In case you didn’t know, I’m not in Lake Elsinore anymore. I’m at BYU, in Provo, Utah (town motto: “Yeah, We Got Mormons”). Apparently, I’m a freshman here, majoring in journalism. Or at least that’s what I’m told.
Brigham Young University seems to be a pretty good school. Everyone here is very nice, which is probably because everyone here is Mormon, and Mormons are supposed to be nice. It’s one of our major tenets; that, and having enough children to populate an entire softball league.
Anyway, allow me now to share with you the thoughts I had last week after I had completed my first day of classes…
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As a journalism major, I am required to take Communications 101. This is a class with 250 students in it, taught by a person named “Dr. Brad Hainsworth.” I put his name in quotation marks because that cannot possibly be his actual name. That sounds more like the kind of name people give their dogs when they (the dogs) are worth hundreds of dollars and their owners want them to have rich-sounding names.
“Dr. Brad Hainsworth” is actually a pretty amusing teacher, despite his fake name, which is good, since the class is absurd. I’ve been flipping through the textbook, and the major theme of it seems to be that communications are very important, so important, in fact, that we should be glad we have the textbook, and by all means we should read it. There doesn’t appear to be any actual information in the whole book, which is fine with me, and it’s probably OK with “Dr. Brad Hainsworth,” too.
My next class is a religion class. The major objective of this course is make sure everyone is Mormon, as is evidenced by the grading scale:
Next is Honors English — “Intensive Writing.” Apparently, we’re going to be writing intensely in this class. I don’t know if that means writing in an intense manner (that is, sitting at the edge of our seats, with beads of perspiration dripping off our foreheads), or if it means writing about intense things (such as people sponataneously combusting, or one’s family dying in a tragic mudslide). I guess I’ll find out.
Following this is an English elective: “Fiction, Poetry, Drama.” Today the professor, whose name escapes me at the moment, asked us why we read, and, as a parallel, asked us why we watch TV. For an example, he asked if we had ever seen “M*A*S*H,” and of course we all had. So he asked why we watch it. Then this one guy raised his hand and said, “Well, because it’s still applicable now. I mean, we’re not in a war or anything, but the things the show talks about are still relevant today.”
This is a perfect example of a student trying to give the answer that he thinks the teacher wants to hear, when really, that student is a moron. I raised my hand and said, “I watch it because it’s funny,” and I looked at the other guy in such a manner as to indicate that I thought he was a bozo. I think my answer was more what the teacher was looking for, but if that guy’s comment was any indication of what’s to come, I think I’m going to get a kick out of this class. It’s people like that who make writing a humor column easy.
My last class is Spanish. I don’t know anything about this class, because I couldn’t find it. The building it’s in isn’t on the main map that we got, so I had to look it up in the general catalogue. That told me approximately where it was, so I figured I could find it when the time came, but when the time came, I couldn’t find it, and I wound up wandering around for a long time. Eventually, I got desperate and started following people who seemed to know where they were going, in the hopes that where they were going was my Spanish class, but none of them were. Naturally, at this point, it began to rain, so I said, quote, “Screw it,” and went back to my dorm. Maybe I’ll give it another shot tomorrow. After all, in the immortal words of Scarlett O’Hara, “Mañana es un otro día.”
Hoo-boy, did THIS column ever cause me some stress. First of all, the paper got this letter, from one of my fellow Mormons (though a rather old and crusty one):
To the editor:
I am registering a complaint by letter concerning your 'Eric D. Snider' reporter. [She actually put my name in quotation marks!] He has consistently irritated my sense of fair play by his 'childish' comments, even when he was in high school. I felt he wrote from the standpoint of a 2-year-old [true, except in terms of vocabulary, subject matter, and sentence structure], and on more than one occasion has upset me by his statements. But his column on BYU was my 'straw that broke the camel's back.'
I dearly love BYU, the professors who teach there, and feel if he can't enjoy it there, he should return home.
He's sarcastic and irritating in what he says!
Our world doesn't need his kind of 'humor.' Thanks for letting me complain.
Good old Clema. I would not be at all surprised to learn that she is a native of Provo, Utah. Why? Because she bears a characteristic of MANY residents in Provo: She said my column irritated her many times, and yet she continued to read it every week! Many people in Provo, I was soon to find out, would read the paper almost HOPING to be offended so they'd have something good to complain and get self-righteous about. I'm just surprised it took 83 columns before Clema found something bad enough to finally make her write. People who read my column in the Provo Daily Herald often only had to read it once or twice before they wrote and started condemning me to hell-fire.
But there was more to this column than Clema's letter. You see, not only did she write the letter, AND call my parents (who were bemused, as usual), but she also sent a copy of the column to the Dr. Brad Hainsworth mentioned within it. Dr. Brad Hainsworth then read part of the column to the class WHILE I WAS IN CLASS! I was so grateful he didn't say my name with it. He didn't seem to mind it, but the students, who all loved him, were outraged on his behalf. (That's another Provo thing: People targeted by humor brush it off, but everyone else gets offended FOR them. It's called Getting Offended by Proxy, and I wrote about it a few times later on, in Provo.)
I soon learned something that made it worse. The column had been severely edited when it was published, and shortened by about three inches. In particular, the part about Hainsworth was cut off after "the class is absurd." So it looked like I was saying the class was absurd and then giving no examples to back that statement up! I looked terribly immature and stupid, and my editor heard it from me, believe me.
Hainsworth didn't care, as I said, but I did get a C in the class. I probably deserved it, but the issue is that since it was a core class for my major, I had to get a B- or better in order for it to count. So I had to take it again after my mission. And guess who my teacher was. Dr. Brad Hainsworth. He didn't remember me, and I got a B+. Life continued.
Oh, and this was the first time I ever mentioned specifically in the column that I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some people may have been surprised, because Mormons aren't usually very funny. (Trust me on this one.)