Monday, November 29, 2010

Me use English good

I probably shouldn’t admit this, having my own column and everything,
but I am hardly a master of the English language.
But I am sure many of you have figured that out already.
I readily admit there is a lot about my mother tongue I do not know.
In high school, English was a piece of cake, and if I had actually attended more than one or two classes a week, who knows what kind of grades I could have hauled in?
As it was, I got middle-of-the-pack grades even though I literally attended only half the classes. When test time came around, I would just walk in, do what I had to do, and walk out.
That would drive one buddy of mine crazier than a fat guy at a salad bar.
Shawn was a very smart guy and a whiz with computers, math, physics, chemistry and other topics I stayed well away from during my teen years. But when it came to English, he was like Mother Teresa in a bikini contest.
He just did not get it. He would study and take extra classes and would still get pretty much the same mark I would after I spent study hall watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
For some reason, our library had a copy of that goofy piece of British cinema, and it just happened to be my favourite of all the Python presentations.
So, instead of studying and driving hard for that A, a buddy and I would hide in the audio-visual room and watch The Grail, as it came to be known.
Meanwhile, Shawn was cracking the books, burning the midnight oil, working his butt off, digging deep, trying hard and all sorts of over-used cliches, while I was chortling at the antics of the goofs from the U.K.
I would then bang out whatever assignment I was supposed to be working on, hand it in and get a C-plus. Not spectacular, I admit, but at the time it was all good.
To this day, I could not tell you what a dangling participle is. I think I read somewhere it was the name of a 1970s-era porn star, or something like that anyway.
But, despite my lack of knowledge when it comes to those pesky technical terms, I always managed to bang out a decent sentence. And if I put enough sentences together, I would get a story.
My favourite part of English class by far was creative writing.
This happened on occasion, and basically it meant the teacher did not feel like
doing any real work that day, so we were told to just sit there and write whatever we wanted.
The teacher would kick back and relax with what I often suspected was a “special” coffee, if you know what I mean.
He would also tell us to write something or spend some time quietly reading while he stepped out for a minute.
The odd thing was, he always seemed a lot happier when he got back and was doused in aftershave.
You can draw your own conclusions as to how he spent his little break.
Not all my teachers were this way, but for some reason this English instructor seemed more a product of the 1960s than most.
I often wonder what kind of grades I would have achieved had I actually done, um, what’s it called? You know, that thing you do after school? Oh yeah, homework, that’s it.
I did more homework in two years of college than all those years of high school put together. Fortunately, the stupidity of youth is a passing phase – for most people anyway.
I did manage to graduate, and I even made the principal’s list one semester. But it was not exactly for having great grades.

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