Study, Shmudy

Remember when you were in high school? (If it was during the ’60s, you may not, but for the sake of argument, pretend you do.) Remember how report cards used to come out just twice a year, four times at the most? Well, those days are gone for us. We get report cards every six weeks — SIX TIMES A YEAR. My most recent one contained mostly reasonable grades, but My Father, in his Infinite Wisdom, declared that I Could Do Better, and that if I didn’t Do Better, he would Beat Me to Death.

Ha, ha! I’m only kidding! He didn’t use any capital letters.

The most obvious reason for my mediocrity, I guess, is that I am an incredibly busy young guy. Between school and my Other Job and this writing job and the school newspaper and my extremely active social life (that part is really funny if you know me), I have very little time left over for homework. In order to accommodate my many activities, I may have to give something up. Like school.

I guess I don’t have that “Oh-Boy-Let’s-Go-to-School!” attitude that some people have, particularly one boy I know whose name I won’t mention for several complex, journalistic reasons, the main one being that I can’t remember how to spell it. It starts with an “R” though.

R does very well in school, and his grade point average is always higher than that of anyone who has ever lived. With the advent of “Advanced Placement” classes (of which he has approximately 12), it has become possible to earn a GPA higher than the traditional 4.0, and R routinely gets GPAs in the neighborhood of 87.

There must be a lot of complicated reasons for R’s success, but I think the major one is — and you’ll have to pay close attention here — HE ACTUALLY WORKS HARD. Hardly a millisecond goes by that R isn’t READING some TEXTBOOK or GOING OVER HIS NOTES on some DULL, MEANINGLESS SUBJECT or doing ANY NUMBER OF THINGS in LARGE, STUDIOUS, CAPITAL LETTERS that invariably WRECK the GRADE CURVE and cause us to CONSPIRE to BEAT HIM TO DEATH with STICKS.

Take, for example, his book reports. Practically everyone else follows this simple 4-step process for writing book reports:

1. Check the book out of the library the day it is assigned.
2. Put off reading it until the day before it is due.
3. Begin reading it but become bored when the second paragraph is as long as this newspaper and when the only dialogue in the entire first chapter is the main character talking either to himself or to some person who is, technically, not even there.
4. This is a two-parter. You can either

  • a) Give up and find the Cliff’s Notes and more or less re-type them, changing all the literary terms like “protagonist” and “plot” to normal words like “main character” and “stuff that happened.”
  • b) Write the report without the Cliff’s Notes. (Who is this Cliff guy anyway?) This can be done quite easily by carefully reading such pertinent information as who the author is. If the author’s first name is silly (Ernest, Nathaniel, Sinclair, Hermann, Bubba), the book in undoubtedly extremely depressing, which means you should write that it was a “gripping, realistic indictment of man’s inhumanity to man.” (All books are about man’s inhumanity to man.) If the author’s name is John Steinbeck, the book is probably about Mexicans who live in Monterey.

    R, however, does not follow this procedure. Instead, he READS THE BOOK and writes his report on the basis of his UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONTENT!And that’s why my grades are what they are. I refuse to resort to studying. I may have to, though, because if I don’t resort to studying, I may have to resort to living under the porch. And we don’t even have a porch.

    Oh, yeah. One more thing. You may recall a column from a few weeks ago that mentioned four girls (Jennifer, Krista, Heather, and Angella) and their boyfriends (Ray, Garrett, Mitch, and Raoul). Or maybe you don’t recall it. I know I didn’t. But that column must have been good, because literally TWO, maybe even THREE people came up to me and exclaimed, “Who’s Raoul?”

    Well, as it turns out, Angella’s boyfriend’s name is Russell, not Raoul. As far as I know, the only people who are actually named Raoul are the fictitious characters in my Spanish book. Do YOU know anyone named Raoul?

    My teachers really liked this column, as I recall. The students didn't seem to mind it. The boy named "R" is actually named Romben Aquino. He was (well, probably still is) a Filipino fellow, nice guy, going to UCLA last I heard, trying to become a lawyer or something. He was Mr. Study Boy in high school, to the exclusion of friends and/or social life. Folks always liked him, though, 'cause really, what's not to like? Besides that he was smart, I mean.

    In 1999, after this had posted on the Internet awhile, I heard from Romben. He had stumbled across this column while browsing, and was amused by it (he had read it back when it first published, too, of course). He said he was doing well, and still trying to become a lawyer or something. It was nice to hear from him.