nothing but nod as I spoke.
“Come to class more often,” Jill says, “You are averaging about once a week.”
“Hey, when you only go twice a week, that’s not bad…” I mumble under my breath.
“Can you be here more often?” She asks.
Ally and I are silent.
“Um, I think that’s a no,” Chrissy-With-Two-Esses-Like-In-‘Senioritis’ says from across the room.
I fucking hate Chrissy-With-Two-Esses-Like-In-‘Senioritis’.
“In all honesty,” I say, “On Tuesday, We had food poisoning.”
Ally sits fuck faced: totally and completely blank. She doesn’t even shudder at the ludicrousness of my lying. We both try to will our blood to the center of our stomach, so we look even paler than we really already are from our lack of sun exposure. We’re too busy shopping online to go anywhere and get our vitamin D.
“We were sick,” I say again for good measure. “Bad chicken. In all honesty.”
Jill looks to Ally who should change her name to Stone Wall Jackson and sighs, “OK.”
Later, as we’re leaving, I turn to Ally and ask, “Did you believe me in there, because, I didn’t.”
Ally shakes her head no.

That week, I learned a little something that Ally apparently knew for a while… I am the worst liar around. We also decided that even though that class might be horrible, at least we have class. Next semester, we promise to make more of an effort to learn stuff… Maybe.

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