Friday, January 30, 2009

Isn't it Ironic?

"And isn't it ironic... don't you think?

It's like rain on your wedding day

It's a free ride when you've already paid

It's the good advice that you just didn't take...."

~ Alanis Morissette

When I started my first semester at Arizona State University some years ago this month I had to go through all the headache of getting my records from Purdue, dotting the i's and crossing the t's so I could start my new life as a Sundevil and leave the Boilermaker in me behind. I had spent enough time fannying about in engineering when I knew I really wanted to be a writer. It was time to get serious and stop wasting time. ASU, here I come.

I hit a snag when the head of the English department at ASU would not take my Freshman English credit from Purdue.

"We require our students to have an entire year of Freshman English," he said curtly, looking at me over his thick spectacles and tossing my file onto the desk between us.

"Oh, well I took advanced English, I was gifted and talented you see and so it was Advanced English, even though it was one semester, so that should cover it," I said triumphantly.

"That's lovely but we here at ASU require all of our students, gifted and other, to take two semesters of Freshman English," he said.

"I'm sorry, you are telling me you won't accept my English credit because it was advanced but if I had two semesters of, say, remedial English, I would be fine?" I was fuming. The lines, the red tape, the costs of text books and this idiot were really raking on my nerves.

"Ok then, what is irony?" he asked me as he sat back in his chair folding his arms over his pot belly.

Where was Alanis Morissette when I needed her? I fumed, stumbled around for a minute, I knew I knew the answer but I was caught off guard.

"Sarcasm," I spat back, folding my arms over my chest and starting to realize that maybe it wasn't such a great idea to be arguing (disrespectfully) with the head of the English department at a major university, one that I'd hoped to get a degree from.

"No. It's not sarcasm. You may leave now," he returned to the papers on his desk signalling that I was clearly dismissed.

I marched out of his office, out of the English building and all the way back to my apartment where I proceeded to get on the computer and look up the word irony. Damn.

So I was transferring as a Junior (and a late junior at that because I had been an intern at Purdue every other semester) and would have to take a Freshman English class. I would look like a grandmother in there! I was so mad.

On a whim, and because I did feel pretty stupid, I emailed the head of the English department. I apologized for my outburst and disrespect, citing my frustration with how difficult the transfer process was and how I would feel uncomfortable in a class of people where I would appear as a senior citizen. I also included the proper definition of irony.

He wrote me back and said it showed great character on my part for taking the time to write an apology and admitting to my mistake. He said I could take a 200-level English class instead of English 101 with all Freshmen. It was a small victory, I guess.

On the first day of English 215, I was still annoyed that I had to take another English class. Some of us showed up at the classroom when we were really supposed to go to the computer lab to meet. Finding the lecture hall empty, we decided to walk to the lab to see if the rest of the class was there.

I fell in line next to a guy dressed in a grungy flannel shirt, long wavy hair, hat on backwards and jeans that looked like they could walk themselves. He lit up a cigarette on the walk over and exhaled a cloud of smoke.

"Want one?" he asked, smiling at me.

"No thank you," I replied but was happy not to be walking alone.

"I'm John," he said taking another drag and blowing it out. "John Patriarche."

"It's nice to meet you John."

And that, my dear friends, is irony.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome story the grandkids can hear someday.