Monday, December 21, 2009

A Calculative Lot

Ever wondered what ickle schoolgirl Dags was like?

Well, then...

Maths. The bane of my existence.

If there is one thing I truly hated about classical education, it was the ridiculous amount of time they had us spend hunched over our respective desks - calculator in one hand and one funky-looking table or another comfortably perched against a classmate's back (or the teacher's desk, as the case may be) - scribbling our way out of various branches of the science, whose names invariably sounded like a terminal disease.

Maths. I hated it... and still do.

Now the professor wasn't so bad, if I'm to be honest about it. He was a reasonably relaxed guy, long enough out of school himself to maintain at least some semblance of authority over his 32-teenagers-strong class, yet not long enough for him to turn into a dried-up dispenser of mathematical theories. It was an occurrence so rare in our little educational facility, that by the time we hit second term (and came to know most of the profs by handle and reputation, if not by proper name) we were thanking all the gods of erudition for sending the man our way.

The said professor also had one weakness (don't they all?), as Selver and I quickly found out: namely, he was a big fan of cars.

And when I say 'a big fan of cars' I don't mean he just appreciated a nice-looking bodywork when he saw one - the man was a full-fledged fanatic and could recite the names and dates of all car shows within the radius of one thousand miles before you could say 'Gödel's incompleteness theorem'!

Well, guess what? So could Selver and I.

It began as a rivalry of sorts: who would get the latest scoop on new releases first, make a more educated guess on the technical upgrades, or showcase the first official ad... Of course, back in the day we couldn’t really rely on the wonderful world of Internet for support (yes, I’m THAT old!), so punches were pulled based on various subscriptions - magazines, newsletters, satellite channels, everything was fair game - as well as the number of people you actually knew abroad. The score? Professor had an impressive list of satellite subscriptions, but Selver was a walking service manual and I had a cousin working for Mercedes. So I'd say we were pretty evenly matched...

...until the day I brought McLaren’s complete press pack to school, that is.

It was a drastic measure, to be quite honest. We were about to have the end-of-term exam and (instead of studying logarithms like we were supposed to) Selver and I had spent the entire day watching Nordic skiing.

No, really.

It’s an Olympic sport, for Pythagoras’ sake!

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes… the end-of-term exam. Now, there is one thing you must understand before I continue: both Selver and I actually made pretty good students. Whereas my interests always lay in the field of social sciences (fact further corroborated by my latter-day obsession with literature and languages - both living and... err... sadly departed), she was firmly rooted in her passion for the naturalistic approach. Neither of us ever missed a chance to shove her respective preference down the other's throat, which resulted in pretty evenly matched final grades - that is to say Selver would’ve probably made a straight A anyway and, by extension, 'yours truly' would have scraped an A minus as well.

We just thought it was more fun this way.

Maybe I forgot to mention that Selver and I almost always occupied the front-most desk, bordering with the teacher's place? It was a calculated choice, seeing as professors spent most of their time making rounds of the classroom in vain attempts to prevent the back rows from conversing... So it required very little effort on our part to set the trap for the unsuspecting academic, a feat which we took to with undeniable glee.

“You think it’ll work?” Selver asked as I carefully positioned the press pack under my bag, so only the corner part with the team logo was visible.

“Just watch…” I whispered, turning all my attention to preparations for the forthcoming test.

And, as surely as Schumacher was to win that year's championship, as soon as the students started scribbling their answers into the oversize notebook we used for assessments alone, our dear math teacher pointed one finger at the protruding end of the red file and raised his eyebrow in silent request. I nodded my consent in equal silence, trying hard as hell not to look at Selver for the fear of bursting into a most inappropriate fit of laughter. Anime villain style.

“Told ya…” I breathed from the corner of my mouth some five minutes into the test, as it became apparent to everyone that professor was in a state of induced automotive trance and was not, in fact, registering the alarming amount of copying, whispering and general cheating taking place right under his nose.

That was the highest average score we’ve ever achieved as a class.

As Selver and I left the school yard that day congratulating ourselves on a mischief well managed, I felt a tiny prickle of guilt at our obvious misuse of power. But it was quickly eradicated by the knowledge that we have taught our professor a very important life lesson, and one he was not likely soon to forget:

Never trust a woman with a Mercedes.

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