05 September 2008
Too Old for School
Ironically, Eamon and Emma are not the only members of the household who have returned to the classroom. Alas, their mother has also returned to the world of academia. Despite Eamon's perception of "Minnesota" (e.g. "The U of M") as a large scale adult-like pre-school, I do not anticipate that I will be engaging in any arts and crafts projects that include finger paint or foam stickers.
Like Eamon and Emma, I have the first week of school under my belt. I walked through campus this week, watching the many Freshman wandering about, dazed and confused, wondering if they would ever find their classroom. (The answer: most likely not). Despite the fact that it has been a few years (read: many) since I first walked around campus like a deer staring into the headlights, I was feeling a bit out of sorts myself. I wondered if I am just too old to be in school. I had just left Biology lecture where I was asked by a fetus (read: eighteen year-old) if I knew how to use a computer based program specific to the university. He chimed, "It's on the computer. Do you know how to use that?" Now, perhaps he was a friendly lad who was just trying to help. I should not automatically assume that he was being a smart ass or was truly uncertain if my elderly self looked incapable of using a computer, due to the fact that I was born pre-Apple. I contemplated a retort but decided that I needed to get from the West Bank to the East Bank and across campus post haste as not to be late for my second class. Did he really ask me if I knew how to use *the* computer? Perhaps, I should have said, "I was using a computer (read: playing Pong on Atari) when you were born, you damn kid!" I decided that would not help the "old factor" I was feeling at the moment. (Maybe it was the cassette playing "Walkman" (read: orange eight track player) and my "Frankie says Relax" shirt that threw him off). (Really, I do not have a Walkman, Eight track player or any 80's related t-shirts).
So, today, as I am running (yes, I can still run) to my 8:00 A.M. class, I was yet again attempting to quell these insecurities bouncing around in my head. I arrived only to discover that my biology lab partner appeared to be approximately twelve years old and had neglected to bathe in a substantial amount of time. He felt it necessary to mention repeatedly that he was a mechanical engineering major and thus "very smart" (his words, certainly not mine). I could not determine if it was the highly offensive aroma emanating from his body or his incessant smugness that annoyed me more. In any case, I wanted to beat him with a stick. I surmised that this response *might* be against university policy but I am looking into it to be certain, when he invariably annoys me again.
The lab instructor asked the class members to provide introductions of themselves. At that particular moment in time, I found myself struck with the question of which proposition do I dislike more....the "introduction routine" of the first day of class or the annual gynecological exam. I decided the yearly trip to the ob/gyn would be preferable to listening to the kid at the next table describe why ketchup is (and will always be) his favorite food. While I was hoping there would be a fire drill or something so I could escape, the woman (read: girl) across the lab table announced to the class that she was a princess. Yes, she said "I am a princess." She went on to explain that she is a princess of the Minneapolis Aquatennial and spends much of her time involved in various princess-related activities. Apparently, the highlight of being a princess is wearing the crown. (Makes sense). The coup de grace of this first lab arrived when I thought it could not get any worse. This occurred when one member of the group announced that he and his lab table hated the Badgers. Now those are the epitome of true fighting words to a native Wisconsinite! At first, the lab instructor asked him why he hated the "small animal" (her words) but then suggested "oh, I have heard they can be mean" only to discover the pinhead was referring to the WISCONSIN Badgers. I found myself growling (in my mind, of course) like the actual "small animal" (read: "real" badger). I realized then and there that I was a character in the Matt Groening "Life in Hell" comic series.
I still have not been able to assuage the "you are too old for school" concerns that are ruminating inside. Instead, I have decided to refocus this negative energy with plans to sneak soap on a rope and some breath mints into my lab partner's backpack while I review the U of M policy of beating others with a stick.