Government Names: Random Memory #4

No, I’m still not going to tell you what mine is. Just know that very few people can spell it.

By people, I mean most of the young women and men who work behind the counters of Starbucks shops in my area, in other areas, in all the areas in the world. (For the record, I don’t even remember if the Versailles Starbucks spelled it right. I was on a palace high. Anyway, they get a pass.) Apparently, no one has heard my very common name before and no one remembers phonetics from elementary school and sounding things out. I have spoken my name slowly, have spelled my name slowly–all to no avail. This morning at a Starbucks close to the OK Corral, one poor guy asked me to spell the name. After I did, he laughed at himself for even asking, because, I repeat: it is a very common name. 

Anyway, the whole name thing brings back an interesting memory. Back when I was a college-aged Square Peg and worked at my beloved, dearly departed Borders Books, I went through this weird phase where I was tired of hearing my own name. Blame it on the lack of nutrients and being a teenager, I don’t know. But one afternoon, while at work, I started asking my co-workers to call me a different name, a variation of my government name. Hardly anyone questioned this request. By now, most of them understood that this college girl who was in love with books and writing and a certain boy (see link above) was in a universe all of her own. Soon, my name tag changed. When called on the loudspeaker, everyone used this new name. In conversation, I was referred to by my new name. I was on cloud nine. And let me tell you, when my crush used this new name–let’s just say that it was thrilling. Of all people, he was so serious in accommodating my new name…which made me adore him even more, if that were humanly possible at the time. I digress. I rode the high of having this new identity and I enjoyed every moment of it. Until I didn’t.

name
Especially fake ones.

The thing with a new name: if you’re going to arbitrarily ask people to call you by a different moniker, it’s probably best to request this in all facets of your life. Not just work. Because, sure, people were calling me by this exciting new name in one place, but I was still the same old [Insert Name Here] at home, school, etc. After a while, it felt strange and jarring. And unwanted. I quickly informed my co-workers that they could go back to my old name. As expected of my old comrades, they acquiesced. Funny enough, however, some had gotten so used to the temporary name that it was actually hard for them to go back. Can you imagine? Anyway, eventually, things got back to normal at Borders. Old names returned and steady infatuations continued. You can guess which one of the latter two remained.

The above was brought to you a random memory…

…but before you leave me, tell me how you feel about your name, won’t you? Feel free to add whether your local Starbucks butchers it beyond reason, as well.

The History Test: Random Memory #3

Let’s just get into it, folks. (See other random memories here and here, if you’re wondering what this random memory thing is about.)

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was in a pretty interesting History class. Interesting because my teacher, Mrs. G., was probably one of the more quirkier teachers I’d had in a long time. She was excited about almost everything, pretty corny, and fairly melodramatic. It didn’t take long realize that I loved her to pieces. Why? Because, overall, she was firm when she needed to be, an open lover of learning (especially History, naturally), and just fun. And guess what? That was me as a student: I loved the discipline of school, I loved learning, and I loved fun in a classroom. There you go. But this random memory isn’t a love-fest about my old teacher. It’s about something significant that happened in Mrs. G.’s class.

It was test day. When it came to any class that wasn’t Math, I studied hard. No, seriously, hard. Not only did I want to do well, but I had a deep love (still do) for History. So I wanted my A. Anyway, I took my test and felt pretty confident about it. The next day, Mrs. G. asked me to stay after class. I remember gazing at her in confusion, like, stay for what? To be praised for my A? Like, did nerds stay after class? Because I was a nerd and an obedient one, at that. Further compounding my confusion, she asked another student to stay, as well. We’ll call him N.B. So N.B. and I were sitting there, waiting, wondering. At least I was. Once class was dismissed, Mrs. G. stood before us and, in hushed tones, announced that she felt that one of us had cheated on our tests.

I almost laughed.

I regarded her, half-smiling, waiting for her to pronounce judgment on N.B. After all, everyone knew that he didn’t even try to be a good student. He was more famous for starting fights in hallways than studying. When she remained silent, I felt my oxygen depleting. She was waiting for one of us to admit to it. But did Mrs. G. seriously believe that I had cheated? Me, who took rabid notes during class? Me, who laughed at her silly jokes? Me, who did my homework faithfully?

Even worse: N.B. then says, at the top of his lungs, that it wasn’t him that cheated. My heart racing, visions of my intense studying running through my mind, I also inform Mrs. G that I didn’t cheat on the test.

Mrs. G: Well, someone cheated.
Me: It wasn’t me.
N.B.: It wasn’t me.

Eventually, to settle the issue, she requested that we each re-take the test. Notably, she sat us far, far away from one another. (In case you haven’t guessed, N.B. sat next to me in class.) I nearly pounced on the paper when she handed it to me. Minutes later, I handed the completed test to her and almost near tears, walked out of class. If you guessed that I told the story at length to my friends, decrying the injustice of it all, you would be right. I was incredulous that one of my favorite teachers would believe this about me.

Later, I received my test back. I got my A. We never spoke about it again–until the last day of school. A bunch of friends and I went back to her class to say goodbye at the end of the school year. Needless to say, I certainly didn’t plan on joining the chorus of goodbyes and we loved your class; I intending on merely standing there and giving her the stink eye for not believing in me. But that plan didn’t work. Perhaps it was the bravado that came with almost being a junior. Perhaps it was because I was still pretty hurt and angry and confused. Whatever it was, I waited for a lull in conversation and came out with it. “Mrs. G, why did you make me re-take that test?” I questioned. She smiled. I’ll never forget her reply. “I knew N.B. cheated off your paper. Only you would give me the full answer for a question and give me more information in parentheses. His answers were identical to yours, so it was clear he had copied off you. But the matter needed to be settled.”

A million years later, today, I finally get it. I truly didn’t get it back then, but I accepted her reply and we made up. Now, however, it’s quite clear: it was important not to openly accuse this young man of cheating. It was important to give both of us the benefit of the doubt. And that’s the bottom line. In the end, it didn’t feel great at the time, but looking back, I realize that she did believe in me. Means a lot, even now.

Keep Your Voice Down When Making Declarations of Love: Random Memory #1

Welcome to a new feature on This Square Peg, where I share the random memories that come to me during my morning commute to work! You’re welcome.

There’s always a catalyst to the memories. This particular morning, as I stepped off the train, I saw a young woman who reminded me of a girl that was in my Introduction to Shakespeare class in college. Immediately, I was

you ain't never lied, Wills.
you ain’t never lied, Wills.

transported back: back to those heady days when I was a happy English major and a Math class fugitive, and specifically, when I was head over heels in love with my Shakespeare professor. Regarding the luurrve, can you blame me? Prof E was a true lover of the Bard (as was I, and still am), handsome, funny, and wore glasses. I swooned from day one.

So the Prof would hold these readings once a week, where members of the class would voluntarily meet and read a play–whether Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe or anyone in between, it was a fun way to get to know each other and discuss literary thoughts and conventions outside of class. Needless to say, I signed up as soon as possible. The night of the reading I joined, we were dismissed for a short break. After a pal and I grabbed something to munch on, we were heading back to the reading room. This was when it all happened, when I suddenly got all up in my feels over my professor. I’ll never forget the following conversation.

Me: I think I love him.
Pal: Who?
Me: Professor E, of course. I’m in love with him.
Pal: Oh, Lord.
Me: He’s amazing. He’s so smart. And funny. And cool. And awesome.
Pal: Ok, [Government Name], chill out, though. Keep your voice down.
Me: I can’t! I want to shout it from the rooftops. I love him!
Pal: Seriously, stop talking right now. Don’t say another word. Don’t.
Me (suddenly freezing and turning toward her): He’s behind us, isn’t he?
Pal: Yeah.

Like clockwork, Prof E walked from around us. Of course, to add to the sweet misery of it all, he turned around, grinned at me, and said he’d see us in the room. What happened next:

Me: I’m going to kill myself.
Pal: You’re not going to kill yourself.
Me: Yes, I am. We’re on the 3rd floor, right? I’ll jump right here, from this balcony.
Pal: Get away from that balcony. Look, it’s no big deal. So he knows you love him. He’s probably flattered.
Me: I want to die.
Pal: Later. We need to get back.

(Can I tell you how cool my old friend was back then? She was the senior to my junior, listened to most of my melodrama with the same dry, unruffled, and hilarious reaction, and let me escape the craziness of college days in her dorm room. The best.)

Anyway, as you can imagine, going back to that room took all the strength I could muster. But Prof E never made it awkward. After that day, we continued to have our interesting discussions, in and out of class, as if nothing had happened, as if I hadn’t declared my love for him on the third floor of the Johnson Center. Sigh. I’ll never forget your rimless glasses, Prof E.

This was brought to you by a random memory.