My parents were disappointed as they glanced over my last high school report card. My physics teacher, Mr. Kurtz, had given me a C-, and it was clear they would not be finding my name on the Masconomet Regional High School honor roll ever again. I was trying to suppress the laughter brewing in my stomach as my mother began her usual, “You could have done better speech.” I wasn’t laughing at the C-, I wasn’t even laughing at the constipated facial expression plastered on my fathers face, I was laughing about the time my physics lab group was reprimanded for neglecting our lab work, and reading a Cosmopolitan Magazine.
“Mark you should listen to these tips, you could learn a thing or two,” I said.
Dustin hit Mark with a yard stick, and Emily rolled her eyes. We saw Mr. Kurtz catch a glimpse of our inappropriate behavior out of the corner of his eye and he began pacing in our direction. Smirking we all looked down and he began to yell.
“I look over and one of you is playing with a yard stick, one of you is taking a nap, E. Bombs is doing a crossword puzzle, and you’re reading about the latest fashion trends,” Mr. Kurtz had said.
I wanted to inform him I was actually reading about the latest sex position, but I knew that would end poorly. Mr. Kurtz walked away, flustered by our lack of response to his lecture, and as he turned his back we all erupted in laughter. Had he just called Emily E.bombs? We never finished the Bull’s-eye Lab report; it’s likely we failed it, which helped account for the C- I had received on my report card.
“You could have done so much better,” my mother repeated. I knew this time she was referring to my entire high school career. Truthfully, I could have. I was much smarted than my report cards reflected, but knowing that was enough for me. I was constantly telling my mother I refused to look back at high school and only remember making honor roll. Eventually my C- in physics would be irrelevant, and what I would be left with is far more valuable. I would remember the look on Emily’s face when Mr. Kurtz referred to her as E. Bombs, I would remember the gut wrenching laughter that followed, and I’ll be left with laugh lines and the stories behind how I got them. I believe that having fun is far more rewarding than measured success. A grade is only a letter, a salary is only a number, but laughter cannot be measured.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.