Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Square Root of Protons Divided By Adjectives

So a day of testing on Tuesday.

I met with officials of the University of Maine, Farmington, the college to which I have applied for admission into their 2009-2010 academic school year.

As part of the meeting I was asked to take four tests to help the college determine the winner of this year's Most Likely To Be Mistaken For A Narc On Campus award.

Actually, the tests were in reading comprehension, writing, algebra, and biology.

I aced the reading comprehension, answering questions from a series of small essays. One was about Arturo, the non-traditional college student who commutes to school everyday, leaving his wife at home to take care of their six children. I liked Arturo the most out of all the essays. The multiple-choice questions were something like, "In this passage, what do you think the author was trying to say about Arturo's decision to go back to college, leaving his wife behind with their six children?

A. That Arturo is a bad man
B. That Arturo had his chance 22 years ago but fucked it up and should have to breast feed the children himself
C. That Arturo is a stupid name and he's probably here illegally
D. That Arturo has as much right to go back to college, as long as he has the money to pay for it

The writing test was actually just an essay. You were required to read an essay, then write your own, arguing for or against the subject presented in the original essay. The essay I read was about tattoos and body piercings. In response, I wrote a story about the day I took my oldest daughter to get her bellybutton pierced. So my essay was decidedly "pro" flesh abuse.

You were required to write your essay in longhand, with a pencil, on wide-ruled notebook paper, in a 45-minute span of time.

What do you think the author of this blog feels about that?

A: He hates longhand because it makes his hand ball up into a fetal, arthritic curl
B: He hates wide-ruled notebook paper because his handwriting is so small that the wide rule makes it look like it was written by a serial murderer
C: He thought pencils were just cute relics of a bygone era. Say, 1986?
D: He hates essays-as-tests because, as a writer, the best quality is in the rewriting, where you can refine your thoughts and fix your glaring blemishes
E: All of the above and a whole lot more

I'm not sure, but I think, in my haste, I actually wrote the sentence "If I ever go to prison, I would get a tattoo on my ass of a ship in a bottle."

Now, in real life, I would have recognized that as inappropriate to the overall context of the essay and would have changed it to say "Tattoos on some people look stupid, like, for example, ships in a bottle."

But NOOOO. I was under duress. I was being tested. I had to get the thing done.

The latter part of the day's tests, administered at Guantanamo Bay, were in algebra and biology. Both subjects I failed in high school.

The trauma from which was so great that today, years later, whenever I see an algebra or biology text book I have the same nightmare for weeks where I'm late for school, completely naked, forget my locker combination and walk into the girls bathroom by mistake and run into Marly Johnson, the varsity cheerleading captain who I have fantasized having sex with all school year, but who am I kidding, I mean, let's face it, there's no chance in hell that she'll hook up with me now, after seeing me blow a snot bubble during track while attempting the long jump.

I was looking forward to reliving THAT chapter in my life, let me tell you.

A typical math equation:

2(4 -7) / 2.45(F) + X = Chevrolet

What the fuck does that mean?

There's no explanation given. I kept flipping the paper over to see if there was some key on the back. They don't tell you what they want from you, either. Am I supposed to say, yes, that does equal a major automobile manufacturer? Is Chevrolet an algebraic term? And they were all like this.

Some asked to find percentages. Some dealt with basic fractions. Some dealt with adding a percentage of a fraction. Others required multiplying two fractions and then finding the percentage. Some asked, in word form, for me to find the percentage of a fraction of a whole number, divisible only by itself, when purchased at a sales tax rate of 5 percent.

Jesus Christ. What? I've never been to Wal-Mart and had to make such a calculation. The lady with the three and a half teeth, named Norma Lou, just scans my shit and tells me what I owe her.

Fucking percentage of a fraction on a slope within the circumference of a goddamn isosceles triangle at noon going in opposite directions at different speeds bullshit.

Biology was okay. I mean, at least there were no fractions or volume calculations involved. That doesn't mean I did well. Come on folks, haven't you been paying attention? I had to answer questions about zygotes and nuclei and protons and photosynthesis and something called "the scientific method" which I thought was a sexual reference. Like the rhythm method, you know?

There were questions about human reproduction, ecology, global warming, and Charles Darwin. Quite the spread. I never thought biology was such a big, you know, thing. Such a wide assortment of living stuff. Mammals and vertebrates and warm-blooded, single-celled osmosis.

But, I expected this, which means I did not set myself up for disappointment. In fact, I anticipated getting not a single question right. I left, however, knowing I had probably gotten a third of them correct, thus raising my hopes. See how that works? I was a winner for failing two more tests in my lifetime. I turned a potentially depressing episode, one that could crush my fragile ego into dust, into a victory. That makes me a genius.



  1. I, for one, am sure that you did better than you think you did. BUT...no matter. You have to have a re-do anyway. Retake those classes that you love so dearly!
    And I, as always, will be here at home Root-toot-tootin for my baby!

  2. I work at a college and I believe that most of what they test on in entrance exams is so they can make more money. You just made some administrators very happy.

  3. Having to take a math test today is one of my nightmares. I have a calculator and a brother who is a master's level engineer available by speed dial to do math for me when needed.Seriously, why do you need ot do math? I assume you'll be studying english or writing or some such topic..?

  4. I am awesome at math, and not too bad at biology. Call me anytime.

  5. *snorting* I hope you are not terribly offended, but I just laughed so hard my significant other took off his headphones, leaned over to see what I was reading, shot me a strange look, and went back to his music.

    Good luck on the testing... and thank you so much for sharing your experience - I am still grinning.