Mathochism: Spring ghosts

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

Under the compass of Damocles About a week after I dropped the Calc Dementor’s class, I was at Bed Bath & Beyond. I was perusing the cleaning supply section when I noticed someone hovering. It was a young man, and I quickly placed him as a former classmate in CD’s class.

I sort of nodded at him, and we acknowledged our connection verbally. I continued perusing, and reached for a can of Barkeeper’s Friend (UFYH represent!!), but I guess he wasn’t done talking to me.

“Did you drop the class?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, but did not elaborate. I kept scanning the shelves, hoping to find some toilet cleanser.
“Well, calculus can be hard for some people,” he said.
“That wasn’t it,” I replied. “The professor’s methods didn’t work for me. His lectures were very clear, but they didn’t match the tests.”
“But all the problems on the test were from the homework!” he said.
“All the problems from the second test were from the homework,” I replied. “That was definitely not the case for the first test, and he wouldn’t let us drop that. And that doesn’t work for me.”

I could tell he wanted to argue with me, so I cut him off with a “good luck to you,” and walked toward the water filter display. Luckily, he didn’t follow.

Now, I must admit that I tend to find Bed Bath & Beyond disconcerting. Maybe it’s the endless shelves of towels and sheets, the narrow aisles crammed with salt shakers, the lack of windows that even the brightest lights can’t overcome. This particular BB&B has always struck me as extra surreal. Once I came across a woman who had her pekingese tucked into a Baby Bjorn on her chest. It had its back against her belly, and each leg through an opening. I have no idea where the tail was.

If that wasn’t bizarre enough, the woman was very petite, and the man with her (her husband?) was almost seven feet tall. I kept running into them in the otherwise gigantic store, and wound up behind them at the register. Now, if that wasn’t slightly David Lynchesque, on that same trip I found myself by the Wamsutta display. A woman was pacing by the taupe queen-sized fitted sheets, talking on her cell phone.

“You’re right, this can’t go on anymore. I mean, you talked to her. He can’t do this to her. We’re going to have to kill him.”

Murder plots and dogs in Baby Bjorns. Now that’s just a weird combination.

But I digress. Back to my classmate! Like I said, I cut him off, because he was starting to piss me off. In our brief conversation, he managed to imply that I not only wasn’t smart enough for calculus, but that I hadn’t done my homework. This was not, in my opinion, helpful.

Sooo… Guess who I just realized is in my new calculus class? For some reason, I hadn’t noticed him during the first two days (but I was kind of nervous), but I spotted him today as everyone waited in the hall for the earlier class to get out.

Gosh, I wonder what happened? You know, calculus is too hard for some people. And if he’d bothered to do his homework, he would have done fine on those exams!

Did he drop, like I did? Or did he stick it out to the end, and fail?

I must admit I’m curious. I mentioned this to my best friend while we were on the phone.

“You must accost him!” she said. “After he treated you like that at the Bed Bath & Beyond? You have to!”
“He did look a bit ashamed in the hallway,” I said. “Like he didn’t want to explain why he was there.”

I’m still conflicted, though. On one hand, if he too realized that professor was a dementor, I am vindicated. On the other, I just want to slough off that whole crap experience and start again.

This may be a conversation best had next to the Roomba display at BB&B. And I’m due for a trip — I have a coupon.

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.

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