Wednesday, January 18, 2006

And Then The Mouse Ate The Green Eggs and Ham With The Goat

i don't know what made me think of this, but i can now pinpoint the day in which i became a procrastinator.

i was in second grade and we had an assignment to pick a book out of the library, take it home, and be prepared to read it in front of the class a few days later.

i picked a Dr. Seuss book. i cannot remember which one it was, but let's use Green Eggs and Ham as an example. all of us know the story, so let's stick with that one.

so i sign the book out of the library and keep it in my desk. i keep meaning to take it home, but i tell myself "i'll take it home tomorrow". i don't even crack the book open until about two minutes before it was my turn to read in front of the class. as a 7 year old, i was petrified of reading aloud, especially standing in the front of the classroom with 32 eyes staring back at me. i'd get all nervous and sweaty and generally a mess. but i also didn't have the courage to say "no" or to voice my dislike for reading to my peers, so i just sucked it up and did it.

when it was my turn, i walked to the front of the class and opened the book. as we all know, Dr. Seuss books are built on rhymes. i got through the first part ok:

I do not like Green Eggs and Ham
I do not like them
Sam, I am

a bit of background on my second grade teacher. she was one of the meanest teachers in the entire elementary school. so mean that kids and parents alike feared her. she would rant and rave and yell if things didn't go her way. she loved to make kids stay inside for recess, and she had no trouble putting kids in the corner for hours at a time. but this was the early 80s and there was no watch group to get her ass fired, so everyone put up with it. her name was mrs. boyd and she frightened me so bad that on a few occasions i tried climbing out the bathroom window just to escape her wrath.

i got through the first few lines of the book, but then i panicked. i couldn't read the rest of it. my teacher could obviously tell. i stuttered and stammered and my little girl voice went to a whisper. i couldn't let on that i didn't practice reading the book, so i tried to get out of it the best way i could. i just made things up.

the second part of the story goes like this:
I do not like them here or there
I do not like them anywhere
I do not like them in a boat
I would not, could not, with a goat

but i didn't yet know words like "anywhere" or "would" or something along those lines. i mean, i was a smart kid, but for some reason i couldn't read the words. so i did the next best thing: i made up the rest of the story based on the pictures in the book. i didn't even bother trying to make the words rhyme or flow. i just wanted to get through the book to make it look like i actually read it before. looking at the faces staring back at me, it seemed like i was doing an OK job and entertaining them at the same time. but i couldn't make eye contact with my teacher. i felt her eyes burning a hole right through me. an i knew if i looked at her i would burst into tears.

looking back now, i can see how ridiculous i looked. i should have just fessed up and admitted i didn't prepare, but somehow i thought that just rambling through the pages would make me look like i did my homework. i might have been fooling my classmates, but i sure as hell didn't fool mrs. boyd. she didn't say anything to me directly, but the next time we had to pick and book and read it to everyone, she called on me first.

i'm still a procrastinator to this day. the only difference is that, for some reason, i'm able to WOW people, when the fact of the matter is, i have NO IDEA what the hell i'm talking about. i guess i'm just able to hide it better, or that my personality allows people to not catch on to the bullshit. not that i'm in the business of bullshitting people, because i'm not. but still...i don't know how i got from there to here, but it's saved my ass on more than one occasion. and i wouldn't change that for anything.

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