Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Night Stories: 1st Day of College

I have promised to let you into the world of awkward that was my early college life (a stage some would say I still haven't left). Tonight, the door opens.

My first days of college were wracked with awkwardness. Socially, geographically, socially, mentally, socially, and academically. The granddaddy of all awkward stories (how I made my first friends in Madison) is being saved for later, but it was only fitting that my first day of college classes was marked by unfortunate events.

Going into college I was worried. I had no idea what my classes would look like. I thought I would get lost on the giant campus. I was convinced I wouldn't make any friends. I wasn't sure how the cafeteria worked. Needless to say, the first day of class was another cause for anxiety.

So, I went to Noland Hall for my first ever college class, a 20 person discussion section for History of Science 201. If you are strategic, you can actually graduate from college without ever taking any math courses or any real science classes. I did so quite commendably. Thank you online geology classes!

I was nervous about class. I didn't know what a discussion section was. The class was taught by a TA, I did not know what TA stood for. Other people in the class were juniors and seniors. They were tested, they were tried, they were competent.

I could pass for a 12 year old. (see visual, actual pic from 2004)

I arrived in class. Pen in hand. Ready to take notes. I love taking notes. But being nervous, I was chewing my pen.

Never lend me a pen. I am a serial pen chewer. I don't mean to, but I will chew your pen. It's part of my life and it's not going anywhere. I even buy specific brands of pens based on chewability.

And as any pen-chewer knows, there are risks to the game. If you "over-crew" or have an non-durable pen (this is why selective shopping is important), the pen may break with potentially disastrous results.

About 15 minutes into this, the very first class of my college career, I'm chewing my pen and feel a disconcerting click, more of a snap than a click. I taste ink. I'm tasting ink in my mouth.

Oh no.

At this point, I'm freaking out but trying to maintain a relaxed demeanor. I try to casually glance at my hand and see if there's any black ink on it. None is visible. But, this is hardly comforting.

I am 90% certain my pen has broken and if there's not ink on my hand then it must be on my face. I quickly become absolutely convinced that there is ink on my face.

So I casually shift my seating position to a "thinking chin-shelf." Elbow on the desk. Chin resting on palm. Fingers pointed upward to cover as much of my face as possible. Talking is now out of the question as there very well could be ink on my teeth.

Further, moving from this position is now out of the question. For if I move, 1. I will expose my possibly ink stained 12 year old facial features. 2. By this point, placing my fingers on my face may have smeared the ink around and made it all the more visible.

So, there's no talking.

No moving of the arms or face.

And perhaps worst of all, my pen is broken, so no more notetaking (tragic for someone who loved school as much as I did).

After the remaining 35 minutes had passed (all of them with my left arm pinned to my face). I collected my things, ditched my pen in the trash can, and made my way into the hallway, where I carefully walked along the walls with my face turned away from any onlookers and found a bathroom and a mirror.

Only to discover, no signs of ink anywhere.

Who says I'm not as cool as those upperclassmen?


Kristen S. said...

When I read this, I was reminded of when we were getting ready to leave for college. I don't remember whose house we were at (probably Dave's), but Rachel & Steph pulled me aside and said "Make sure Marc makes friends in college." Apparently, they were as nervous as you were! :)