That's Baltimore for you. Last week snow, this week eighty degrees. Hey, I'm not complaining! But, here's the thing, do any of you still get that kind of nauseated feeling when spring comes around, or rather what I mean is, when May/June comes around (exam season in the UK)? Since the weather now here in Baltimore is about how hot it would be in May in England, I just got that weird panicky feeling, like a Pavlov dog response to exams, even though I did my last exam donkey's years ago.
Question, why do they have exams in the summer? Why do they lock you in an airless gymnasium that stinks of feet and boil you alive while you try and stay awake trying to answer a question about:
'Craig is pimping three girls. If the price is £30 for each trick, how many tricks will each girl have to turn to support Craig's £600 per day crack habit?'
Ah, if only the questions had ever been so relevant to the real world. It was much more likely to be:
'Give an equation of benzoic acid with ethanol, acetic acid with ethanol and salicyclic acid with ethanol.'
Actually, I never got that question, because I was chucked out of the chemistry 'O' level class after the first term. The teacher, Mr Brown, told us that he used to work in a bread factory and studied after hours to achieve his dream, to teach chemistry to horny schoolgirls in short skirts...no, not even, just to be a chemistry teacher. And he was so proud to have dragged himself up by the boot straps. But in any case, he gave me a D on my report card (after an incident involving some exploding test tubes and setting fire to the gas taps), declaring, as if the very idea were outrageous, 'Emma has absolutely no interest in chemistry.' So to this day I do not know my chemical symbols and my life has been a barren desert of misery because of it. Not.
Because I went to a posh girls' school, they made us do mock exams every year, so that we would not panic when the incredible stress (said in a sarcastic voice), of doing 'O' levels landed on us when we were sixteen. (Yes, I am that old. Yes, mine was the last year to do 'O' levels, the nerds among you can figure out how old I am from that).
And I won't have anyone say that exams teach you nothing about life. They teach you that if you really want to get somewhere you should study hard and apply yourself and then the world is your oyster. Actually what they really teach you is, cram like a lunatic on the morning of the exam, or write the answers on your leg (an advantage of being a school girl and wearing a skirt), or failing that, sit behind the swot of the class and copy her answers.
There was nothing too stressful about exams at school, or at university actually. But once we got to university and we were first years and we saw all these third years studying for their finals, well, it seemed like a really big deal. It felt like the world would end if you didn't pass your finals. And you did hear the occasional story about people who got so stressed out that they topped themselves. There was a guy who, apparently, wrapped himself in copper wire and plugged himself in (a chemist, possibly?)
But even at the time I thought, I don't think the idea of failing your exams is worth committing suicide over. Still, years after university, around May/June I still sometimes have those nightmares where I am naked, in an exam room and looking at the English exam questions and realizing I have crammed for Spanish and don't know a thing, and start crying.
I did something really really bad during finals actually. I got drunk after one exam and slept with a friend's boyfriend (by the way, she wasn't a close friend), and he spent the night in my room. We woke up and thought, "Oh shit." We had to show up to the exam together in about ten minutes. So I swaggered into the exam room (where his girlfriend was also taking the exam), and then he comes in a few minutes later, all casual like and looking like he'd got drunk and shagged someone ... and of course, ten minutes into the exam, the girlfriend puts one and one together and makes two and starts sobbing and has to be taken out of the exam room. I don't know why, but I didn't feel guilty about that at the time...no seriously. After all, I reckoned, I was the unattached one in all this. I'd been quite drunk and hadn't forced him into anything. But I think they both did quite badly in their exams after that. Do you think I'm a dog? I suppose it was a bad thing to do...or rather the fact that we were caught out. I've not done anything like it since, no seriously. I have never slept with anyone's boyfriend. I know you don't believe me, but, I swear....
Ah exams, there's a certain sweet nostalgia to thinking about doing them. In fact, honestly, I kind of miss doing them. Is this a sign that I should go back to college and study something? What do you think I should study, since I am still looking for my vocation? I thought maybe my vocation was to entertain/make people laugh, and maybe that's all it will ever be, but what kind of a career do you think I should do that doesn't involve contact with people or working in an office? Actually, I've started doing charity work, no, for real. There's this thing called Radio for the Blind or summat, closed circuit radio where they need people to read stuff out of magazines for them, and it gets recorded and the blind listen to it. I'm seriously going to be doing this. No contact with people see, but giving back to the community. A win/win situation?
I've gone off track again, but what I also wanted to ask was, what's the stupidest thing you ever did during exams?
Who am I? Displaced Londoner now living in the States with my two little girlies and long suffering husband. Co-author of hilarious parenting book Cocktails at Naptime www.cocktailsatnaptime.com
My mom's an Austrian, my dad's a Brit, which makes me a Britaustrian, or possibly an Austrish?