I may not be a rocket scientist, but I’ve always considered myself to be of above average intelligence. I always got good grades in school. I have a college degree. Plus, I almost always predict who will be “Worst Dressed” on Fashion Police. However, there is something about my blonde, suburban, state-college-educated self that feels like a complete moron in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a result, I avoid going there the same way that I avoid words I can’t spell in handwritten notes where spell check is not available. I just do whatever’s necessary to make myself look smarter.
So when I wanted to take a writing class, you can imagine my fear when the only class that fit into my schedule was at an adult learning center in, you guessed it, Cambridge.
I signed up for the class anyway, not even thinking about the fact that it was an election year. If you’ve never been to Cambridge during an election year, it’s essentially like hanging out in the Bronx while the Yankees are in the World Series. In both cases, you realize that the residents are good people, but you wish they could just talk about something else for a change.
When I arrived for the first class, I looked around at the other students. I had a handbag instead of a backpack, my shoes were not vegan, and I didn’t have a reusable water bottle. I clearly did not fit in.
Our first assignment was to write an essay about an embarrassing experience, to read for the class. I was pretty proud of my work. I wrote an essay about trying to find a date to my senior prom. As I read my story, the class smiled at me like I was a toddler who just learned how to use the toilet. One student looked at me patronizingly and said, “That was so cute.”
The rest of the class read their essays. I was amazed at how many of them were able to throw in jabs at Republican politicians in essays about their own personal lives. I think if more people were aware that George W. Bush was personally responsible for my classmates falling off their bikes as kids, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten elected. I mean, who knew?
When the final student started to read his essay, it caught my attention. That was mainly because I didn’t understand a word that came out of his mouth.
“…..the fundamentalist, dichotomy of the secessionist….,” he went on and on, and I don’t think I even heard an “and” in the entire essay. I’ve already used three of them in this essay alone (yes, I counted).
The most shocking part was that everyone else in the class was really enjoying it. They were laughing, and saying things like “I’ve been there.”
Been where? I had no idea what was going on.
After class, Mr. Big Words came up to me with a hopeful expression on his face.
“What did you think of my essay”, he said.
I didn’t know what to say, since I didn’t really know what he said in his essay. So I said the first thing that came to my mind, “That was so cute.”