Not that I am bourgeois enough to care about things like grades or approval or getting into grad school someday, but I got almost all A’s this semester, which is not so hot if you are Michele, who I think has never gotten less than an A in her life, but pretty great for me. Typically towards the end of each semester I start saying “Well, I’m only in school for my own personal enrichment, and right now it would enrich me more to play baseball/go to Great America/rewatch all seven seasons of Buffy than to really buckle down on this term paper.” I used that reasoning this semester too but I guess I snowed all my profs but one anyway. (I never deserve an A. Never. There is always something more I should have done. Always.) Renaker, the B professor, would have been hard to snow given my method of showing up for about half the classes and spending half of those staring out the window or exchanging significant “can you believe this” glances with classmates.
This is in the way of being a confession. Renaker is a fact-packed trivia enthusiast, and all his trivia was interesting to me. Why then did I scorn his class so much? It’s not like I get to spend the rest of my life listening to entertaining old men tell me stories. (By which reasoning I probably should have scorned my cowboy boss a little less as well.) In all other classes I was always appalled at kids who complained of boredom–don’t you know what else is out there for you? This is as good as it gets, you little punks. But in Renaker I got in the habit of ignorance and never escaped it.
All this soul-searching over a B. Imagine what would happen if I ever failed a class. (Actually, I know what would happen. After I failed Syntax at UCSC I dropped out the following quarter in dismay and spent the next four years wandering aimlessly across the state in a manner which turned out to look really disastrous on my resume.)
It’s possible, though, that Renaker in his aged wisdom has moved into a more Zen-ish grading policy. On the midterm, for example, people who had exactly the same answers (for reasons I’m rather ashamed to post here) were graded wildly differently. Is it possible that he picked an obscure aspect of the course–how many Wednesdays someone appeared, say, or how many questions a student asked beginning with L–and graded based on that? Or is he an academic Anubis, weighing the true nature of our commitment to the course and disregarding its frivolous outward appearances? Or did he just lose half the exams and make it all up? All I know for sure is that I didn’t earn that B by any standards I can imagine.