Layers and Layers of Irony and Failure
Nothing makes me more unhappy that enforced pep (you may remember my difficulties when I was compelled to "Dress Like a Holiday") but rather than suffer the ire of certain female members of my department, I now begrudgingly go along with whatever spirit theme is chosen, and so on Wednesday, I wore the required uniform -- black shirt and pants, glasses, and a beret (I only wore the beret momentarily, for "check in," but that's still pretty spirited for me) -- and our department followed suit . . . we were supposed to be Beatnik poets, but I thought some people looked like French painters and others looked like college graduates . . . but we did well enough with our department unity to tie the business department, and since the math department came up with this contest idea, they administered the tie-breaker . . . a math test . . . mano a mano . . . by someone chosen from the department, and so --ironically -- my department chose me to take the test, because though I am the least spirited member of the department, I am pretty good at math (and even taught it, long long ago) and so this set-up the wonderful possibility that the person who really didn't want to "dress like a holiday" would end up being the department spirit hero . . . and so I e-mailed the math teacher administering the tie-breaker and we set up a time and she told me to bring a calculator . . . and that's when I realized that this might actually be a math test and not some math riddle or math trivia quiz or something fun and spirited . . . as we were dealing with the math department, not the English department, and this made me a bit anxious, and it turned out I was right: I had to take a ten question quiz with algebraic equations and number lines and solution sets . . . and this test, in mathematical terms, was 0% fun, but I still felt confident taking it (which means nothing . . . I always feel confident when I take math tests and I've gotten some really abysmal math grades in my life) and I remembered all my acronyms: SMATO (subtraction means adding the opposites) and Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally and FOIL (first outside middle last) and was proudly reciting them to the proctor of the test as I did the problems, and -- for a moment-- I thought I just might be the least spirited department hero ever . . . Cinderella story, underdog victory and all that, but my lack of spirit must have caused some kind of karmic justice; I got a 90% on the quiz-- pretty good, but not good enough, as the guy from the business department got a perfect score (and I really should have got them all right too, but I missed a pair of absolute value bars in the first question, I think I saw them as parentheses, and -- always my problem in math -- I didn't check over my work well enough) but I'm going to try to parlay this ostensible failure into a success . . . I am so distraught and humiliated at my crucial role in our defeat that I can't bear to take part in any other spirit days, or it will remind me of the trauma of this one (that's my story and I'm sticking to it . . . and if there is a moral to my woeful tale, it is this: if the math department says that they are giving you a math test, it's going to be a math test).