Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No thank you, Alex...

...I didn't want to be on your show anyway.

Immediate reaction after taking the Jeopardy Online Challenge -- I think I performed as I typically do in an test/academic environment; above average, even great at times, but never among the stellar upper ranks. The site doesn't give you your score but I would guess that I was somewhere around 35 out of 50. Above average, even pretty good, but definitely not going to get me on Jeopardy.

In retrospect, this little endeavor has been a nice metaphor for the entirety of my scholastic career which was marked by three things; great potential, constant underachievement, and a strong slacker ethos; all of which were present at an early age. In first grade I moved back to the States after living overseas for three years. At my new school I had to take a reading and comprehension test to determine what level "reading group" I would be working in for that year. I had no interest in such a test. There were three groups (low, middle, and high in terms of aptitude) and I predictably scored right on top of the bell curve. My grandmother, an education professional of 40+ years, was incredulous as she believed that while precocious and obnoxious, I was also pretty advanced. As always, Grandma was right and after two weeks I got bumped up. I moved two more times during elementary school and this same situation happened twice again. I am a waste of SCANTRON.

For whatever reason, I didn't really become the slacker that I am today until around 4th grade. In Fairfax County we all had to take IQ tests back then and I scored two points under the threshold that would qualify me to go to the special smart kids school. The school asked my parents and my parents asked me if I wanted to take the test again to see if I could place into the magnet program:

"What do they do there?"
"The classes are different and the kids do a lot of special assignments."
"Sounds like more work."
"Don't look at it that way."
"No, I think I'll stay at Herndon. It's easy."

My parents were less than thrilled but to their credit, they never pushed me into anything I didn't want to do (except every fucking aspect of Catholicism). A similar scene played out again just before high school where I got guilted into taking the test to attend the county's magnet high school. Now my eye were wide fucking open this time and I knew that a) it was a looong bus ride, b) it was full of social retards and while I was not the coolest kid, I wasn't suffering any abuse at the hands of my peers, and c) the classes were way hard with all kinds of extracurricular work. So I took the test but let's just say that I did not try very hard and lo and behold, I went to my regular high school with all of my friends. To this day however my mother insists that I went in and intentionally threw the exam. Explanations to the contrary still fall on deaf ears.

Themes of this nature continued to play out throughout college and grad school where I would do fair to good but consistently fall short of some "greater potential" that my family alleged I was squandering. In my defense, I worked my ass off in some of my harder courses because I refused to be beat down by topics such as Complex Math & Vector Analysis or Solid State Physics II or Electromagnetic Field Theory. But in my parents' defense there were several others that I punted by actually calculating (seriously) the minimum amount of effort required to get a B or in some cases, simply pass. Yeah, I could have worked a little harder but I also could have had more fun too.

But here's what is different about last night. There is no ambiguity. There is no slacker indifference this time around. I really, really, really, wanted to be on Jeopardy. C'est le vie, we can't all be Ken Jennings -- otherwise we would all wear strange undergarments and not drink. No thank you, Alex...


At 1/24/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger Carrie M said...

and as an aside, jeopardy totally kicked my ass last night except in 'albums' and 'lip gloss'. right. but 35 out of 50? definitely above average. good effort!

oh, and i was offered a spot in the inter-bacchalaureate program at another high school in montgomery county, but then i heard one of the participants say, 'the first time i stayed up all night doing homework was hard, but then i got used to it'. and we are done here.

At 1/24/2007 7:51 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Montgomery Blair?

I will say that 35/50 is just a gut feeling estimate. I can't tell you how many tests I walked out of in college thinking I kicked ass only to get a C.

At 1/25/2007 9:45 AM, Blogger Ryane said...

Well, this blows. I have been trying to post comments and blogger keeps eating them.

Jason--I did the same thing...I hacked my Magnet school entrance exam and to this day, my mother still reminds me of that fact.

Sigh. But I wasn't about to ride the school bus for 2 hours each day, thankyouverymuch. ;-) Or admit my complete and total nerdness...

At 1/26/2007 12:22 AM, Blogger 123Valerie said...

So, big hoo ha, kid. You're still smart, and you can take the test again. I think you should.

You need to show those mo-fos what you're REALLY made of. Ya know, excellent musical tastes, good micro brews and an oddly endearing affinitity for G.I. Joes.

At 1/26/2007 10:22 AM, Blogger Carrie M said...

richard montgomery - which beat out wootton and churchill for best high schools in the country only b/c of the IB program. who woulda thunk?


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